CANADIAN HIGH PRESSURE OVER HUDSON BAY -or- HOW MUCH MY DAD HATES THE %$#@*&$%#@ WINDY CHILL OF THE LAST EIGHT WEEKS.

“I didn’t know you could hold a pen.  And you’re drawing a picture, too?”

“Border collies are very aware of the weather, not that it bothers us much, and I am a big fan of Tom Skilling!  He has been talking about the HIGH pressure dominating our weather here in Madiganistan, oops, I mean Northern Illinois.  The HIGH pressure over Hudson Bay, way up in Canada.”

Yes.  The HUGE SPRAWLING HIGH PRESSURE over Hudson Bay that is funneling this constant flow of cold, chilly, refrigerated, ice-cube-spitting wind.  See illustration below.

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My Dad does NOT like the wind.  Since mid-February, there have been just two days where the winds were calm.  And, My Dad isn’t the only one with that crazed look tucked underneath two hats and a hoodie, and gloves, and three layers, and sometimes ski goggles…I know…My Dad sort of looks like The Thing when we’re out for a walk.

And this weekend was really heart-warming (or is it, heart-rendering) in the wind-cold-rain-snow categories.  Over 36 hours of wind-driven rain, followed by snow-rain mix, followed by icy streets and wind driven snow.  Did I forget to say it was windy?  OK, ask.  How windy was it?   30-40-50 mph with gusts that turned My Dad’s umbrella inside-out.  He gave up on the umbrella and switched to the Eddie Bauer Storm Coat – with the hood pulled up.  At least we didn’t get hit like Green Bay…over two feet of snow.  Hoooooowl.

I can tell when My Dad is irritated with the wind.  He makes this sound, sort of like a car with a flat tire…PHUUK-PHUUK-PHUUK-PHUUK.

So, picture the North American continent.  Starting at Portland, Oregon, draw a line towards the east.  Portland-Boise-Denver-Kansas City-New Orleans-Miami.  Everywhere NORTH or NORTHEAST of that line is cold and windy.  Back to the weather map, and then another LOOOOOONG walk – right, Dad?

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A DESTINY REALIZED and WHEN IS A THERAPY DOG, NOT A THERAPY DOG?

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Magic turned four years of age on February 8th.  There is a level of maturity, confidence and situational-awareness comfort that has really blossomed in him over the last eight months.  We took the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) test in May of 2017 and he was “dinged” on the portion, BEING GREETED BY A FRIENDLY STRANGER.  Since the dog requires 100% to pass the test, MAGIC failed.  However, looking back on that part of  the TDI Test, last May, I came to the realization that in MAGIC’s brain, the approach of the so-called friendly stranger probably didn’t look too friendly.  Bent-over from the waist, arms bent at the elbow, a slooowww approach…sort of like this, at least in MAGIC’s mind:

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A frequent activity for MAGIC and me is taking my sister, Mary, to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for business flying and picking her up at ORD upon her return.  For the pick-up portion, I will arrive 60 to 90 minutes early, park in the short-term garage, and bring MAGIC into the United Airlines Baggage Claim area.  We have never been challenged.  The Chicago Police will stop by for a  friendly chat.  And we just sit and wait and watch.  The goal with the airport visit is exposure to people, people approaching, being approached by friendly strangers, different smells, different noises, activities that MAGIC does not normally have in our homogenized suburban complex.  MAGIC is wonderful with whispered verbal commands and subtle hand signals.  He settles IMMEDIATELY and at ORD loves to just…watch.  Watch without reacting or responding.  Just watch.  I find it very interesting how a very black dog laying quietly on a white terrazzo floor is simply not noticed by the large majority of people.  But, MAGIC is watching, observing, assessing, smelling, taking it all in – and being a VERY good boy about it.  Dogs walking by, usually very small dogs, do take notice MAGIC, and they keep a very close eye on him.  Still, not even a twitch from MAGIC.  During one of these baggage-claim visits, two women on their way to Europe had a several hour lay-over and chose UAL baggage-claim to relax and check their phones.  Without a word or a look, they sat next to me and MAGIC.  MAGIC noticed them, was aware of them, looked at them, but did not move – at least for the next several minutes.  But after a few minutes, he stood up and approached the two women who were obviously comfortable around a well-behaved dog.  His approach was respectful, inquisitive, but his approach also had an element of friendliness, “Hey, my name is MAGIC, I’m a cool dude, you can pet me, I won’t hurt you…”

“May we pet him?  What is his name?  He’s so calm…”

So it went with the visits to ORD baggage-claim.  Calm, cool, collected.  Friendly strangers, smiling and eager to say HI to a dog, as if MAGIC was the last dog on earth.  MAGIC’s comfort level  and confidence rising with each approach.  And I realized that MAGIC was coming into his own with greeting people, and being greeted by people.

20171206_184524Mr. Smooth Operator watching EVERYTHING at ORD.

A dog at the airport suggests at least two reasons why the dog is present:

The dog’s presence is in an official capacity.  Think law enforcement, drug interdiction, explosives sniffing.  MAGIC’s prick ears, coloring, and, let’s call it, “attention to detail,” certainly give him the look of Mr. Official Capacity. Or,  the dog is a Service Animal,  accompanied by it’s handler.  MAGIC is NOT a Service Animal.

MAGIC and I tested again with TDI on a Sunday afternoon at the end of January.  By this time, MAGIC had transformed himself into Mr. SMOOTH Operator.  Very laid-back, comfortable with himself and his border-collie-ness, no need to mix it up, or even show awareness with the nine other dogs being tested, very content with watching the “testing circus,” so to speak.  I expected to see well-behaved dogs and calm, under-control handlers.  I was very surprised to see and hear skittish dogs, loud commands, taut leashes, repetitive commands, stressed dogs.  In the back of the testing facility, there were three men and two women, all five wearing official-looking black sweatshirts.

Magic’s test was easy.  Whispered voice commands, subtle hand commands, a sense of aloofness with the other dogs being tested.  The Tester commented twice, “You see how this handler is barely whispering to his dog?  There is no need to shout at your dog…”

At the conclusion of the test, MAGIC and I were immediately approached by the “black sweatshirt” crew.  “We want your dog in our group, that is an awesome dog.”  So, the following Thursday, MAGIC and I spent four and a half hours at the VA Hospital in North Chicago.  Long-term care, regular patients, PTSD, mental health, Vietnam vets.  Whether he was greeting or being greeted, MAGIC was outstanding.  Moved well in hallways, stairwells, with the group, kept the pace, never faltered, really an outstanding effort on his part.  However, disturbing behavior with one dog and it’s handler will prevent MAGIC and me from staying with this group.  One of this group’s dogs, a slender black mixed breed female did NOT want to be there.  Her story:  She was being “transitioned” from a Service Dog, whose situation did not work out for her and the previous owner, to a Therapy Dog.  Tail tucked in between the rear legs, ears back, a serious reluctance to engage with patients, this group’s clients, if you will.  The handler was DRAGGING the seated dog on a taut leash up to the patients’ faces.  And some of you may be thinking, “What does a dog do when it is stressed?” I brought this behavior to the group leader’s attention.  Astonishingly,  his reply was, “The dog is going to have to fight through this…”

Wow.  I have decided to return to Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy (RAAT) where my prior Border collie, CODY, was a valued canine team member for Reading To Dogs and Children with a Profound Fear of Dogs.  Our six hours of additional training with RAAT begins next Thursday.

MAGIC has a new canine friend – a female, go figure!  Her name is TAVA, which is Russian for COMRADE!

 

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MAGIC and his new girlfriend, TAVA, waiting for the soup wagon in Chelyabinsk.  Comrade!  (Photo courtesy of the People’s Canine Welfare League in Chelyabinsk)

 

 

 

 

 

yes you heard me correctly, I want to hear your dog growl

The need for dogs to express themselves through their modes of communication!

Nancy Tanner

If you have been a parent to young children, you know that when things get quiet, something is going terribly wrong. Marker drawing on the wall, flushing cereal down the toilet, cutting their hair or their siblings hair or the dogs hair, or going out the front door for a neighborhood walk about, etc. Silence is not golden, unless everyone is relaxing together.

Laughter, talking, singing, crying, really any form of verbal communication is a welcome sound to any parent, it means their child is trying to tell them something directly or indirectly. There is information there that a parent can learn from, teach about, or simply give some well needed comfort.

It’s much the same with puppies and dogs, with the differences being, we aren’t the same species, and dogs speak canine while we speak human.

Dogs, similar to humans, use a combination of body language and verbal language in order…

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DREAMING ABOUT CATTLE DOG ANCESTRY

Yesterday, I was visited by Patrick of Shannondale and Sasha of the Bloody Stump.  Whoops, just kidding Sasha!  I think her real name is Sasha of Pimlico, SOP for short.  Anyway, their visit was unannounced.  My Dad and I had just returned from grocery shopping and who was awaiting our return?  His brother, Ed, one of my favorite people, Patrick of Shannondale and Patrick’s minion, Sasha the Hobbler (just kidding, sort of, Sasha).  Well, perhaps I’m not kidding…  Sasha has a reputation, apparently very well deserved, for OVER-gripping (gripping is a herding dog term) on the backs of humans’ legs, ankles, and achilles zones.  And the OVER-gripping results in the drawing of BLOOD.  My faithful and loyal readers will certainly remember Patrick of Shannondale, pictured below wearing his t-rex collar charm.  Patrick is an excellent play-fighter and we are very good friends.

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As far as Sasha the Maimer is concerned, I was introduced to her when she was a puppy.  Remember, I wrote about my initial training efforts with her?  Sasha the Gnawer is pictured below in her puppy days.20160830_191154

When she came INTO my home, yesterday, I ignored her.  I could tell she was uncomfortable with me.  And, Patrick, was being very protective of her.  There were a few opportunities when I felt like initiating play activities, but Patrick would stand between us and give me, “eye.”  I, too, understand the meaning of “eye,” so I thought it was best to just stare out towards the back yard and mind my own business.  I am VERY good at minding my own business.

Last night, while sleeping on My Dad’s very comfortable down-filled Eddie Bauer storm coat, I had a very unusual dream about Sasha’s true animal ancestry, and here are some images downloaded from my brain:

MORAL EEL TEETH

Perhaps Sasha’s teeth summoned this image?

Peccary Babies Sniff New Digs

And these baby Peccaries do share a very close resemblance with Sasha.

My work is finished for the day.  Off for a walk in our pleasant frigid weather.  Love, MAGIC.

THE MASTER ILLUSIONIST REVEALS HIS CANINE DNA RESULTS…

My entire life, I have been told by humans that I am a Border collie.  I was rescued as a stray, homeless, in Adams County,  southwestern Illinois, along the Mississippi River, near Quincy.  A woman found me eating garbage out of a dumpster, I was just a baby.  I was kept in a shelter with other dogs.  A very sad place.  A man from Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue drove me from Quincy to Crown Point, Indiana, where Kathy P. fostered me.  I remember Kathy, she was very nice to me.  She talked to me a lot, and you now what?  I understood everything she said to me.  I had never lived with humans, never set foot in a house.  But I realized, deep in my soul, in my spirit, that humans were good.  My Dad came to Kathy’s house and as soon as he saw me, I remember him saying, “He’s perfect, I will adopt him.”  And two weeks later, I was living with My Dad and his Border collie, Cody.  Four weeks later, Cody crossed the bridge.  My Dad was very sad.  But, I knew My Dad was very happy with me.  He taught me, very patiently and quietly, to not lunge at cars, how to go for rides in the car, how to go for walks without a leash, how to listen very carefully  and also watch his hands.  I have always been a very quick learner.  So, take a look at a few of my pictures.  Don’t I look like a Border collie in the “classic sense?

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And Border collies have some distinctive traits, that I have, too.

  1.  Plop and drop – no spinning around in circles for BCs.  When we lay down, its plop and drop…more efficient
  2.   Eye – I use this on My Dad a lot.  Let’s him know I am ready, willing, and able for the next command.  I also give “eye” to dogs who are checking me out.  I stand my ground, and give the prospective friend “eye.”
  3. Very intelligent – I am a quick learner and I respond immediately to My Dad’s commands.
  4. Watchful – My Dad can leave me outside and I watch everything.  I will NEVER run away.
  5. Herding instincts – Gripping is a herding dog’s way a getting the attention of the stock they are in charge of.  I grip My Dad on the back of his left thigh to get his attention.  No damage.  When I am out for a ride in the car, I will “herd” cars when we are stopped – twirling rapidly, always counter-clockwise.

However, I do not have an undercoat.  And my BLACK fur is VERY black.  Think,  deep-black, ink-black, coal black, pure black.  But my fur also has a shiny luster to it.

And this brings us to the “reveal.”  My Dad’s sister, Jean, who coincidentally is the proud owner of an Australian Cattle dog, gave My Dad a Wisdom Panel Canine DNA test for Christmas.  And My Dad retrieved the results today.  Drum roll…….

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I know, all of my loyal and faithful readers are looking up Catahoula Leopard dog.  So, seems like my mom or dad were full Border collie and my other parent probably looked like a Border collie…because I certainly look like a Border collie, right?  Everyone says I am a bit tall for a Border collie – perhaps the Catahoula in me?  And I have a great nose, I am very good at tracking, and have a strong prey drive.  The Catahoula, again?

Well, time to go for a walk, the last walk of the day.  And I may keep the results SECRET.  All of my human and dog friends (except for one idiot Newfoundland) like me VERY much and are secure in their belief that I am a Border collie.  I see no need to confuse them.

AFRAID OF STAIRS, ME? and THE INSIDE DOG

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These stairs were FUN!

Last Sunday, My Dad and I went on a SECRET MISSION to Dwight, IL, a quaint rural community in Livingston County, some 90 minutes southwest of Chicago.

“Hey Magic, remember when you were afraid of stairs and bridges?”

“I can’t hear you, I’m writing the blog, my blog…what did you say about stairs?”

“Never mind, I’m going to clean the windows on the Scion…you OK?  I’ll be outside.”

Mmmmm…why would he bring that fear of stairs up, now?  Yes, last Sunday, as I was saying, My Dad and I drove to Dwight on a SECRET MISSION to give court papers to some guy who drove a big white pick-up truck…no big deal, unless I am used as a diversion, or a lure.  Think about it…who would suspect some guy walking with an off-leash, well-behaved, Border collie.  Come to think of it, the use of an off-leash Border collie is sort of the ultimate in “social engineering.”  What person would suspect me of being a nefarious tool of deception, of entrapment, of misdirection, of trickery.  Exactly!  Well-behaved Border collies are so believable, so trustworthy, so credible.  I’m rambling.  Back to the more important part of the day’s adventure.

My Dad was a bit frustrated after our arrival in Dwight.  The white pick-up truck was at the target’s house, but no one was home.  My Dad asked me, “How about an adventure?”  Yes, of course!  As a VERY well-behaved Border collie who is an excellent traveler, I am always up for an adventure.  We had to drive about an hour and I kept a very close watch for livestock in need of discipline – cows, horses, sheep.  And when I spot these blubbering bovines, these blockhead ruminants, I alert My Dad, and he always says, “Good boy!”  And when we slow down to drive through the small towns, My Dad rolls down the rear windows.  Smelling the air, looking for dangers and staring at people in the car next to me is GREAT entertainment.  People will often roll down their windows, talk to me, ask me questions and take my picture with their phone.  “What kind of dog is that?”  Are you KIDDING?  Don’t you see the BORDER COLLIE signs on the car???

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“Yes!  I am a Border collie!  Can’t you r-e-a-d?

ENTERING STARVED ROCK STATE PARK  –  After My Dad parked the Scion, he warned me that people have died in falls at this park, mainly because they did not stay on the marked trails.  “OK, I’ll be careful.”  And I surprised My Dad.  I was running up and down the long stairways and staircases, and across the bridges – WITHOUT HESITATION.  My Dad was amazed!  He kept asking me, “Where is your fear of stairs?  Where is your fear of bridges?”  And I was off leash.  When other hikers approached, My Dad would repeat, “He’s cool, he’s cool, he’s a good boy.”  And so it was.  I usually ignore other people, but if they talk to me, or greet me, I’ll stop, say HI!, smell them, let them pet me.  No big deal.  I really like people.

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No FEAR!  Stairs and bridges are no problem.  I’m a big boy.

After our hike, we stopped in Streator, IL for a (yum-yum) HAMBURGER at McDonald’s!  And upon out return to Dwight, the white truck guy was home and it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.  Of course, while My Dad is doing his investigator-thing, I am closely watching for signs of danger, with my head out the rear window of the Scion xB.

As all of my faithful and loyal readers know, I am a neighborhood celebrity.  I have many canine and human friends. But one of my canine friends rarely comes outside.  She is never taken for a walk, not even an on-leash walk.  Her owner’s idea of “going out” is letting Jazzy (that’s her name) out of the patio sliding door ON THE END OF A LEASH.  That’s it for Jazzy’s walk – FIVE minutes or less, on the end of a leash.  Yesterday morning, My Dad and I were walking past Jazzy’s condo just as the slider opened and Jazzy came out – at the end of the leash.  I could see Jazzy’s Mom standing inside the condo, bare feet and pajamas.  Jazzy’s Mom shocked us.  She stepped outside and unhooked Jazzy so she could play with me.  I know Jazzy likes me and she went all submissive on me.  We ran around for a couple of minutes, then her Mom had to walk outside, in BARE feet, to put Jazzy on the leash.  And that was it, just TWO minutes of play with THE KING of play.  Poor Jazzy…every time I walk by her condo, I see her head in between the vertical blinds looking at me and crying.  Should I bust her out?  Mmm…I’ll discuss this as a SECRET MISSION with My Dad.  Later, Love, MAGIC.

 

 

Building a Dangerous Dog – the indicators

When I see reactive dogs with growling, barking, pulling on the leash, my first thought is, “How is that poor creature being socialized?”

Nancy Tanner

Sometimes a bark is just a bark, squinty eyes are just squinty eyes, and standing still is just being still.

But sometimes they are not.

Sometimes when a single innocuous behavior appears in a cluster of behaviors, it becomes a sign of something very serious that is underlying, and professional help is needed.

As with all symptoms, sometimes it is something and sometimes it is nothing, and that is on a very large spectrum. It takes keen observation and diagnostic skills to sift through what is really going on.

For example, growling in play is not the same as a hard growl, with tight body posture, tip toeing forward, pilo erect, and hard staring eyes. It is important to always have context and perspective.

Dogs are allowed to have opinions, just like we are. But it is what they choose to do with these opinions that interests me most.

Believe it…

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Comforting the Comfort Dog – The Conundrum

More thoughts to ponder when we’re wondering, “Is that person faking it with that dog?”

Nancy Tanner

If you have been on an airplane in the last couple of years, perhaps a bus, or in a store of any kind, chances are you have seen someone with a dog.

I am not sure that the world has become more dog friendly necessarily, but rather more people are finding a need to have their dog with them.

PUBLIC ACCESS DOGS – The American Disabilities Act has guidelines and definitions for dogs in service for medical, physical, or emotional/mental needs. And in-between these guidelines is a gigantic gray area of interpretation. The only aspect that cannot be misinterpreted is the need for any dog in service to be a public access dog, meaning that the dog will not cause harm to people, places, events, things, or other animals, while out in public. So a polite, well socialized, stable temperament dog, shouldn’t all dog owners shoot for this criteria!

LEVELS…

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SECRET MISSION TO PRAIRIE DOG TOWN, A/K/A PRAIRIE DU CHIEN.

“Hey, Magic, you updating your blog?”

“Yes, just finished downloading the photos and thinking of a title…”

“What title did you decide on?”

“You know, something about dogs on a prairie, I was thinking of a colony of Border collies controlling fur trapping and trading along the Mississippi River in the 17th century…”

“No, wait a minute, we talked about this…Prairie du Chien was named by the French fur trappers who named the town after the Fox native American chief, Dog.  It meant Prairie of Dog, and Dog, the chief, lived on the prairie at that location…”

“Wouldn’t it be more interesting if Border collies had settled the prairie, or, maybe, it was a prairie full of prairie dogs…”

“Prairie dogs are NOT dogs!  They are burrowing rodents, like squirrels or chipmunks.”

“Mmm, OK, I’ll stick to the Border collies controlling activities around Prairie du Chien, we’re pretty good at running the show, controlling things, keeping creatures in line.  Why don’t you make a salad?  And thanks for dinner.  I’ll finish up here.  Wow, My Dad forgets whose is writing the blog…”

Yes, yesterday morning we were up and on the road by 6:00 am.  It was still dark when I jumped into the back of the Scion xB.  My Dad said we had a (secret) mission to Wisconsin, about a 4 1/2 hour drive from our home.  With a bathroom stop for each of us in Dodgeville, WI, we drove across Wisconsin on U.S. 18 and pulled into downtown Prairie du Chien about 10:40 am.  My Dad soon discovered that the “target” of the investigation was not working until tomorrow.  So, instead of completing our assignment and driving right back to Chicago, we would have to spend the night in Prairie du Chien.

We found a Country Inn located just north of the Cabela’s headquarters.  My Dad introduced me to the staff and I walked around checking everything out – the breakfast room, the maid’s closet, some garbage cans, the back office.  I, too, have a bit of investigator in me.

My Dad said we were going to the Yellow River State Park, just north of Marquette, Iowa.

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On the backpacking trail along the Paint Creek, Yellow River State Park, Iowa

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I stole My Dad’s right glove…I get pretty clownish after I steal his glove.

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Getting a drink of water after our walk on the trail.

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The view from the highest point in Marquette, IA, a dead-end street.  U.S. 18 is the blue-arched bridge.  We also met the Mayor of Marquette,  Larry Breuer.  Larry said that if anyone has any problems that they want to call him about, his phone number is…JUST KIDDING, LARRY!

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Running along the west shore of the Mississippi River is a single track managed by the Canadian-Pacific RR.  This image is just outside their crew building in Marquette.  The train in the background was awaiting a crew change.  Stretching off to the north was it’s load, at least 100 flat-black tanker cars carrying oil from North Dakota.

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On our return trip today, we stopped in Dodgeville, WI, named for Colonel Henry Dodge who made a pact with the Winnebago Indians, and formed the town with 40 miners who built a smelter and mined lead.  I bet they wouldn’t be allowed to open a lead smelter now days….just sayin’.

 

 

 

GREAT LAKES BORDER COLLIE RESCUE PICNIC 2017, “DO YOU WANT TO GO?”

“Dad, why up so early…? yaaawwwwnnn…”

“You’re kidding, right, Magic?  The Border Collie Picnic is today, in Kalamazoo.  It’s been on your calendar for the last six weeks, we’re on the road with Mary and Bear at 5:45, c’mon, we gotta go for a walk…UP, UP, UP!”

Yes!  The Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue Picnic!  I get to run FREE with other Border collies.  Road trip!

My Dad’s sister, Mary, and Mr. Bear (aka Honey Bear Deluxe…how silly) were waiting outside their house for us at 5:47 a.m. when My Dad and I pulled up in the Scion xB.  For a three-legged dog, Bear can jump pretty good and he has no problem jumping up into the back of the Scion – into MY “bye-bye in the car” spot.  Bear always wants to look out the window that I am looking out of.  He is an excellent example of a Border collie wanne-be, and while he is VERY fast for a three-legged canine, he has trouble handling my deke-out moves when we are playing chase-me chase-you games.  Bear ALWAYS wants to be the FIRST OUT when the door opens, and he gets pretty bossy with me, but, hey, he has three legs and we are very good buddies.  Like I’ve said in earlier posts, all I have to do with Bear is give him some “eye,” and he knows I am the boss.  Sigh, but I pretend that HE is the boss, most of the time.  Bear really likes My Dad and sometimes during our drive, yesterday, Bear would stand behind My Dad and rest his head on My Dad’s right shoulder.

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This is “Skipper,” a rescue from Texas who was here with his Mom and Dad.  My Dad would not shut-up about how GORGEOUS Skipper was.

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“Dad, why another photo of Skipper?”

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Mr. Bear getting a drink…there is always a film of slime, saliva, and bubbles after Bear gets a drink…he is unable to explain why…

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J.J. was a fun guy to play with.  He liked My Dad’s hat which My Dad kept throwing to HIM!  I had to give My Dad a few two-paw pushes in the backside, “Hey, pay attention TO ME!”

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This is JAKE.  He was VERY concerned that I was sneaking up on him.  My Dad’s Scion is in the background.

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Max, a renowned Therapy Dog, an old soul who really likes people.

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The energetic and biddable, “Captain Hook,” who will be going to a new home in the near future.

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The tiny and shy, Miss Scotia (think Nova Scotia).  She LOVED her Mom.

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A gorgeous “tri” raising a paw.

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Nice ears, YOU BABY!

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Calm, affectionate, and handsome…

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“I’ve been soooo good all morning, can we get a sandwich?”