The full house

Introducing the 'K' litter

My phone rang at 11:30 pm. I always panic, that is not a normal time for me to get phone calls. By the time I got out from underneath the pile of furies on top of me, I had a message.

It was Joy from The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs. Cricket was in labor and she had already had her first puppy, a little girl. I knew there was a litter of puppies on it’s way, but I really hadn’t put it on my radar, so I had to scramble to get my gear together and get out the door.

It wasn’t long and Cricket was sending her second baby out into the world. Each baby weighed in at a healthy 1 lb., give or take an ounce or two. Then each baby was given a different colored ribbon to tie around their necks. They are weighed daily and everything is documented just to make sure that they grow up to be healthy golden retrievers.

Cricket was amazing. She knew exactly what to do and when to do it and she took everything in stride. We cuddled her babies for her as she did her job and although she didn’t seem to mind, she knew where her babies were at all times. Humans could take a lesson or two from their canine companions.

Once the fifth baby was born, three girls and two boys, they all bellied up to the bar for a feeding frenzy. We could watch the bellies as they filled up.

After a few hours of sleep for everyone, I went back over to enjoy the less than 12 hour old pups. They were so darn cute.

I was completely in love with the dainty little paws, it was already time to clip their nails.

Cricket was quite pleased with her brood. Every new momma should look so fabulous.

And when she stood up, they all fell into place, but only for a brief moment. I was amazed at how strong and how quickly these little guys could move around.

And now the fun begins. They will start their training immediately. Volunteers come in to pet the puppies. By the time they move in with puppy trainers, between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks, they will be almost house broken and on their way to knowing their basic commands.

I will be following this litter all the way to graduation day in 18 months. More puppy pics to come.

Many thanks to our three hosts Life With DogsTwo Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you’d like to participate, follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

The harder side of puppy training

The swing bridge was wonderful for balance and under the feet movement.

When Joy from The Joys of Assistance Dogs told me the puppies were taking their first outing to the park, I knew I had to be there.

The puppies first went down the stairs and then they had to climb back up them.

Of course, it was during work, so when I saw my boss that morning, I told him I was either going in for brain surgery or a root canal, but I was slipping out of the office for a couple of hours.

Walking on the ledge was just another balance exercise

They were amazing to watch, nearly fearless as they each tackled a new task.

Before any children arrived to play in the park, the puppies did their paces on the playground equipment. It makes sense, playground equipment is developed now so that young children learn to go up and down stairs, balance on the swing bridge, climb… why wouldn’t it be perfect for puppies? And, then, it was play time in the park.

These little guys are so smart and so eager to please, it will be a joy to watch them grow through the lens.

Who’s watching who?

These pups were cute. I sat down in the grass as I was taking pictures and before I knew it, they were climbing on me as if I were a mountain. We were all soaking wet from the grass before we were done. It was so much fun. How dare Joy say it was time for them to go!

Time for the Saturday Pet Blog Hop!

Rock ‘n’ roll

The "J" litter

This is one of the puppies from the “J” litter. They spent their babyhood being loved, cuddled and socialized and now it is time for the work to begin. They are training to be assistance dogs for The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs in Salem.

Meet Tollie, a six-year old assistance dog at

It is now up to their trainers to build confidence and teach them the skills that they will need to become assistance dogs. Tonight their world will include pilates, calisthenics and aerobics.

And they are willing and eager to please.

In the beginning, treats are their MO as they learn to crawl up and stand on the balance ball.

Right now, a treat will get them to the top of the mountain. The goal is to have them complete a task with just a command.

The cones and cross bars are set up high and low. The pups are guided over and under the bars.

This peanut shape thingy rolls underneath their feet. They learn to move and balance with the moving object.

The pups are guided up the rungs of the ladder lying on the ground learning to step in between the rungs as they move from the wider bottom to the narrow top.

One by one, their goal is to reach the top. The trainers were amazing as they patiently guided each pup through their tasks.

This pup is on a treadmill moving at one mile per hour. This will prepare them for moving vehicles.

I can only imagine how tired these little guys were after their workout. But I suppose that in puppy fashion as soon as they had their little happy nappies, they were ready to go again.

Please join us for the Saturday Pet Blog Hop.

One step at a time

Training session at the mall

Last Saturday I followed the assistance dogs with their trainers to the mall. I have to admit that this was probably one of the most impressive things ever. I watched as each trainer took their dogs through the paces. Going up and down stairs, escalators and the elevator. If seeing one dog in a mall is wonderful, seeing 8 or 9 or 10 dogs… that really rocks.

One by one they lined up and showed the world what they could do.

Much to my surprise, the mall offers a wealth of training opportunities for The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs.

There were children to meet and be loved by. I was really jealous, I always want to get down on the floor and love every service dog I meet. But I know that asking permission is a must and when a dog is working, they are working and not always available to greet their fans.

Doors had to be opened. This was probably one of my biggest surprises. When the trainer asked which door would open when the button was pushed, the obvious answer was the door with the sticker. Not the case. It was a different door and each trainer had to navigate their dogs through the door. It wasn’t too much of a challenge for the people walking, but it really does present a challenge for the people in wheel chairs.

They had pull handles for the doors and one by one each dog lined up to take their turn pulling the door so that they could re-enter the building with their trainers.

At the end as the trainers enjoyed lunch, each dog curled up under the table at their trainers feet quiet and out of the way.

Each dog was attentive and eager to please. I was amazed by these dogs.  I feel so honored to be able to hang out and watch them work.

When I grow up


When I grow up, I am going to make a difference in someone’s life.


I will be the perfect combination of companionship, obedience, usefulness and affection.

l will provide a multitude of tasks and be of service to people.

I will open and close doors, turn lights on and off, pick up dropped items and retrieve the telephone.

I will be a loyal friend and give love and companionship to my owner.


I will continue to learn through all of my life.

Jedi and Janie

Yes, when I grow up, I will make a difference in someone’s life.

These puppies will begin training to be assistance dogs for Joys of Living Assistance Dogs. The goldens are nine weeks old and the poodles are twelve weeks old. For the next 18 months they will train with a puppy raiser and upon graduation will give someone a whole new independence in life.

Please join us for the Saturday Pet Blog Hop.


The unsung hero


This is Hank. He’s a one-year old puppy in training to become an assistance dog. When he graduates, he will be a companion to support and assist his human with their disability.

Joy of Living Assistance Dogs

He trains through Joys of Living Assistance Dogs. He’ll spend 18 months training. Once a match is made, Hank will help provide a whole new independence to his owner.

Hank already performs a variety of tasks. I have watched open the refrigerator door and put the ketchup on the counter, pull the laundry out of the dryer, put it in the basket and take it to another room, and untie shoes and take them off. But my all-time favorite was when he finished eating, he picked his bowl up and put it in the sink. It really is incredible to watch.

Hank’s ultimate job will be to support his owner and I have no doubt he will be completely devoted.

Hank was not born with all of these amazing gifts. He needs a puppy raiser. The day after a puppy is born, volunteers begin socializing them. They’re known as the puppy petters. At 8 weeks the training begins. Puppy raisers give their love and affection, time and attention as they introduce the puppy to his new world. Together they attend training sessions, they ride the bus, go to the store, to work and to school. Always together. The hardest part has to be handing back the leash when the training is done. The knowledge that this dog is going to help someone gain a new independence is probably the only thing that makes it doable.

I first met Brett on campus. I was out taking photos and couldn’t stand it many longer, I had to have a photo of he and his dog. I love the days when Brett and his dog pop into my office, they are such a bright spot and it takes every ounce of restraint I have not to get down on the floor and play with the dog.

I know I love having dogs in my life, and believe me, they never put their dishes in the sink (oh, neither do I). I can only imagine the difference an assistance dog must make.

It all begins with puppy raiser, the unsung hero.

Please join us for the Saturday Pet Blog Hop