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 

 

 

 

MP-23+

IMG_0346b.JPGHi guys and girls! Another update from the office. In between Sky’s lessons and my agility classes, I still try to go to the Mission Possibles. The Howlidays and Agility had interrupted my schedule a bit as well but I think I’m pretty much back on track. The last one was at the end of January. Several children R.E.A.D. some pawtastic stories to me.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin

The above is not totally true as you can live many lives in your head, I know I do, but you get the drift. Wished I could get mine all on paper. It would make communication with da humans so much easier.

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

MP-22+

I almost forgot to tell you about another successful mission I fulfilled at the library just before the holidays started. It must have been Mission Possible (MP) 22+ (we may have forgotten to post a couple of missions).

This time, four boys, three girls, and one teacher R.E.A.D. to me. Parents are always there too so there wasn’t a dull moment. I seem to have more repeat customers these days.  The teacher has read to me several times in hopes of starting the R.E.A.D. program at her school. For some reason, there is some resistance at her school. Can’t figure that one out; who would not want a real Dogtor at school?! Anyhowls, the nice teacher read to me from a nice book with lots of large pictures. I love those. This time we read a book about Christmas. I was a tad bit distracted as we had moved to another office. This is the third one. A new office means new sounds and distractions to get used to. Even though it’s a small library I can guarantee you that there is lots going on even on a Saturday. I guess everybody wanted to get books for the holidays.

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Hope you’re ready for a new year,
sit tight, we’re counting down,
Benji

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

MP-20

You must be thinking by now, what’s up with Benji. Well, lots, just not enough time to write it all down yet. Last Wednesday, was probably the most exciting day of my career so far. I went to the famous MagLab! You know the one where they developed the world’s most powerful superconducting magnet!

I went to the MagLab to talk to 16 SciGirls. They were visiting the Lab to learn about a wide range of science disciplines. I was invited together with a cockatoo and four other dogs to show the girls what therapy animals can do for people. Below you can see a summary of my talk.

DgBenjib.pngThe equations I came up with for the occasion were well received. Before I knew it, my wisdom was spreading like wildfire among the scientists and being shared with the larger public. There is even talk that there might be a Nobel Treat prize in my future. Now I can’t stop thinking about how many yummies in the tummies that would equate to. Maybe I can ask for an advance payment.

Dg. Benji 

 

MP-18 and MP-19

You probably wondered if we’re still alive. I’m happy to report that is still the case. We are just a bit behind in the blogging world. My human got busy with other stuff so blogging was put on the back burner. I know, what could be more important than doggy adventures?!

Rest assured, I haven’t sat still. On April 19, I went to a CCI outing with my assistants-in-training buddies. We encountered lots of wildlife in the big city, seriously that is no joke. Manatees were hanging from trees and dolphins could be seen splashing in front of buildings. So WEIRD! The next day I had some Dogtoring to do at the Homeless and At-Risk Veterans Stand Down event. This is an annual event to help homeless and at-risk veterans. Several people asked if I was up for adoption. WOL, of course not! On Saturday I went to the library to help children read. That was my fifth time. I even had two repeat customers.

Happy wanderings, don’t forget to smile,

Benji

MP-17 and Such

Hi, hope you’re enjoying your Saturday! We went to the library for a R.E.A.D. session. I got lots of reading, petting, and reversed Reiki in. Afterward, we had to get some fertilizer for our fruit trees. This is supposed to help grow fruit in abundance. Not sure why we bother as it always takes fur-ever for the fruit to appear. Once the fruits finally do show up I’m supposed to leave them alone; I can’t even nose the fruit for a daily progress check. On top of that, last year Bear ended up with most of the persimmons. We ended up with less than 10 of the 100+ that were on the tree before the bear was let loose. That’s less than a 10% return rate. While I did get some of the 9 tiny! apples that showed up, 0 persimmons ended up in my tummy. So not a good investment if you ask me.

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Again, why are we feeding the trees instead of me?

I heard that if you want apples, you have to shake the trees. Maybe I should follow that advice this year because I definitely want me some apples. Yum!

Benji

 

MP-16

This morning I volunteered for the third time to read with children at the library as a R.E.A.D. companion.*  I like going to the library; everybody is always so nice to me! The children pet me while they read aloud to me and I even get yummies for my tummy. I  favor books with pictures. Especially when they show animals; that’s when I pay close attention. I think I’m ready now to take a nap after all that volunteering. I didn’t know that reading can make you feel tired.

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At the library with my R.E.A.D. gear

* “R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries, and many other settings as reading companions for children.” (Intermountain Therapy Animals)

Benji

MP-15 and CCI

Yesterday was another busy bee day in the Life of Benji. In the morning I helped children read at the library. The children were ranging in age from 2.5 years to about 11 years. Some of them were a bit intimidated by my size. I tickled their hands with my whiskers to break the ice. When they felt how soft I am, they were hooked and couldn’t get enough of me.

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In the afternoon, I went sailing with CCI buddies Adonis and Flint. It was their first time out on the water so I showed them the ropes. They seem to catch on fast. Don’t be surprised when we are soon sailing all by ourselves.  That should be easy as we don’t have to ask the humans for any keys. Flint is a new recruit. You couldn’t tell that he is only four months old; he behaved so well.

Lights were turned off around 6:00 PM, that’s when we all got sleepy. After a good meal, I went to bed satisfied and content knowing that my missions went well.

Benji

MP-14

Yes, I did it; I turned another Mission Impossible into a Mission Possible! Last Saturday, I read with the kids at the library and decided that it was a lotta fun. They stroked my ears, those are definitely my sweet spots, my back, and even my belly while they read to me. I had two incognito sessions at the library before I officially opened my office. Next time I will ask my photographer/ driver/ butler/ whatever-I-need-person to take a photo of my office. It has cute monkeys on the wall, even though we are not supposed to monkey around.

Here is a photo of my new outfit for the R.E.A.D. program.  I use it together with my favorite blanket that states: “In a perfect world every dog has a home”. Ain’t that the truth.

Benji

Happy Dayz!

Oh, Happy Dayz; hope you had the same great weekend as I did! It started with a big bang black bear and ended with agility training. Sorry, no photos of the black bear. The humans were too slow. At first, they didn’t understand what I was telling them and by the time they did it was too late to take out their camera. The humans still aren’t fluent in doggie woof. I try to be patient but it is tiresome at times.  The bears must like the persimmons and palmetto fruits around headquarters. I don’t blame the bears as I often have my nose on them too. Unfortunately, the doggie police won’t let me touch them.

On Saturday we went for a loooong car drive to see boats. Don’t ask me why because we already have one sitting idle at headquarters. We could have just as well stared at that one instead of driving all day to see one. I just let ’em be. My dutch human granny tells me that you just have to skip the chapter if you don’t understand it. It seems sound advice.

In the evening I played with my fur-iend Adonis and watched the movie Megan Leavey with my CCI f(ur)iends. The movie is about a military combat dog Rex and his handler Megan. Together they completed more than 100 missions. Rex and his colleagues are amazing; they are my heroes and I hope that all military combat dogs are well-taken care off and get a relaxing retirement as they certainly deserve some serious pampering after all their risky work.

Sunday morning, Ms. Zulu and I had a photo shoot for a calendar at the coast with a professional photographer. We will let you know when it gets printed. To top of the weekend, I had agility training that same evening.   Pfff, I need some rest!

Work hard, play hard,

Benji 

MP-13

Today we turned another Mission Impossible into a Mission Possible. It was the 13th visit so what could go wrong, eh? We went back to the adult care center. This time I was the only Dogtor so I was a busy bee and I don’t even have wings. Everyone was pleased to see us again. We chatted our heads off with the folks for about half an hour when I heard rumbling noises. It was faint at first, well not to me but those with shorter ears seem to be less sensitive to sound; it definitely got louder over time. I looked at M and we both figured that it was time to go home before it would catch up with us. It was good that we did. As soon as I jumped in the car it started raining cats and dogs. Lucky for us, we did not get a visit from that fellow Harvey that caused havoc way west of us. He is a bad, bad, guy from what I’ve heard. Lots of people and animals got themselves into a pickle. Some even died because of Harvey;  so sad. Our thoughts are with everybody in that area. If you would like to help with the animal disaster relief efforts visit https://www.houstonpetset.org/hurricane-harvey-relief-fund/

As we drove away from the adult care center, the sky got brighter the closer we got to headquarters. Maybe the noisy pickles got scared by Ms. Zulu’s Border Collie stare. I don’t blame them, she can be pretty intimidating at times. Maybe barking helps too. I wouldn’t mind taking the lead on that sometime. OK, gotta run. I have a playdate with my CCI friend. After the playdate we will go shopping and meet more CCI friends in the city!

Let the sunshine in,

WOOFFF!

Benji

MP-12

I know, I know, we are way behind on updating you but I had a couple of busy weeks so thought I would chill on my sofa with live television before I got back on track. I’m happy to report that on Wednesday another Mission Impossible became possible. I went to a youth center where I met teenagers who are enrolled in a non-residential counseling program. It was a new place for me so I met lots of new people. I worked the crowd together with one of my colleagues, a Great Pyrenees. He is a great guy literally and figuratively speaking. We learned that he has been in the business for more than 4 years. That’s twice as long as I have been on this planet! The guy was very calm. I guess that’s what happens when you have done this a million times.

The kids at the youth center are a hoot. They wanted to know everything under the sun about me. Their greeting ritual is a bit different from mine as they wanted me to shake their hands over and over again. I got rewarded with treats so it was no problemo. I even put in a couple of spins for good measure. Afterwards, we stopped at a cafe to cool down. It’s hot here, 102 degrees Fahrenheit, so we ordered drinks on the rocks.

Stay cool and have a pawbulous weekend,

Benji

MP-11

IMG_2204c.jpgHi guys! Another update from the field. Yesterday I went on a new mission. This time I was asked to go to an adult day care center. Understandably, I was a bit nervous at first. I shouldn’t have worried because the people were super nice. They all sat in a circle and my buddy Dg. K and I worked the room from opposite ends. That way we made sure that everybody got the attention they needed. A sweet lady said that I reminded her of one of her doggies from long ago. She gave me two big kisses for it. Isn’t that nice?!

The visit was different from my other therapy visits. I thought I had seen and heard it all, but no sirree. In this place, there were lots of noises and commotions too. Wheelchairs and walkers that seem to have a mind of their own kept rolling towards me. Chairs scraped on the laminate floors, canes fell, and sensitive feet that I had to avoid popped up out of nowhere like mushrooms after a rainy day. At one point even a high pitched siren went off. My instinct told me to bark but I knew I shouldn’t so I gave the source “the eye” like a real Border Collie. It worked like a charm because the noise stopped. I sincerely thank my big Sis for showing me how to do this. She often practices it on me and I have to say, she knows her stuff. Her stare will stop you dead in your tracks and make you think twice about your next move.

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My Sis and I

As a reward for all my hard work,  I got to play with my buddies at the doggie center. Once home I got dinner, played some with my stuffed buddies, and then went to bed. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Have a great weekend, 

Benji

MP-10

Wow, today was our 10th Mission Impossible that became Possible. It’s amazing how all these little steps add up towards a significant milestone. With ten visits under my belt, I can apply for the AKC Therapy Dog Novice title. It seems like yesterday when I got my training wheels, passed the prescreening exam, passed the real exam, and then several months later went on my first mission.

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My first training wheels (10 weeks)

And here are the numbers: During the animal therapy training sessions I have interacted with 72 people. And on my missions, I’ve interacted with 146 people. This brings the total of interactions with NEW people since I was adopted to 602! Yes, you read that right, that is 602 new people. That means meeting more than one new person per day. The total number of interactions with new plus familiar humans is much, much higher. That’s a lot of pawshaking and sitting on my behind, I can tell you that.

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One of my first animal therapy training sessions

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Practicing in the field 

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Training with my CCI buddies

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My first real mission

We celebrated today’s milestone with doggie ice cream and topped it off with some frozen carrots for another Popeye boost. Yummy!

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Let’s celebrate; we’re ready!

Hope you had a wagnificant Father’s day and all, 

Happy Monday,

Benji

MP-9

Another Mission Possible is behind us. This time I got the early Monday morning shift in the ER. It meant that I had to get up super early.  I was also the only Dogtor on duty. At first, we seemed to be off to a rough start as our usual parking spot was taken by a big truck. The truck was not only big but also made a lot of noise. Turned out that it was a mobile shredding truck. I guess secret missions require the shredding of lots of papers. Luckily, my magic harness, Dogtor bandana, in combination with frozen carrots hand delivered to me at the exact right time, gave me Popeye strength. This helped me to make it past the truck and into the building without further ado.

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Today, the waiting room was nearly empty and there were not that many patients in the ER. It made my job a lot easier and I was pretty much single-handedly able to keep everything under control. Those things that are not patient related are not always easy to circumnavigate though. For that reason, I’m always looking out for unusual things. This time there was a garbage cart out of control. All of a sudden it came flying towards me from around the corner at the nurse’s station. Its speed was dizzying and the human it had in tow was practically centrifuged into the air. Thankfully a handful of frozen carrots gave me another Popeye boost and imminent danger was easily averted.

Once we got the junk out of the way and the patients were taken care of, I had time for the nurses. I love the nurses as they always enjoy my reversed Reiki therapy so I tried my best to give them my all. After we completed my ninth undercover super-secret-mission, we had to make two more stops in town before we could drive home. At home, I almost immediately fell asleep and practiced Zuluism for inner balance and Zen.

Yours truly,     

Benji    

Cool Hot Summer Fun: 1

It’s getting really hot again here in Florida. It can get so hot that we can barely think when we are walking or exercising outside. I know it’s a good excuse to get out of obedience training… Of course, us canines still have to be exercised outdoors so we are always thinking of cool things that we can do without getting a heat stroke. And I’m not kidding here, heat strokes are a potential problem in the summer, see Pet MD.

We will try to think of 10+ things to stay cool this summer. Feel free to add your own ideas. Hey, we could even make a guest post out of it. The first one in the series has to do with???? Yes, you guessed it right, something EDIBLE: a cool snack for whenever the need is high. How cool is that?!

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Testing: Take 1

So what is a cool snack? Frozen veggies are one example. Just cut some carrots or other edible veggies and throw them uncooked in the freezer. Now that summer is in full swing, I will start taking them on my secret missions. Why? Well, for several reasons: 1) It doesn’t leave a mess on floors and human parts like some doggie treats do; 2) especially carrots always seem to be available in the fridge; 3) it’s dirt cheap (this should be listed as number one as this seems important to headquarters, not sure why because my treat account keeps growing); 4) it’s super easy to make, and I know this because I always supervise the cutting process to ensure that nothing gets wasted; 5) it’s literally and figuratively speaking a cool snack; 6) it’s crunchy; and, 7) Ms. Zulu and I love ’em and that should obviously be the most important reason!

Of course, we had to test the frozen treats before I can take them on an actual mission. Both Ms. Zulu and I happily volunteered. I am sad to report that the first take was successful, so no other experiments are to be expected. On another note, I was able to convince M that we should also take some of our fruit filled ice cubes* with us in the field. The cubes can sit in a cooler in the car while I’m busy so that I have a refreshing snack afterward. I’m hoping the ice cubes need more testing.

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Stay cool this summer, don’t forget to bring plenty of fresh water with plain ice cubes wherever you go, and please tell everyone not to leave any pets unattended in the car for any period of time,

Benji

* Fill an icecube tray with some edible stuff such as a bit of peanut butter, banana, or blueberries. Pour water on the goodies, let it freeze, and voila you got doggie ice cream. Again, always make sure you only use fruits and veggies that are safe for your pet to eat. 

MP-8 and Mail

On Tuesday we had another Mission Possible made possible by Dogtors without Borders. Yeah, I know it’s a shame that Ms. Zulu can never join me on these trips, but she probably likes her naps at home better anyway.

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Waiting for the mail person to pick up the mail

There was lots of stuff going in and around the ER this time. Ambulances were driving up, people were wheeled in with all kind of devices, even on brancards. I hadn’t seen the brancards before. They were impressive I have to say. The nurses were quite busy and could use some of my reversed Reiki afterward. The carrots and other yummies kept me on my feet. I was thankful for the sweet teenager who kept feeding them to me.

Once I got home I got to take a nap. Next, I wrote two posts about my adventures for my blog, and a postcard for Kosmo my pal in faraway Finland. Kosmo’s mom always has interesting stories to tell about Finland. Can’t wait until the postcard gets delivered. Wondering how long it will take this time. I looked it up on Google Maps and it tells me that it takes about 16 hours to fly to Finland from here…  That’s a mighty long time!

Have a great week guys and girls, remember to take lots of naps,

Benji