On the Move

Some exciting news from headquarters this Christmas. There is lots of movement, talk about moving, and moving parts to manage. Stuff is being donated or sold -yes, Da Sky and I are very closely guarding our stuff –  and boxes are being filled.  Da Sky and I even had to practise sitting in a big box for a gazillion days couple of hours. No, no, we are not left behind since we are considered priceless. Pew, that’s a relief.

The word is that we will move overseas but we won’t travel by boat. Why not travel by boat over the sea? Yeah, that beats me too. Traveling by boat would have been my first choice since I got my captain’s license way back and Da Sky is a fine first mate. Instead, we will travel by car and then in an air-monster. The car will be easy peasy. We will even have a VIP chauffeur flown in for us from Europe Still, I’m not too sure about the air-monster. You-all know that Da Sky can fly and  I’m famous for breaking the sound barrier but we are no rocket stars. I guess that’s about to change. Where we’re going? That seems to be all hush-hush and top-secret. All I know is that we haven’t been there yet, they have lots of sheep to chase look at, and it’s far, far away.

While the moving parts are moving, Sky and I are trying to fit in a couple of things one more time. I finished my last secret mission and I got my AKC Novice JWW (Jumpers with Weaves) title (with three first places). My little brother got his first Q and a second-place at his first AKC agility event ever.  Pretty good heh?! He had barely turned 15 months, the minimum age to enter. We also said our goodbyes to Apalachicola. We missed Miss Martha but were able to sail one more time on the big float a.k.a. The Follower. I was told that the big float won’t be able to follow us overseas. Yep, that’s another mystery to me. I would think that we can slow down soon but knowing headquarters that might be wishful thinking. If I don’t see you before the end of the year:

Happy Howli-Days and Smooth Sailing from all of us!

P.S. Don’t eat all Santa’s cookies and if you do make sure you shred the evidence.

Benji 

 

 

 

Da Sky Flies

I never knew this but da Sky can fly. You learn somethin’ new efurry day. 

I didn’t feel like flying, it’s too hot (above 84° F when we tried this amateur stint, pfff) and the yummies were not too yummy (I think da Sky ate them all), so I said thanks but no thanks. Sometimes you gotta pick and choose. In two days time, I will go to professional agility training. There are bound to be better yummies (shhh, don’t tell da Sky). Hope you get to do something fun this weekend with lots of yummies on the horizon and bright skies.

Da Sky is da limit,

Benji

Training Da Sky

I always knew that I couldn’t influence da weather but do you know that you can train da Sky? It turns out to be pretty easy too. Who would have known?! Sky has had multiple lessons in an unofficial capacity as soon as our vet gave him a clean bill of health. On one of Sky’s trips, he went to agility training with me. He didn’t have to jump through hoops but he sure did get a lot of attention. Nobody took photos of me. I know, how come????! To even things out, I’m throwing in a photo of my first encounter with agility way back in 2016.

Sky even went shopping and came home with a new leash. Unfortunately, no treats whatsoever. I quadruple checked. Sky also had his first puppy pawty with my CCI buddies to welcome Kirby a new nine-week-and-counting CCI pup. I couldn’t go as I had to pawsonally dogtor Q , you know the second in command at headquarters, back to health. Sometimes you have to set your priorities. Stay out of trouble this weekend, I will try to do the same.

Benji

Arbor-Gility

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Yesterday we turned another Mission Impossible into a Mission Possible. We organized our first ever Arbor-Gility event. A little over a month ago, I was asked to show my Dogtoring, R.E.A.D.ing, and agility skills by the organizer of Arbor Day in my neck of the woods. I’m pretty experienced with Arbor Day as I started handing out trees for the first time when I was only 4 months old but organizing and competing in Arbor-gility was a first for me and maybe a first in the whole wide kingdom.

 

Instead of me running around like crazy and doing it all by myself, I thought it would be way more fun to invite my Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and Animal Therapy furriends. As it turned out, 26 agility dogs, 5 Dogtors, and 2 service dogs in training showed up. Isn’t that amazing?! With the Arbor-gility event, we raised lots of 🍪🍪🍪 for a local non-profit animal rescue group.

 

Sky had to stay home to practice Zuluism. He will be able to join us on one of our Mission Possibles as soon as he has received all his booster vaccines.

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I had fun and can’t wait till the next event,

Benji

 

A New Seed

Well, apparently new seeds were growing last year.  I would like to introduce my new little brother Luke Skywalker de Louisiana a.k.a. SKY. I gave him the Codename 0012.img_9999b

Ain’t he something else?! His shelter name was Luke, we added Skywalker. SKY was moved from an overcrowded Louisiana shelter that was not suited for puppies to North Florida. Hence his last name. He is roughly 5 months old and our vet said that he was probably a mix between a Border Collie and Springer Spaniel.  SKY has aspirations to become a Jedi Master. When my former agility trainer saw his photo she said, “The Force is strong in this one”. So maybe he’s on his way.

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To be honest, I am hoping he can join me on my super-secret missions sometime in the future. With a name like SKY, he should be able to fly, don’t you think? That should come in handy on our Mission Impossibles.

SKY started his tactical training last Friday at headquarters. He has to wait at least a couple of months before he can start any offsite agility training but for now, he can start with the basics at headquarters. It’s a lot of chewing on a bone and sometimes there is a bone of contention but I’ve shown that it can be done. Anyhowls, in the meantime, SKY can prepare for his S.T.A.R. exam. More on all this prep work at a later time. For now, this puppy needs some rest.

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Signing off,

Dg. B, a.k.a. 0011
Commander in Chief
Headquarters

Recert and MP-21

And yes, we are back in business in the animal therapy world as well. It took a while as M had surgery and was not supposed to do much of anything for way too long. It meant that I was super busy lending a helping paw. I followed her around like a puppy and lay down next to her to make sure she got enough rest. Man, let me tell you, you can get tired from lying down all day.

I also helped with chores. In the morning I had to make my own bed (yes, I do have a nice soft comfy blanket on my bed). I already put my toys away every day but now I had to pick up stuff M dropped on the floor as well. Yes, she can be quite messy. The good news is that I made a lot of treats for my treat account with all my extra helping. Maybe I should make this into a side business to keep the treats flowing.

IMG_8999b dIn addition, I got recertified for animal therapy a couple of weeks ago; this has to be done every two years to make sure we can still dot our i’s and cross our t’s. As an official R.E.A.D. partner, this was, of course, no problemo. Since all was deemed in order, we were able to visit the library together this morning for the first time in what felt like ages. Children R.E.A.D. to me while they petted me. It’s a nice way to start the day.  Hope y’all had a good start of the weekend too,

Benji

Dog Days

We are still enduring the dog days of summer in our neck of the woods. On a hot day like today, I like to take a nice long nap in my PetFusion lounge after our morning walk.

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Take it easy this week,

I will do the same,

well unless we go to agility training and visit my friends, 

Benji

Routine

I’m back on track and seem to have found my old routine. Yesterday I went to the city with two of my CCI buddies. We practiced stairs without going a hundred miles per hour. Yeah, I know how does one ever get to the bottom of stuff. We sat pretty and said “cheese” without cheese; who came up with that idea?! We even went up in the Big Box and I have to say it went surprisingly well.  The alternate universe on the other side is kind of fun now.

Smile, it’s weekend!

Benji

Cool Hot Summer Fun: 2

Ms. Zulu and I have a doggie door and can go outside to our doggie yard pretty much whenever we want. But, like any canine, we were born ready for our daily exercise walks. As the summer gets into full swing we try to get our morning walk in as early as possible and we try to walk in shaded areas. Here in Florida, we have to watch out for biting bugs and use pet safe products to repel them.

We prefer to walk on cool and soft surfaces such as grass. If we have to walk on hot pavement or sand we check the temperature to make sure that it’s not too hot for our sensitive paws. You can even get dog booties if there is no way around that conundrum. In the evening we prefer to walk as late as possible.

We always bring water with some plain ice cubes wherever we go. And how could I forget?! The treats, we bring those too! OK, ok, it’s mostly dinner-kibble but there are treat-crumbs in there for sure. Above we are showing the water Rover water dispenser. What we like: we don’t waste any water as our assistant can easily pour the unused water back in the bottle. What we don’t like: it’s plastic. So we are looking for a sturdy durable stainless steel version. The H2O4K9-Water-Bottle is close to what we are looking for but doesn’t have the convenient top of the Rover. I heard that there is a curious Rover on Mars maybe we should ask him.

We don’t have a lot of sweat glands and panting is our major cooling method. The sweat glands that we do have are mostly located around the paw pads. That’s why it helps to stand in a pool or on a wet towel when we are too hot. I think I will err on the side of caution; I’m not gonna get wet, period. And that is one h_ll of a big period, period. As a refresher, here are the signs of  heat exhaustion and impending heat stroke in dogs according to Pet MD: “sluggishness, very heavy panting, bright red gums, hypersalivation (which can progress to the opposite: dry tacky gums), vomiting or diarrhea, and collapse. In the later stages, death can occur rapidly if not treated in an ER.”

Even though they haven’t officially arrived yet, we do hope that the Dog Days are over before we know it!

Not sure if running fast will help to stay cool. Well, maybe at Mach 2+ and some cooling liquid for the pawerful machine. And no, I’m not talking about some water with plain ice cubes here.

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Stay cool my friends and please tell your friends not to leave live animals in a car, hot unshaded area, hot unventilated room,  or hot anything…, 

Benji

The Forbidden = Unforbidden

I have some good news to report on this exciting Monday. After gazillion years months of endless waiting, the forbidden fruit became unforbidden.  One apple just happened to fall down with its rosy cheeks up. I didn’t see it fall and no I didn’t touch it. I know, I know. In hindsight, I should have, could have waited at the bottom of the tree and gobbled it up right there as we all know that an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We supposedly live in a democratic household so after we had looked at the apple on the kitchen countertop for ages days my kitchen staff split the apple into four equal parts. All seeds and the core were removed as those are very bad for us canines.

There is a second apple that keeps staring at me from the kitchen countertop. That one didn’t fall down but had to be harvested to save a fragile looking tree limb from breaking.  The limb had three apples on it and just couldn’t support those. I would have taken all three apples, but hey my opinion doesn’t seem to count most of the time sometimes. Calling headquarters a semi-democratic institution would probably be more accurate.  They are trying their best but some seem to be more equal than others. One can always hope though that one day we’ll all be the same.

If you’re wondering what else we canines can eat besides apples, here is a list of some of the human goodies that canines can eat.

Bon chew,

Benji

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the wind are my best buddy Capone and my new CCI friend Adonis. We took care of Adonis for only two days but when he left it felt like he was already part of the fur-amily.

Lots happened in the last three days. The evening before Capone had to drive south for his graduation, we had one last playdate. You can find the video of Capone’s graduation here. Adonis stayed with us for two days since both his puppy raisers went with Capone to the graduation ceremony.

Someone at my house, you can guess who, loves taking pictures especially puppy pictures. So there are now a gazillion plus pictures in addition to the ones we already have that have to be sorted. Here is a photo showing Adonis on my red bed. OK, ok, it is Ms. Zulu’s bed too.

Adonis is only 10 weeks old. Just as a comparison there is one photo of me when I was 3 weeks younger than Adonis is now. At that age, I didn’t have a magic cape like Adonis. Remember, I had just escaped been adopted from the shelter. Nonetheless, I had my football and an angel on my chest. Since we didn’t have a photo of me when I was 10 weeks old on the red bed (how come???!!!) we threw in the one that shows me when I went sailing for the second time in my life.

Enjoy your Sunny Day and wishing you smooth sailing this week,

Benji

We are currently unavailable

We are currently unavailable… because we are puppy sitting a CCI puppy! It’s quite a job. There is lots of going for a walk, business # ones and twos, playing, making sure nobody gets into trouble, and what not. Never knew puppy sitting was this busy.  It’s loads of fun but am wondering when I can catch up on my sleep…

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Hi, nice to meet you!

More later, gotta run,

Benji

Dogtors with Borders

As promised, here is the new addition to my uniform. Ms. Zulu assisted me while I posed for the first time with the new scarf. So this time it was Dogtors with Borders. Yes, Ms. Zulu is at least 50% Border Collie as far as we can tell. If you would like to know more about my Dogtors without Borders work then go to my resume page. We updated it recently.
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As you can see Ms. Zulu and I took our job very seriously and we were very focused throughout the photo session. This may or may not have anything to do with the treats in front of us. You be the judge.

OK, gotta run, I have a farewell party to attend to say goodbye to my best buddy Capone and hello to a new CCI friend in training. Yeah, Capone is leaving us in 1.5 weeks to start professional service dog training in South Florida. We will miss him for sure. I (well maybe one of my dedicated assistants) will try to capture some nice photos so you can see Capone one more time and to introduce the new CCI puppy. I’m sure you will get to see more of the newbie because when Capone is traveling to South Florida we get to babysit the new 9-week old pup for four days. That oughta be fun.

And remember, be dedicated and thou shall be rewarded,

Benji

Good Morning Sunshine

Wake-up, Wake-up! It’s another beautiful morning and Earth Day! We had a nice walk in the woods. As you can see the Pinecone Forest in our neck of the woods is recovering nicely from a dangerous affair. Hope you get to enjoy the outdoors today too.

Rest

Reflect and

Relish the sounds of nature

The ZAB team

Agility = Fun++

Hope your Sunnyday was as sunny as mine. Mine was packed with fun as I went to agility training! The event with the inedibles did not repeat itself. I did look but the thing was nowhere to be found.  That may have been a good thing.

The trainer said that I’m very fast on my feet and a quick study. This time, all the obstacles we had practiced in previous sessions were spread out over the training field. M said the course was hard work but I can’t imagine why as she never jumped/ ran/ crawled through/ over tunnels, hurdles, boardwalks, or A-frames. Us canines did the hard work. The Ms and Ds only had to point fingers to direct us while they walked on the inside of the course. To be fair the Ms and Ds did have to give us treats. That is an important if not the most important part of the game.

What the agility course looks like? Well, I had to start on the boardwalk, then jump through the tire, turn sharply and jump over a hurdle, go to the platform and stand/ sit on it,  jump over another hurdle,  crawl through a tunnel, and then run over the A-frame. That was so much fun, I could do it over and over again.  Not sure if you noticed but the tunnel is now a piece of cake.  Yes, it did help that there were crumbs of some sort of cake all over it.

Two weeks from now will be my last basic training session and the trainer asked if we want to continue with Agility Training 1 in May. Of course, who would not want that?!

Have a great week and don’t forget: jumping through hoops can be fun,

Benji

 

 

A Park Day

It’s a sunny Sunday so M and I went out to the park today. But first, we had to drop off donations for a local wildlife rescue organization. Two volunteers, a lady and her daughter, helped us unload the car. Once the car was empty, we started talking about rescuing wildlife and animal therapy with shelter dogs. Not sure how the two go together but one thing led to another. The lady told us how she had a house full of ducks, rabbits, dogs, and other animals that needed rescuing. It sounded like a wonderful place to live.

Once in the park, we used the agility equipment. It’s getting easier to jump on the equipment now that I’m taller and more experienced. The high seas don’t seem so high anymore. I also met a ninja woman. She was walking on a slackline. She even let me sniff out her new equipment: a ninja line with knotted tug ropes. It looked like a great training device for me too.

  Happy Sunnyday! Exercise but leave time for naps,

B

 

Mission Impossible: 1

We are preparing for my first secret mission in the field: Code Name MI-1. The mission is planned for next week. That means that we had to 1) go out in the field, 2) scope the area, 3) do a test run, and 4) debrief.

I am happy to report that we were able to successfully scope the area (no we can’t show you the real site as I would have to k.ll-u). The test run had to be done off-site for various obvious reasons. Since we had to get some paint we thought we would go to the Home Depot, a home improvement store, and kill two birds with one stone. Yes, that is a figure of speech;  we don’t really kill birds here either. After all, we are now dogtors! We talked with a lot of people at the test run site. Everybody seems to be interested in what I am doing these days.

Understandably, nerves are running a bit high at this point but the results of the test run during the debrief showed us that we are in tip-top shape. Just keep your paws, fingers, or other digits crossed for a successful mission next week and we should be good to go. Double-O-Eleven (a.k.a. Benji).

Communication is a tricky business

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Reardon and I philosophizing

Since I came to live with my forever family, mom has shown a renewed interest in interspecies’ communication. It all kick-started with the book “Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? ”  We, a.k.a. the ZAB team, truly thank our dear friend in Groningen, the Netherlands for this book! The book is a New York Times Bestseller and written by Professor Frans de Waal. He is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist who works at Emory University in Atlanta. Frans’ research shows that animals are a lot smarter than what most people give them credit for. WOOOFFF, high paws for Frans!

We also saw an interesting National Geographic documentary on dog training research. OK I admit, I lost interest as soon as I discovered I couldn’t play with any of the dogs in the video. I did see one of the experiments that showed how dogs empathize with human emotions. We love what they said about a Staffordshire Bull Terrier that was one of the most emphatic dogs in the experiment: “we should never judge a book or a breed by its cover”. We totally agree! Most shelter dogs in our part of the world are part Pit Bull Terrier and that is the reason why some people hesitate to get a dog from the shelter. While most of us do come with a history, it doesn’t mean that we cannot be great companions! Education (yes, one important component is educating the humans) and working with excellent dog trainers are key. But the same holds true for any dog that is adopted from a breeder. Of course, stay away from puppy mills. We don’t want to support those awful practices.

During our puppy and animal therapy training, we were introduced to two phawbulous dog trainers: Patricia McConnell and Emily Larlham. We thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Puppy Primer” written by Patricia and Brenda Scidmore and have signed up to receive Patricia’s next book “The education of Will”. I especially love what Patricia’s blog tells humans to do when us doggies do something naughty:  take one newspaper (no doggies, don’t shred this one yet), roll it up and say bad, bad, bad, boy/ girl… then hit yourself (yes people, you read that right, that’s you) in the head for not paying attention to what your dog was doing! Emily posts a lot of “Kikopup” videos on youtube that are educational. Here are two of the videos we recently saw; there are lots more:

1. What not to do to your best friend: 

2. How to be …: 

After some philosophizing with Reardon (many high paws for your input my friend), I have to conclude that communication between species is a tricky business and most humans haven’t mastered our dog language yet. So for now, humans can show us doggies what they want by following these steps:
1. Interrupt the unwanted behavior. No bullying and yelling here! Say something NICE and in an upbeat voice to distract us … such as ‘hey puppy’.
2. Redirect and ask for good behavior. For example, ask us to sit. Again be polite!
3. And this last step is very, and I repeat VERY important: give us TREATS when we sit nicely or do whatever you like us to do! Remember we are people pleasers and you can use this to your advantage. Just saying…

People don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get the above steps right immediately. After all, nobody is purrfect (I learned that word from Andy and Dougy). Although I have to say that the newspaper idea mentioned above has a lot of potential… Anyways, us doggies love your patience and TLC while we are learning your language and you don’t have a clue about ours yet. Oh oh, wait…, Ms. Zulu whispers into my ear… She notes that there is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between humans as well and that seems to cause a lot of terror and destruction. So, you don’t need us for the destruction side of it after all. Too bad, I always love a good chew. Maybe we can help you fight the terror then, hey?? Word is getting around that I’m good with puppy kisses and I’ve heard that love conquers all.

On a final note, I would like to point out with my paws high up in the air, and this is not in surrender but in celebration, that there is hope for the future. Recently, we spoke with Linda Saraco, an animal communicator who follows my blog. She is an animal communicator on a whole different level that is fascinating. While there is still a lot more digging to do on interspecies communication and humans have barely scratched the surface, it seems that we are making progress. Just thinking out loud here but maybe you should let us help with the scratching and digging more. Us canines are renowned experts in the field of archeology a.k.a. digging. Our feline friends can help with the scratching, I am sure. Anyhowls,  we hope that once people learn more about other species it advances animal rights. And remember, communication is a two-way street, so start barking and howling like you mean it!

High paws for always trying your best,

Benji.

General Disclaimer: While mom tries her best to interpret my woofings and put these in writing, some parts may get lost in the translation. 

The Magic Cape

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Reardon and his magic cape

My CCI buddy has left again with his magic cape. I wished he could have left it behind. He seems to have superpowers when he wears his cape. When he stands in front of a store he can go inside while I can’t.* I asked mom if I could have one so I could go shopping with her but she explained to me that superpowers come with super-obligations. Reardon is expected to leave his temporary home for training once he is about a year old. He then has to go through even more training. Eventually, if he completes all his training successfully, he will live with a person who needs assistance with activities of daily living and thereby improve that person’s independence.

When dogs such as Reardon are unable to complete the CCI training they are adopted by one of the families that are on an adoption waiting list. In that case, they may become a therapy dog like me.  I hope Reardon succeeds in whatever his destination is. It would be nice if we could meet again someday in the future.  I also hope that he has always enough time for playing in his busy schedule. Because you just can’t play enough.

* Click here for a comparison of service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs 

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Reardon and I goofing around after school

Benji.

The Wedding

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Proof that we did pay attention in school

While my CCI buddy and I studied hard in school, okay we did play some too, the wedding preparations for Drake and Sol have moved forward nicely. Here are the bridesmaids in their new outfits. Check out Belén Soto’s website Arcilla y fuego for an update. Belén is a very talented ceramist and we love her sculptures!

The ZAB team.

Preparativos de boda – Wedding preparations Las damas de honor – Bridesmaids Lúa y Mar Las chicas también han optado por el color rojo, creo que va a ser el color predominante en la boda, siguiendo las indicaciones de Mar, ambas han realizado sus primeras compras … Los preparativos de una boda son una enorme […]

via Damas de honor — Arcilla y fuego