Thursday, August 21, 2014

Biscuit's Last Month

Biscuit Notes:  I have been learning and growing so much!  I outgrew another vest and it is harder and harder to fit under tables.  However, I am very very well behaved and have even learned to curb the urge to  chase every ball I see AND running little kids.  I like when the kids come to me and give me lots and lots of attention.  I was doing great and then life got a little crazy.......

Lia's Notes:  The puppy is gone.  I wonder how long it will be for this time?  I am enjoying the quiet while I can, but I do miss him.  A little.  

Susan's Notes:  Oprah Winfrey once said “I trust that everything happens for a reason, even if we are not wise enough to see it.”  This past month I have had to make some very hard decisions.  I am incredibly excited to announce that I will be an elementary school librarian for McKinney School District in McKinney, Texas for 2014 and onwards. I can't wait to see what the future brings.  I am full of nervousness, excitement, and overwhelmed with emotions. I know I am leaving behind a school and community with wonderful students, staff, neighbors, friends, and more.  I have loved my years in Pennsylvania and hope to stay in touch with the great people I have come to know there.  
What about Biscuit and Lia?  Lia will join me in Texas.  Biscuit was never mine to keep and unfortunately he could not move with me to Texas.  He returned to PAWS HQ in Michigan last week and though they could see what a great dog he was, unfortunately routine X-Rays revealed some hip troubles which disqualified him from future service dog efforts.  He will serve and live out his years as a family pet, and believe me he will be VERY happy in that role.  He will not miss the vest (he always hated it!) and will have more freedom to run around, chase kids and play.  Someone might even let him sit on the couch.  He is in good hands and will be a very happy pup.  I am grateful for the time, adventures, experiences and most of all the chance to LEARN that I had with Biscuit.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

8 Months Old

Biscuit's Notes:  It has been a long and busy month and I look forward to the times when I can just relax.  It has come to the point that I don't even mind the time I spend in my kennel.  First we took a VERY long car ride to the beach (to hear about that adventure, check this out), and then after all that fun we finally get home when we jump in the car again to stay at another house.  I liked that house, it has lots of flowers to run around in and a big yard to play in.   When we jumped in the car again I thought we might be going home, but instead we went to a new place and it was COLD.  It was also very noisy.  I did not like that noise.  I barked when they blew the first whistle to tell them so!  Back in the car again but I was glad to see my home, my yard and my Lia.  It has been a couple of weeks since then and things were settling down, I was content when my human brought home my favorite thing ever, she calls it a Gimli!  I love it!  It is my favorite thing ever.  I chase it, I play with it.  I share all my toys, I show him how to do things.  I help him eat his food and show him how to get treats.  I love this thing.  This is the life!

Lia's Notes:  Sigh.  What a crazy busy life.  There is ANOTHER puppy visiting again, plus Biscuit so I went from being exhausted to just done in.  I give up.  I let those puppies run around and I just ignore them.  Actually having two puppies is not a bad idea.  They chase each other, and let me be.  At least that is what I thought would happen.......but, that little one.......he seems to have developed quite the crush on me.  Won't leave me alone.  Follows me like a, well like a, love sick puppy.  I regally ignore him and go about my day.  Sigh.  I have a tough life.

 Gimli's Notes:  I don't know what to think.  I am a brave little guy who lives with a great family with four little kids.  I normally run and play all day, at least I thought I did, until I came here and met Biscuit. And Lia.  Oh, I think I love it here.  Biscuit is not a bad guy.  He is just my speed and will run and play, but you have got to see my favorite game.  The human makes him sit (or my favorite lay) down and 'leave it' and I run around, run around, run around.  I actually like to run in circles around Biscuit and even jump over him!  He is not going to get me!  He will just sit there while I do this.  It is hillarious and I love it!  But you know what I really love?  LIA.  She is wonderful, she is so sweet.  She is the best dog ever.  I would follow her anywhere just to sit there and look at her.  I love it here and hope I never have to leave.

 Susan's Notes:  It has been a long and eventful month.  We started with our trip to Florida where I got to trade dog sitting my sister's 3 pouches with Biscuit's help for staying in her (near the beach) house.  Biscuit was great, but our adventures were just beginning.  We returned to PA to house-sit for my parents where Biscuit and Lia can run through and hopefully not do too much damage to my mother's well tended garden.  Then off to Buffalo NY where Biscuit helped me cheer on my brother at his sled hockey games.  Beyond the exposure to the COLD climate this was great exposure to wheel-chairs, crutches and people of many different abilities.  He did not blink at any of this....what he did blink about were the whistles during the game and the COLD benches.  He also had his first hotel stay and did very well.  Not a single problem.  Finally we have returned home and things were going back to the routine when I offered to pet sit for little Gimli.  I have not had the heart to tell the "boys" that he is going back to his own home in just two days.  During this time, Biscuit has also had the chance to visit Ross Park Mall several times while 'my' boys had Apple Camp.  You can see him here doing a masterful 'under' and 'stay' while we worked hard.  He also did very well with the kids in the play place where he got to practice down, stay and ignoring all the kids as they run around......and sometimes come to visit.  My favorite was the little toddlers.  We had one that thought he was playing tag with Biscuit, even though Biscuit never moved.  Then another who found a book and just wanted to read to Biscuit!  He also finished his obedience classes (finished, not mastered or graduated).  He was the dunce of his novice class, and we still have a lot of work to do, especially concerning STAY but we are having fun learning and every new challenge is more fun.


Notes about Sled Hockey:  If you don't know what sled hockey is, you HAVE to check it out.  This site, and the associated film ICE WARRIORS is a great resource to learn more.  My brother Dan (seen above, he is the one that Biscuit is hanging out with and then the one in red in the second photo) has long played sled hockey and this is where I first began thinking about helping with a service dog.  Though Dan does not need a service dog, there are a couple of players that we have seen with their assistance dogs.  It is amazing what these dogs can and will do for their clients, and I am able to give just a little back and help someone like that in the future by raising Biscuit.  The people who think assistance dogs have a rough life and do nothing but work have obviously never seen an assistance dog prancing on the ice or cheering on their human during a game, these dogs LOVE what they do and Biscuit will one day be just like them........though no one knows what climate he will land in.  Isn't it great he has now seen both the hot beach and the cold ice, all in one month!?  What's next?!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Biscuit Visits the Beach

Biscuit's Notes:  I went to the beach!  It was sandy and wet and at first I did not like it.  I am not the kind of dog that appreciates being dirty.  I even clean my face after eating and let me tell you: sand + water + puppy = a mess.  There were also a lot of temptations on the beach:  little kids, balls, other dogs, seagulls, and more!  But I was a good puppy and every time I was told to "leave it" I did.  I watched many other dogs surf the waves, jump into the water to chase balls and by the end of the week I was ready to conquer the water.  I tried, I really did!  I chased that water all over!  But I could not catch it.  I did have a lot of fun though.  I also really liked those other dogs that I got to play with at the house.

Lia's Notes:  I was having a GREAT week, I was the only dog allowed to play with the little kids because the pup could not stop jumping and calm down.  Then they left me.  Not just for a couple of hours, not just for the day, for a LONG LONG time.  I was sad.  A nice lady came to walk with me, but its not the same.  I decided once they got home I was going to be the jumpy one and then they will never leave again!

Ruby's Notes:  Another dog?  First the rat invades my home, then they bring home a puppy that thinks he is part boxer, part kangaroo, part trouble-maker, and now they let ANOTHER pup in the house?  What is next?!  I gave him a chance though, and he is not that bad.  He likes to play, but accepts that I am the boss and will just be chill.  He might actually be better than the other puppy.  Think we can trade them and just keep this one?

Teddy's Notes:  I do not like this pup.  I do not like him outside, I do not like him inside.  I do not like him in a crate, not on my rug not upstairs or down.  I do not like him anywhere.  I am ten pounds of pure meanness, but don't let my size fool you....I control the other two dogs and with a simple command, a small bark or growl and that pup will be scurrying for safety.  I have had it.  No more puppies!  No more I say.  If I let them get away with this, what is next?!

Simba's Notes:  I actually like the puppy.  He is my size and likes to play.  I can tell.  I don't know why I have to be in the crate every time he comes out to play.  I do what the little dog says, I try to play.  I am really really good at playing.  So what if I get a little carried away?  It is all in good fun, right?  No?  Ok, I will be good, can I come out to play now?  No?  Sigh.  Really loud sigh.  Moaning sigh.

Susan's Notes:  I recently took Biscuit on the LONG drive from Pennsylvania to Jacksonville Florida, where I was to dog/house sit for my sister while she and her new husband finally went on their honeymoon.  They left behind their three dogs:  Ruby is an older (6+ years old) lab mix that was originally my brother-in-law's dog; Teddy, who is the little (rat) Dachshund/Chihuahua mix that has a Napoleon complex and was originally my sister's dog; and the puppy they adopted together:  Simba, a boxer/pit bull mix who is only about 8 months old.  Biscuit was GREAT through it all.  He was quiet and patient on the long drive.  He tried to be a good guest and play nicely with the other pups.  He was great, but Simba just did not play nicely so they traded off times when each was in a crate.  He was patient about that and loved the long walks on the beach that provided the exhaustion to make it work.  He got along great with Ruby and learned to tolerate and manage Teddy.  I was a little shocked that he did not like the ocean more.  It was HOT there and the water was just the right temperature, other dogs were jumping in.....and I thought Biscuit loved the water:  he loves showers, baths, and getting wet.  I think the waves intimidated him, but finally he got the hang of it on our last day and to see him chasing the waves was great fun and a wonderful memory.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Biscuit's Notes:  The question I hear the most is "Can I pet him?"  and I don't really understand it but sometimes the answer is "Yes, if he is sitting." and sometimes it is "No, I'm sorry."  I LOVE to be pet!  I love the attention, but there is this small growing part of me that knows that I need to focus on my human and do the work she is asking me to do no matter what. I have a GREAT life.  I get to run around and be a normal puppy at home, playing, chasing, fetching, getting into trouble BUT I am also extra special because I get to go places and do things that other dogs do not when I put on my cape.

Lia's Notes: I have so many questions!  Why did we get another puppy?  Why do puppies have to get so big?  Why does he always want to take my stuff?  Why does he get so many treats for doing such easy tricks?  When is he leaving?  Why does he always get to go with MY human on adventures and leave me behind?  When will he leave? Will I miss him when he leaves?  

Susan's Notes:  There are a lot of questions involved in raising a foster puppy, and I hope that this post will help you to learn some answers. Here are some of my FAQ:

Q: Is there anything I can do to help?
A:  Yes, as you read below you will learn that Biscuit's organization, Paws with a Cause (PAWS), is very special in that it does not charge clients (people who NEED a service dog) for the dog itself.  This can only continue to happen through the generous donations from people like you and me.  Please visit my PAWS to Raise Independence page and click on Support Me!  Biscuit and I and the entire PAWS organization, current and future clients thank you for any little (or big) bit you can do to help!

Q: Can I pet him?
A: It never hurts to ask, but be prepared to be told no.  Assistance dogs, even puppies in training, need to focus on their human/client/partner.  As a puppy, if Biscuit learns to associate fun, attention and the reward of being pet by strangers too much he may start to focus on this rather than his job.  However, he is a puppy and we want to socialize him so sometimes the answer is yes.  I always say he has to be sitting though and in control, otherwise he loses his reward.  I also like him to try to focus on me and not you..........because lets be honest, I am going to be the one feeding him and you are walking away.....which one deserves loyalty?   :-)

Q: What kind of assistance dog will he be?
A:  I don't know.  Just like every kid grows up to have different talents, skills and aptitudes; puppies are very similar and the organization he works with (Paws with a Cause) will work very hard to find him the right job.  Their focus is to train Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs and Service Dogs for Children with Autism.  However, 
PAWS tries to find another working career for them whenever possible. Some dogs career changed from PAWS’ program have become working dogs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, police departments, Detection Dogs, Leader Dogs for the Blind and Crisis Response Dogs.  To learn more about what PAWS does check out this link and at the top choose from the "What we Do" menu.

Q: What if he fails?
A: He will become one of the best trained, most friendly, wonderful PETS in the world.  

Q: What are you training him to do?
A:  Right now, he is a puppy and we are still working on the basics.  As you can see from his blog we are both learning a lot.  At 7 months old, he has graduated from puppy class, gone on to a novice class and is still working on sit, down, stay, under, stand, heal and other basic important skills that need to be taught early and often.  Later he will go on to "puppy college"  where he will learn more advanced tricks, skills and ultimately be placed with a client and learn personalized things to help them.

Q: Will you have to give him up?
A: Yes, when he is about 18 months old he will go on to "puppy college" and then find his career.  I know that this will be hard, and not everyone could do it, but I am glad that this is something that I CAN do and I know that he is going on to a rewarding and well cared for life.

Q:  What about the cost?
A: Anyone who has ever had a dog, knows that they are not cheap.  Volunteer foster parents shoulder the costs for their care as puppies but with this organization, Paws with a Cause, clients do not pay to apply for or to receive their Assistance Dogs.  The sponsorship to breed or rescue, raise, train, place an Assistance Dog and provide ongoing team support exceeds $30,000. There is no insurance or government funding available to sponsor Assistance Dogs. PAWS funding comes from individual donations nationwide.  PAWS’ fundraising and management costs are at or below 13 percent, allowing 87 percent of donor dollars to be used for program services.  

Q: Is there anything I can do to help?
A:  Yes, as you read above PAWS is very special in that it does not charge clients (people who NEED a service dog) for the dog itself.  This can only continue to happen through the generous donations from people like you and me.  Please visit my PAWS to Raise Independence page and click on Support Me!  Biscuit and I and the entire PAWS organization, current and future clients thank you for any little (or big) bit you can do to help!

Note: Please understand that these are my Q and A based on my knowledge and experience and are not official answers for PAWS.  To view official PAWS FAQ visit their site.  If you have more questions about PAWS visit their contact page to get in touch.  If you have additional questions for me, please feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

7 Months Old

Biscuit's Notes:  I don't wanna grow up!  I love to chase my tail and chase balls, and chase the big dog and I REALLY want to chase the running kids.  My human keeps using words like sit, down, stay.  I want to make her happy so I do what she wants, but......I look at everyone else having fun and I want to play too.  My favorite word?  Free!  Then I know it is time to play.  I was in the puppy class at school and I was the STAR!  I loved those other puppies, I loved going to class and playing.  Now, the classes have changed.  The dogs are older.  They are more serious.  I have to pay attention, until it is time to be FREE!  Then I can chase my tail, and balls, and the other dogs.......but I am never allowed to chase the kids.  I know that.  I am a good dog.

Lia's Notes:  I am the most patient dog in the world.  I am the good dog here.  Every time the puppy is told to do something, I do it FASTER!  Then I get his treat,  then he watches me, does it and gets another treat.  No fair.  Who say's you can't teach an old dog new tricks?  I am learning a lot too.  I am learning to sit, stay and NOT growl and bark at the ringing of the door bell.  I am learning to laugh at the puppy EVERY single time he thinks he finds a new toy!  It is hillarious because it really is either:  A.  The toy I hid from him or B.  His tail!  His TAIL!  He will chase that thing, roll over and play with it and thinks it is the best toy ever.  He is soooo funny!  My own personal entertainment system, and I deserve treats for all my learning too.  Plus I'm faster.

Susan's Notes:   Over the last month Biscuit has really grown up.  He graduated from puppy class but I think his whole attitude is starting to mature.  He is not such a baby anymore, really starting to go from puppy to dog before my eyes.  Classes and demands are getting harder and longer (aiming for a ten to twenty minute stay!) and some days we get there and others we have to go back to the basics but I am learning to be very patient and focus on building on those basics.  Down and stay are his hardest commands, especially when there are various "distractions".  We practice as much as we can and he is getting better and better.  Above you see him in our local Barnes and Nobles as I check out all the new books (that was so nice to finally have time for!), and practicing under at the local pharmacy as I wait for a prescription (for a sinus infection, I really DON'T have time for :-)  As we go into the next month we have a lot to look forward to and keep learning.  Biscuit LOVES water and we will soon venture to the neighborhood lake, we are taking a vacation to see our cousins and visit the BEACH (did I say BEACH!?), so we will see how learning to swim goes.  He also has started novice training classes and these are a step up and I hope he (and I) can learn a lot and prepare him even more for what is to come.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

6 Months Old

Biscuit's Notes:  Look at me!  I am making that pillow shrink.  I have been going to school, no not just Susan's school......but I get to go to classes where I learn too!  I like to see all the other dogs there and show off all the stuff I am really good at like sit and stay.  I have even mastered DOWN! I don't like that they are teaching my human so much though, she keeps asking me to do more, and now I have to lay down and wait up to 5 minutes for my food!  It is tough, but I am getting pretty good at being more and more patient with her.  I also love that we are getting outside more, playing, walking and going new places.  But then there are my favorite times when we get to "play" favorite games are under and hide and go seek....I am really really good at those two!  I will even play when I am not asked to.  I am so smart.

Lia's Notes:  Ok, it's not fair.  Biscuit gets to go everywhere.  I have started giving my human my saddest looks when they leave, and after the door shuts, I run outside to sit at the gate and watch them, just in case they forgot me.  It's not fair. I like it better when they are both home, then I can sit on the furniture and show Biscuit who is boss, or run him over in the grass and show him who is boss or steal his toys and show him who is boss.  Who's the boss, is MY favorite game.

Susan's Notes:  Ok I know this month's post is a little late but my only excuse is that I have been BUSY (and that is an understatement).  Luckily I can take Biscuit almost everywhere with me, and he has been so matter where we go.  He went to the hair salon and braved the hair dryer, he went to McTeacher night and braved the kids and all the people, he went to Bingo at school and he has been going to school a LOT (he knows that routine well, as I have been putting in a lot of extra hours).  He has gone to restaurants, shopping and to professional events and I am always very proud of how well he behaves.  I have gotten better about saying "Sorry, no you can't pet him" and have received many compliments about how good he is.  I hope he can keep improving, and we will have to keep working on him because he is far from ready yet!

Special THANKS to the 'Wonderful Teacher' who was willing to take Biscuit on!  Unfortunately there are times when I have to leave him behind little sister got married in Aruba and Biscuit got to stay with a wonderful teacher friend, her two little girls and a CAT!   She tells me that he was well behaved, BUT I know he is a 6 month old puppy that is almost as big as her littlest one!  I am sure that the combination of those two at times lead to a LOT of energy in the room.  I also love to see him with the can see he thought that the cat wanted to play hide and seek too!  That is something we will have to work on with him.  Thank you wonderful teacher friend!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

5 Months Old

Biscuit's Notes:  Will you check out how BIG I am?!  I don't even fit on that little pillow anymore, but I still love it.  It is MY spot.  I am a busy guy.  I have plans almost every day and I get to go to the best places.  I find meetings boring, but I can sit through them (unless I REALLY need to go and then I make a fuss :-P)  I do like to go to the store and if I look at Susan instead of following my nose I get lots of treats.  I like treats.  Check me out playing the "leave it" game,  I get to eat those treats when Susan says "free!"  I like that game but it seems to be getting longer and longer the more we play.  I also like to go places like Pittsburgh because everyone LOVES me!  I am the best dog around.  I even went to a class with other dogs and I was the best!
Lia's Notes:  I am here too you know.  Anything that puppy can do, I can do better.  I am not eating the treats either in the "leave it" game and I know I am better at it because I can get to the treats faster.  He really is not a bad dog to have around but I do not like that he gets to leave the house and I am stuck at home.

 Susan's Notes:  I think he is doing pretty well.....but I am not sure because I am not sure what to compare him to.  We went to our first "puppy class" and I really do think he was the best in the room (though I have to admit all we learned was sit and look at me, I THINK he should have these down by now!), but then I fill out his information for PAWS and I worry that he barks when he is scared (and he is scared of the dark, fog, certain dogs, people with brooms, and things that flap in the night), he does not like his nails trimmed, is my constant shadow....except when he is not and most of all he has a personality.  He is VERY smart but he is also stubborn.  If he does not want to do something he sometimes will chose not to do it.  However, I am smarter and this is not often an issue because I won't let it be.  Does he chase things?  No, but maybe I am not giving him a chance to chase things?  Does he get along with cats?  No idea!  Does he have free run of the house? this wrong?  I learned that I need to learn more about the rules for PAWS Dogs.
However, he is great when we go to the store, or out to a restaurant and I was really proud of him yesterday.  Saturdays are our BUSY days and we started at Eat N Park where he was great and then traveled to Pittsburgh for a long fundraising walk.  He was pretty good (I won't say he did not have a few moments that need improvement, but overall good) and proved to be a special treat for a really special little girl (pictured above).  Then we ran to the mall where other than being to tired to move was well behaved.  He went on to do well at a restaurant and then grocery shopping and back home.  He is doing so well I am going to take him to the salon...for MY appointment this week and hope he does equally well.  
I think we are ready to start working on the hard stuff.  I need to learn, what is that and how?