Monday, June 29, 2009

Remy, Our Newfie Nephew

This weekend our friends Maija and Jason came to visit us. They drove all the way from California to pick up their Newfie puppy, Remy from Katie and Louie's breeders Bill and Bonnie Bennett. It was wonderful to get to spend some time with our friends and it was super exciting to get to see them meeting their baby Newf for the first time.


Remy is one of the most gorgeous Newf puppies I have ever seen. He's also one of the sweetest. Seriously, I think he is as sweet as Katie and Louie!! In fact, Gary and I both fell in love with the little bear within five minutes of meeting him. Gary and I secretly plotted a Newfie puppy abduction, but then gave up the idea because we like Maija and Jason too much to do that to them :-)
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Louie and Remy are half brothers...they have the same Mama: Robin.
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Katie and Remy are second cousins.
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Katie adored Remy as she does all puppies (especially the Newfie type). Louie seemed to like him too, but I didn't trust him alone with the baby. I know Louie would never hurt a puppy on purpose, but he could do some damage if he accidentally stepped on Remy. Katie, on the other hand, is super careful of where she places her feet when she is around a little one. We did manage to get a few closely supervised pictures of the three Newfs together.
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Aunty Charity
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Uncle Gary
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Charity with Paladin, Louie and Remy's Granddaddy
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We were sad to see Maija, Jason and Remy go, but so happy that they have each other. Remy has very caring parents who will lavish him with lots of love... lucky boy... AND lucky parents!!!
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Louie the Love Bug

Yesterday Louie and I went on two therapy jobs. First we went to Easter Seals to visit the children that are residents there. It was Louie's first time at this facility and was a bit more challenging than his first therapy jobs because there were other dogs around this time. Since Louie is an unneutered male teenage dog he is really into posturing these days and wants to make sure that all other male dogs know he is the biggest and baddest boy in the land. He has never been aggressive...not even so much as a lip curl, but he loves to stare other dogs down. I didn't let him visit with any of the other dogs and tried to keep him focused on the kids. He wasn't perfect but I will give him an A-...pretty good for his first attempt.

He did get lots bonus points in my eyes for his interaction with people. One little girl in particular who was about 9 years old. She was in a wheelchair and wasn't able to speak, but she could use her hands. I asked her if she liked dogs and although she could not answer she didn't seem at all afraid. I let Louie slowly approach and he went up and sniffed her face and gave her a couple of sweet little kisses. Her face broke into the most beautiful smile. Her hands went to the top of his head and then her grin got even bigger. I could see that she really loved the feel of Louie's soft fur. She wanted to keep him close to her and a few times she grasped and pulled on his fur a bit. I showed her how to gently pet a dog and she did very well. I was mainly showing her for her future interaction with any dogs. Louie didn't show any sign of protest when she was tugging on him. He just remained his sweet gentle giant self. The little girl petted him several more times before we left and preferred him over the other dogs.

Next we went to the Arkansas Hospice Inpatient Center where Louie brought smiles to more faces. There he had what I think was the most touching interaction I have witnessed so far during my 35 total visits with Katie and Louie. An elderly woman was sitting in a wheelchair in the hallway. I approached and asked if she likes dogs. She responded, but it was unintelligible. Like the little girl she didn't seem afraid so I let Louie approach her. He gave her kisses also and her face lit up. She tried to talk to me, but she was having a difficult time forming her sentences. After we visited some other patients we stopped by to see her again and of course Louie went in for more kisses. With great effort she clearly said "Those are the best kisses I've had in my whole life". It made me so happy to see the joy on her face. Louie is turning out to be a fantastic therapy dog for lots of patients and for me!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rockin' the Opera

Last week Gary and I went to the Arkansas Rep Theater to see The Who's rock opera "Tommy". It was a fabulous show although it was extremely loud. We both wore ear plugs which took the volume down to a mere "very loud". Great music, wonderful actors and a thought provoking story line made for a great evening out.

Before the show started a reporter took the picture below for a local paper and we found ourselves in print and on the web this week. It's a rare picture with no Newfs in sight...LOL
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Sync Weekly
The Who's Tommy at the Rep

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meeting the Cousins

Saturday after the dog show Grandmother, Katie and I went to visit three of my cousins. We had a wonderful time with them. My four year old cousin, J, was very smitten with Katie. He learned how to make her sit, down and shake. J became a bit depressed when it was time for us to leave. I think he wanted Katie to come live with them. They already have four dogs though! J was probably thinking one more "little" dog wouldn't be a big deal :-)

Cousin J Getting to Know Katie
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Showing Off Some Tricks; J loved the "Speak" Trick
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J Learns How to Tell Katie to Sit
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Katie says "Where's My Treat?"
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"That's Better" she says
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Hanging out with cousin J and Grandmother
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Many thanks to the three J's for welcoming us into your lovely home. We had a fabulous time. I think little J is going to be a great dog trainer someday. He's definitely a natural.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Grand Weekend for the Girls

Katie and I had a little adventure this weekend. Friday night we left Gary and Louie at home and drove to Southwest Arkansas to spend the weekend with my Grandmother. My Grandmother has never owned an inside dog, but as the weekend went on she seemed to get very comfortable with having Katie around. In fact yesterday she commented, "Katie just isn't any trouble at all, is she?"
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Katie says "I love my Grandma!"
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Saturday Grandmother, Katie and I drove to Texarkana where Katie competed in Rally Advanced Obedience. I was so thrilled that Katie qualified and earned her second leg. It was a very distracting environment which is something Katie really struggles with, but she did it!!!



Sunday though was just too difficult. There was a handler in the next ring just a few feet away from us throwing a dumbbell for his dog to retrieve. That was just too much for Katie. She was so preoccupied by all of that commotion that she couldn't pay attention to me. So I think our next step is to have someone start throwing a dumbbell in class right next to us while I teach Katie to ignore it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hawaii: The Big Island

The Whole Collection of our Favorite Big Island Pictures and Videos Can Be Found By Clicking Here

Gary and I recently returned from spending ten days on the Big Island of Hawaii. We spent half of our time on the West side of the island based out of Kona in a condo overlooking the ocean.
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We spent the other half of our trip on the East side of the island where we stayed in the Harmony House, a bed and breakfast that overlooks a beautiful and happily noisy 120' waterfall. We kept the windows open and heard the sound of the waterfall, frogs and birds all night long in our dreams.
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On the Kona side we spent quite a bit of time in the water. We snorkeled at a few different locations and saw gorgeous fish, coral and giant sea turtles. We also went together on two day SCUBA dives and I went by myself (with a dive master) on an evening and night dive.
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The main feature of the night dive was Manta Rays. A 10' wide ray swam within inches of my head dozens of times while feeding on the tiny plankton that were attracted to our dive lights. It was amazing to have a creature that weighs over 1,000 pounds right over my head like that. I was deeply moved by the experience. In a couple of weeks I will have a video of that dive to share. I told Gary that Manta Rays are the gentle giants of the sea like Newfs are in the dog world. His response: "Unless you're a plankton!"
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Our other favorite stops on the Kona side were Puuhonua O'Honaunau National Historic Park, Kona Joe Coffee Factory, a hike down a cliff to the black sand beach of Polou Valley, and Honomalino Beach another black sand beach off the beaten path.

Polou Valley:




On the way to Hilo side we went to Kalopa State park and hiked a beautiful nature trail.
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We spent the next day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. One of our favorite things at the park was the Kipuka Puaulu (also known as Bird Park) trail. As we walked through the lush green forest we could hear Hawaiian song birds non-stop. It seems like an enchanted forest. Since the trail is off of the main park road we had the whole thing to ourselves which made it even more dreamlike.


Kilauea Iki Trail was our other favorite trail in the park. It starts off in a verdant rain forest and works its way to the crater's edge. After descending about 400' we reached the bottom of the crater. It felt like we had landed on another planet. The contrast between the moon like landscape of the crater floor and the lush rain forest above was startling. The crater had its own special beauty: warm steam vents, piles of lava rock, plants growing in precarious places, cracks that seemed to go down to the center of the earth and beautiful lava formations.
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That night we drove to the coast to see red hot lava flowing into the ocean...another amazing experience.
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On the Hilo side we also had the best snorkeling of our lives at the Waiopae Tide Pools. We saw the largest Green Sea Turtle ever, gorgeous coral and an amazing variety of fish. My all time favorite was the parrotfish which was dappled in pink, light blue, purple, green, orange and yellow. Our book described this place as otherworldly and that was a perfect description.

Parrot fish:


One day was mountain day. We drove up to 9,000 feet to the visitor's center on Mauna Kea. There we got to look at the sun through a special filtered telescope. We were lucky that we got to see a solar flare happening during our visit. We also did something few people do on this island. We drove up to over 11,000 feet on the sister mountain Mauna Loa. There isn't much up there besides a handful of scientists from around the world conducting atmospheric tests, but we enjoyed the view.
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The drive was on a one lane road that deteriorated more the higher we got on the mountain (see video). Thankfully we didn't run into any cars because there were very few places to pull over since both sides of the narrow road were surrounded by rough lava formations.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is also near Hilo. It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. It's sometimes called Eden by the Sea. It has a nice waterfall, beautiful coast line, parrots, a couple of streams and lots of beautiful plants like the ones pictured below

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Onomea Bay can be viewed from the gardens
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Bamboo Hugger
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Our Hawaiian Vacation ended on a sweet note as we were entertained by musicians and dancers at the airport.


When we got home we had a wonderful reunion with Katie and Louie. I think we both got a month's worth of kisses in the first five minutes that we were home. We all missed each other and are so happy to be back home together at the Happy Haus.
For More Hawaiian Fun Click On This Link

Aloha

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Louie Was Awesome Tonight!

Tonight Louie, at just 16 months old, made his first dog therapy visits. We visited the Good Shepherd Nursing Home and the Arkansas Hospice Inpatient Center. He was as good as gold at both facilities. I am so proud of our puppy. He brought so much joy into people's lives tonight. At least 5 different people asked to take pictures of him including these two EMTs. It amazed me how many people came right up to this 125 pound dog and got down on the floor with him and started petting him and cuddling without a bit of fear. They could tell by his face that he is a total sweetheart which is SO very true; Louie loves everyone he meets. Tonight was the beginning of a very successful dog therapy career.
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