Happy Valentine’s Day from Tahoe

‘Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sporting my red scarf for valentines!’

‘Dad and Mom always get cards for each other that have pups on them…because they love ME!’

Last year from Dad:

Last year from Mom:

This year from Dad:

This year from Mom:
Notice the tear at the top…Mom dropped it and I picked it up and signed it on the way to her lap!

‘The cards are on the fridge. Boy, I look a lot like that puppy.’

‘Let me look from a different direction. Yes, I believe that’s what I used to look like’.

‘Yep, that’s me!’

‘I think I want that card…’.

‘OK everyone, let’s go eat gluten-free cupcakes…or dog biscuits!’

Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

Tahoe Loves His Dad

In honor of our next-door neighbor’s little 12 year old canine, Pepper, I am doing a dog post today. Pepper went to doggie heaven this week and we grieve the loss of our neighbors sweet pup. Tahoe will miss running to the fence and visiting with you Pepper!  I always get ‘doggy contemplative’ whenever a friend loses a beloved four-legged friend.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a woman, or because I’m just weird, but on occasion my thoughts drift to what it would be like without my Tahoe or without Brent. My gratitude for Tahoe and Brent is more intense in these times. Brent is such a wonderful doggy dad and neither he or Tahoe can be taken for granted.

You know, I might not be married to Brent if it were not for my former  ‘Brent magnet’, I mean ‘helper dog’, Murray. Brent is attracted to all canines and they are attracted to him. Let me just illustrate how much Tahoe loves his dad and how much his dad loves him!

When we travel Brent is with Tahoe and me almost 24/7 and Tahoe spends so much quality time with him you might think he’s his helper. He snuggles up for a nap at the Lodge when we visited Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.

…when I go for a swim, Tahoe and Brent relax.

Brent is the best at taking a cat-nap, or should I say ‘dog-nap’, to recharge for ten minutes.  Brent needs his naps because I inevitably disturb his sleep at night…more than once.  Yes, he is a saint.

It must have been a long night for both of them.

Brent always calls Tahoe to come join him at nap time.

Tahoe snuggles up after his after bath.

It’s not just Tahoe who loves Brent – all dogs love Brent.  Here’s our neighbor’s dog, Zeek, visiting with Brent’s size 15 feet.  He is 6’6″ after all.

Dogs are good judges of character.
I’m jealous on the rare occasion it snows because I can’t roll around very well to play,(or tolerate the cold for long) so I watch and drink hot cocoa!  There’s enough Tahoe love for both Brent and me.

After a tough day running around town with me, picking up my pen, keys or cell phone one more time, and fetching his Kong with us, Tahoe’s sleepy and snuggly…and doesn’t care how silly he looks.

At night Tahoe gets himself all snuggled to me, believe it or not…it’s probably because I don’t move or snore like his dad.

Tahoe has a ‘pink’ nose in the winter – it’s black in the summer.  Precious Tahoe and Brent, my blessings, make me smile.

As the year comes to a close we regroup and refresh our goals – living each day with gratitude is a continued goal for 2012. We work together on family direction in different areas like health, finances, ministry, marriage, travel, home improvements, etc.  In my personal life, fostering my gratitude attitude continues to be on the radar in every area.  Sometimes it’s harder than others to refrain from complaint and discontent – it’s worth the effort to thank, even when I don’t ‘feel’ like it. Today it’s easy to be exceeding grateful -Tahoe and Brent rank at the top of my blessings!

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18

What are you most thankful for in 2011?  Are you ready for 2012?

Tiny Tahoes

Tahoe became my awesome helper and part of our family in March 2008 when he was a year and a half old. We didn’t get to enjoy Tahoe’s puppy stage, but were blessed with a fully trained dog.

Tahoe and I recently visited a brownie troop on behalf of Canine Assistants. Canine Assistants is a phenomenal non-profit organization that places 75-100 dogs with recipients each year.

The girls interacted with Tahoe and watched a video that showed the facility where he (and my former helper, Murray) grew up and were trained. The video brought smiles as well as tears when it showed frolicking puppies and adult dogs loving life with their new recipient-partners.  Seeing the video reminded me that we have NO puppy pictures of Tahoe! No, not even one, but Canine Assistants rescues the photo void with multitudes of puppy photos.

Talk about precious….Tahoe was from a litter of nine pups. Each litter is given a theme for ‘names’ like Carribean Islands, Trees, Cars, Cheeses, Dances… and on and on.  All the pups are named according to the theme.

These pups are comfy in a basket.  Tahoe came from the ‘car’ litter – I’m glad he wasn’t named ‘Rover’!

Puppies begin working with human trainers when they are just days old.  All the snuggling with their litter makes affectionate adult dogs.

Obstacle courses improve their agility and familiarity with different environments and maneuvers.

The pups interact with many people and become comfortable with wheelchairs early in their lives. People often say their canine assistant makes their wheelchair ‘disappear’ as the dog’s smiling face and wagging tail invites others to interact with the recipient.

To acclimate to wearing a vest, miniature versions are worn and are used during training outings in public.

‘Oh boy!  We are all going for a ride!’

Kongs are the favorite toy for all, especially my Tahoe…There are over 100 puppies in training all the time!  These puppies were nine weeks old and were named after animated characters like Shrek and Fiona.

We spent two weeks in training camp learning commands, taking classes and tests and working with the dogs and trainers.  Matching dogs with recipients is made easy as individual dogs and humans naturally gravitate to their partners.  This was the second day I met Tahoe…I’m thinking we are a good team.

On this cool day in early March, 2008, we got in my van and haven’t missed a day together since!

I’m thankful for family during this Christmas season – and thankful for my precious (occasionally mischievous)  Tahoe!

Tahoe and Toddlers

Occasionally we get the opportunity to talk to children about service dogs on behalf of Canine Assistants. Tahoe demonstrates general obedience, picks up objects on the floor for me, opens doors, and turns on lights. It’s fascinating and educational for the them.

He is an affectionate, ‘people’ dog. His favorite part of a visit is when we take him ‘off duty’ and allow the children to gather around him for a gentle pet. He rolls over enjoying every second…talk about the center of attention!

Tahoe has an innate ability to bring a dose of cheer to a day and his ministry touches people everywhere we go!

A cheerful heart makes you healthy.
Proverbs 17:22