Alma – Chapter 2

Ro’dan looked around the foyer as Alma closed the doors and bolted them. She quickly moved over to the windows to peek out them. Ro’dan was in awe of the large house. It’s grand stairs and large rooms that were open to the sides of the hall gave more merit to the high standing of this odd young lady. However, the rooms were completely bare but clean of any dust. She must be a street child like himself who happened to find an empty house that no one missed and had been using it as her own. Ro’dan thought on it for a moment more and realized that this new place could serve very well as a base. Allowing them to pull more elaborate cons on people. Maybe he could use this daft girl’s kindness to get her roped into letting him do as he pleased.

Alma pulled away from the window to face Ro’dan, “Well, it doesn’t seem to appear we were followed!” Alma looked at the boy as if taking in who he was for the first time. “Oh, um,” a sudden shyness appeared across her face. “I mean, I know I should have properly asked you over and had refreshments ready but I got so excited that I was going to meet a real life cutpurse that I just flew away with you.”

Ro’dan cocked his head to the side and smiled his most charming smile. This was going to be too easy. “Oh my dear, I can understand how excited you must have been to share this wonderful place with someone.” She seemed to shift her feet in thinking what to say next. “Did I remind you of an old lover? Perhaps of your father?”

Alma’s head quickly snapped up and she held rage in her eyes. “You would be nothing like Father. Never speak of him again.” and like that, the firm overtone and glare was gone and again replaced with the mousy looking girl again. “You didn’t remind me of anyone. I just got excited to meet someone I had only ever read about in Father’s books.”

Ro’dan smiled again. A learned girl huh? Not a street rat then. Even easier to fool. “Well, I don’t know much about books ma’am but I would be happy to help you, however, I can.”

Alma smiled brightly and nodded. “Yes, I think I could learn much from you. Come with me.” Alma turned and headed up the stairs. Ro’dan followed, keeping an eye out for anything that could be of value, but being sorely disappointed. This house was kept well clean but it lacked any kind of personal touch. He was almost ready to offer to bring Alma a chair when she grasped the handles to the closed off room at the top.

“This place means more to me than anything I could ever own. It stands to reason that, if you are foolish enough to harm, dirty, or steal anything in here, I will use all of my life in the pursuit of you and your kin for the rest of my days. I will haunt you from beyond my grave and I will lay claim to every generation that comes from your line. Do not test me, cutpurse, I know many a curse from wicked Voodoo priestesses from the swamps and dry lands. I will use them on you before you can blink.” With that, she waved a hand over his head and said a few odd words then spit on her thumb and touched the bottom of her shoe.

Ro’dan wasn’t sure if he really believed her but any man of his age knew better than to risk the eye of God or anything else that could ruin your life. She looked so determined that there was no doubt left in his mind that she meant every word she said. “I swear on my mother’s grave that no harm shall come to this house from myself.” He used his sweetest puppy dog eyes and that seemed to please the odd girl. She nodded and lead him into the room with a grand sweep of her arms.

“Welcome to the Library of Mr.Wonders.”

Izzy – Week 4

Izzy is gaining traction this week with her learning. We need to start practicing outside but for now, we are impressing our SD trainers with how well she handles new people and situations. She also has several of the more advanced things happening, which means that now that she has gotten her booster she should be good to start working in the public! A very exciting step for both of us as it means she is getting closer to being able to work with me everywhere. She is still only 3 months old but she is making some amazing progress. She is also progressing in her height and weight.

 

Digging and chewing on things we don’t want her to have, like my lawn butterfly. I got a chance to have my cousin and son work with her and see what training her is like. So here are some more fun pictures from that.

Also, she has figured out she is now tall enough to put her paws up on the counter and peek what might be up there for her. Which means we need to control that now or risk never being able to hide anything from her again!

HOMEWORK:

  1. Continue to work on being able to open the front door without her trying to get out or say hello to whoever is there.
  2. Continue practice on heel and keeping her next to my side when training.
  3. Keep up the invisible barriers
  4. Recall!!!!!!!!!
  5. Recall!!!!!!
  6. and RECALL!

If you can’t tell, recall is going to be one we need quite a lot and she needs to know it without any issues. I hope to start taking her to what my trainers keep calling, “The depot” which, I don’t know what that means but apparently it is a place where lots of service dog teams meet up for socializing and working with their pups and getting tips from old pros who might offer some help.

Either way, Izzy and I are stoked to get out there and start meeting other people and teams and get our training some practice.

Happy Birthday!

Kris here,

Tina thought she was being hilarious and posted like a 2 sentence blog earlier about it being her birthday but c’mon now, we gotta do more than that. Even though she did, I can’t just right out put a number to my wife’s age, but I can hint that it’s somewhere roughly exactly at the square root of 30². It feels like we just started dating and we’ve already been married for about 64 years now – look at us during Christmastime in Oklahoma City when we were just kids. How adorable!

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You can really tell a lot from this picture. Tina loves holidays, I love taking glamorous selfies, and dignified is my best pose. Also I think that little girl in the background was being attacked by wild turkeys or something but she’s probably fine.

Tina is an amazing wife and an amazing friend to share my life with. She and I have been on some hilarious adventures together

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and she’s a master craftsman

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One time she even befriended the ghost of a Pikachu

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She’s a woman of many talents, and I don’t think there’s anything she can’t do if she puts her mind to it. Everyone be sure to take a moment to wish Tina a happy 19th-ish birthday and we’ll get you some more Izzy updates in a couple of days.

 

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…….

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Izzy – Week 3

This week saw a lot of growth. We got ready to go to OKC (Oklahoma City) to pick up my oldest child and my sweet cousin, I took Izzy to get a full check up and to make sure she would be okay to travel. The vet let us know that she did have a blatter infection and that she was all set to travel. We knew that we would have to make frequent stops and allow her time to try to go potty as many times as she needed. I also found she had grown another whopping 4lbs, bringing her total up to 28.6. With a nearly 30lb puppy, I knew she had to be restrained in the car so we could keep her safe and everyone happy on the road. I got a seat cover, and harness seatbelt latching system for her. I laid down her bed since she understands that as a place to relax.

Well, it worked well enough. I ended up with two sleepy heads on our way into town.

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Nik having decided to color on himself and the dog ended up with the markers revoked but they still had a fun time togeather. When we got into town, Kris took out her playpen and set it up into a travel kennel, since her’s was too big to fit in the car. She wasn’t so sure about it at first, so Zac and Nik climbed in and hung out in there to show her it was a nice place to go. Being the puppy that loves everyone that she is, she walked right in with them. I was tempted to leave them all there and go see a movie but, my mother guilt kicked in.

We packed everyone up and moved Izzy to the back with a blanket blocking the back window to help keep her shaded. We checked on her several times but she seemed to enjoy being able to sit up and check on her boys at any time. This lead to several very cute moments where the boys had their arms stretched behind them as they loved on her or played tug over the seat. But as I was the driver of our trip I couldn’t get all the cuteness in pictures. I did manage, however, to get Kris to snag this cute one.

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We met with our Service Dog trainer and she gave me a few things to work on with her. The biggest thing is controlling her boundaries with only my voice. Making invisible lines around the house and keeping her under control when opening the door. Also her general manners. Learning how to great people. Now with a house full of three very different boys, it will make her week so much more interesting.

 

Alma- Chapter 1

Whenever Alma thought of an adult, she thought of the firm stiff nature that her mother possessed. Her mother was a force. She could hold people at bay with nothing but the sound of her firm voice. She never wavered when she had made up her mind and she never backed down. Alma often thought of her mother when she was out shopping and someone snagged the last roll of bread or butted into her conversation with the butcher to order their own meat. Alma never had to be hard. She was soft spoken and soft in spirit. She followed readily down any path that others had already made a trail for. Alma was soft in the ways of dealing with anyone. She often saw herself as a cloud and her mother as a tall mountain. The clouds would never break through the mountains, she just had to bend and split and make her way around them. Conforming to the needs and wants that lay before her.

It was a sad but easy life for Alma. Until the day mother died. The brisk men in dark suits showed up and demanded this or that. Stating that her mother had no right to keep them from it. Alma could do nothing but sit by as the men took things from her home to pay for the rest of the debt on the house. She would get to keep living there but with far less of the art and specialty pieces her mother had fawned over. She was left with her own meager mattress and the books. Her father had loved books. He had spent his whole life learning and collecting as many stories as he could. He was a dreamer and very soft as well. Alma supposed that is why mother was so hard, to counter father’s soft. Father passed away when Alma was only 10 years of age. Her mother had made talk of taking out the books and turning the room into a rented room for extra income. That was the only day that little Alma took a stand. Well, rather a sit. She sat in front of the doors to the office all day and night. Refusing to move, no matter the beating promised or candies offered. She sat there clutching tightly the last story her father had read to her.

If she thought back carefully she supposes that one could say mother was proud of Alma for finding something to hold on to. Even mother had hated the idea of getting rid of such a large collection that was such a part of their lives. So she gave in on this one thing, with the solid understanding that Alma was to be the sole owner of the office and as such, it was her job to keep it neat and tidy. Every morning Alma would set to work dusting off all the shelves of books, stacking neatly the last round of reading, shoveling out the ash from the fireplace and hauling it all out. She made sure that nothing was out of place or kept incorrectly. One small thing for her mother to latch onto and Alma feared she would take all of her joy.

The books were a shared world where Alma didn’t feel small. She felt as brave as the young lost boy on a magical island, or as fearless as the small girl who followed a rabbit. She would find herself wondering how such wonderful and amazing people were even thought up. The only people around her were all quite practical and reasonable people who kept to themselves and worked hard to keep their reputations quite high. She never was able to find people like in her book. Until the night she met Ro’dan. Ro’dan was a young boy who had attempted to cut her purse. Alma having read every book in the large office found many that talked about how to avoid such things from happening. She also realised that this boy likely didn’t have any choice in the matter and was doing so just to save his own skin. Alma caught Ro’dan’s hand swiftly and pulled him close.

“Listen closely, I will make it seem as if I am so upset at what you are doing and hauling you off. You must follow and make it look good for whoever might be watching you.”

Ro’dan was just confused and shocked at the speed of this younger looking lady. By the way she dressed and acted he had thought her to be a spinster for sure. Now looking at her closely he could tell that her eyes and face showed a much younger and lively looking young woman. He wasn’t sure what she was talking about but when she started making a fuss and talking about constables, he was pulling as hard as he could to get away from her shrill voice of alarm. However, her arms and hands were much stronger than he suspected and she easily pulled him down the street and around to an ally way out of sight of his crew. He looked up in worry as this crazed young woman watched people running around and looking confused. She had managed to cause chaos as people started to notice their own pouches emptied. She had a mad smile spread across her face and she turned to face him with those excited eyes.

“You are someone I have been waiting to meet for a long time. Please come with me and have tea.” Before Ro’dan could give a response, Alma took him once again leadingly by the wrist and dragged him all the way to her home.

From the outside, Ro’dan could tell this girl was well enough off. She should have been no different than the average victim of his snatches. However, this girl had reflexes too fast for him to see and a power that rivaled even his own master’s power. She was strong in a surprising way that kept Ro’dan silently waiting for an opening to get away.

Izzy – Week 2

Rounding the corner I feel we have a better understanding of how the house runs. Izzy needs to potty, she gives us a few quiet whines then squats. I’ll tell you what, we are keeping our local HEB out of paper towels… SO MANY MESSES!

Besides the battle of the bladder, we have been working hard at getting Izzy ready for service dog training by working on some basic commands. I had thought to enroll her in a class at my local Petsmart but seeing as how I have limited time this summer to spend with my boys before they both start new adventures, (Kindergarten and Jr. High!) I figured I could work most of it out on my own and get help from books, videos and my hired trainer after we get started with her.

Here are some pictures of a training session with me and Izzy.

First up. Sit.

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I try and teach a hand sign with the words so that if for some reason I couldn’t talk or thought she couldn’t hear me, I could still clearly communicate with her what I expect her to do. For sit, I face one of my hands, normally the one holding the treat, with my palm up and fingers down then pull them up in a single motion as if beckoning someone to come near.

Being a large dog she won’t be sitting much. The trainer said that we should focus more on down and heel rather than sit. Which I get. However. I expect my dogs to sit before being fed or pet. I figure I can transition this to down easily enough since she is learning both.

Which means, next up is Down.

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You can kind of see my hand here because she is still very young, I sit on the floor and use my finger to directly point where I want her face to go. I have started to slowly change this to just a flat hand, palm downward and moving downward motion. However, for now, it is easiest to get her to follow the treat and go to the ground.

Down will be useful in general transportation, meeting new people, going to a restaurant, and just the normal everyday meeting of people. People tend to be least scared of dogs if they are seen in a resting pose such as down. With a big girl like Izzy, it will be best if she defaults to down when relaxing and not focusing on a task.

Speaking of tasks, Ready, Fetch and, Leave it.

Playing tug is one of Izzy’s favorite way to spend time with her humans. As such it provides a great chance to turn her favorite game into a learning chance. She loves to bound around and play tug with her lion, but if I wait and don’t play along she will drop the toy and wait to see what I will do next. I give her a treat and tell her good leave it. Then engage in play with her again. I start using the words leave it when I stop play. Then I get her focus on the treat and my face. The last picture up there she is looking at the treat but she was splitting her focus between me and the treat. Waiting to see if she was doing the right thing.

Fetch was pretty easy. I just tossed it far enough away from me that I could easily grab it again and engage in play. Then she caught on and started to try to get it faster than me. I started throwing it farther and farther and each time she picked it up praising her and clapping and calling for her to return to play.

This is one of her favorite things to do and will play with anyone who picks up one of her fetch toys.

Next up, a silly one. Bang, Bang.

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When having fun with her my brother commented that I should teach her a silly trick that the kids might think was cute or could help break the ice with new people who might be unsure about her. His suggestion was, and I quote, “Dog. Play dead where the tongue luls out of the mouth.” Well, this was quite a task. So breaking it down into smaller parts I knew I would need her to understand what I wanted her to do when I said the phrase “Bang, Bang.” I started by having her go to down then pulled the treat along her side toward her belly till she started to lay on her back. Then I would touch her ribs and say bang bang. Now she has gotten to the point where my 5-year-old can touch her ribs with his finger and say it and she instantly falls over to her side. It amused him to no end and I am sure she gained a full pound from the treats from him because of it.

Back to the practical. Touch, Paw and, Other Paw.

This one seemed to be something she did on her own. She pawed at me for a treat when waiting for another command. I took the opportunity to put a name to it and treat her for it. Touch isn’t anything difficult for Izzy but sometimes it takes her a minute to figure out if you want Paw or touch with the nose.

The hand sign I use is a pinched pointer and thumb holding the treat and three fingers upward for a surface for her to touch.

Lastly, but most practiced! Heel and watch me.

These two are insanely important for a service dog to do. They must be able to heel at a command and with anyone and watch their person for any signs or symptoms that problems are coming up. I personally have a few ticks that I never noticed but my husband has and pointed out to me. These are some of the things she will be trained to watch for, but first, she has to learn to watch!

She has always stuck very close to whichever human is of the highest rank in her chart that is with her. I come in first, then Kris and Nik, then Watson our roommate. (because he loves on her and talks sweetly to her and she only sees him rarely) She is a velcro puppy and I am using that to my advantage to teach her that walking with us is more rewarding than trying to rebel.

Update, The puppy nibbling has reached a slow down except for when she gets too worked up. A quick time out in her playpen for 5 to 10 mins helps her to understand that we don’t want to play with her or have her hang out with us if she is going to bite on us. Kisses have become much more common. Everyone in the house has been instructed to keep their hands away from her mouth and that if she does start to nibble to ignore her and walk away if possible.

She went to the vet for her Microchip and Rabies shot since she will be traveling out of town with me on Memorial day weekend. The bonus was we learned she has grown 4lbs since last week!

Welp, see you all next week!