Meet #SAGApupKenzo

Kenzo is currently a guide-dog-in-training at the SA Guide-dogs Association for the Blind.

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Kenzo and three other guide-dogs-in-training were fully grown when they were donated to SAGA, so they didn’t get all the training they would have been given by being raised by a puppy walker family.

Kenzo is about a year old, and he and the other three dogs lived mostly outside before they were donated. They were not allowed inside their human’s houses and some of them were left without human company during the day.
For those reasons, Kenzo, Paco, Coco and Charlie are spending weekends with volunteer families to learn how they are supposed to behave inside the house. This includes house training in some cases, learning the “busy busy” command, not getting onto the furniture, not putting their feet onto kitchen counters, not begging, not stealing human food off plates or counters, not to squash or use the cat as a toy 😀 , and not to jump up on Auntie Mable when she visits (or the us for that matter), especially when they have been digging lovely muddy holes in the garden. They also have to be taught not to dig lovely muddy holes in the garden, not to run out of the gate and so on.
These are all lessons that the puppies bred by SAGA have already learned before they go in for guide-dog training.

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As Kenzo is already in training I knew he would be fairly well socialised and I wasn’t worried about Riddick and the girls being aggressive. And I knew Riddick would be thrilled to have a playmate again!
Kenzo was as good as gold in the car on the ride home from SAGA, and he LOVES being around people! He’s very attentive if you’re walking with him, keeping a close eye on whoever is with him to see what you want him to do next. I can clearly see why he was accepted by SAGA for training.
As he’s not allowed on the furniture like our Riddick is, he slept right next to my bed!
He immediately comes when he’s called and he has most of the obedience commands nailed, although we have to work on him going through open doors and gates before being told he may. This is important because a dog running outside- or inside- simply because a door is opened can knock someone off their feet! And it helps prevent a dog from taking off out of the garden gate or running out of an apartment door and getting lost or hurt.
He tends to snatch when offered a cookie so we’ll work on that too, and he’s a little bit defensive of a toy once he takes possession of it from Riddick, so we’ll work on that too.
He did very well when we ate our supper- our first meal with him in the house- and he and Riddick lay down on the floor and paid us no mind which is how it should be. 🙂

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We played fetch in the garden this evening, with Riddick trying to catch both of the balls before Kenzo could catch one, but there was no fighting and we had a good game with Riddick and Kenzo getting gradually friendlier as we played.

I’ll keep you all up to date with Kenzo’s visits in our house!

In The News Today

I heard about a school district in Maryland, USA that has put in restrictions on birthday party invitations, hugs, parental access to school grounds and cake.
Most of the changes were brought about after the school shootings in December. I totally understand some of the rules the 17 schools in this district have applied, but some of them are a little far fetched…

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You’re no longer allowed to hug any children except your own.
Restricting physical contact is fine by me – there are some real weirdos out there. Although I don’t know about you but I don’t think I hugged any of my son’s school friends, and certainly not on school property!

Only registered school volunteers are allowed on the playground.
Again, keeping the weirdos out is fine by me.

Only store-bought baked goods can be sent to school for a class party.
This is to make sure they can verify all the ingredients in the baked goods and avoid allergic reactions. Whilst I understand this, I do feel that home-made baked goodies are healthier…

Party invitations can no longer be sent to the school and parents should develop an email and phone list instead.
They have implemented this restriction because children were getting their feelings hurt if they didn’t get an invitation!
This is the one I think is ridiculous! Children are resilient and they can take a lot more than you think they can. If there is anyone on this planet who is protective of their child, its me – but you can go overboard.

Not everyone likes the new rules. Some parents think enforcing the hugging restriction will be difficult because sometimes the child approaches the adult, but I think thats a stupid argument. You’re a grown up FCOL – wave hello and walk away. And some parents are upset that they won’t be able to go to school and have lunch with their kids, and that even though registered volunteers are allowed on the playground they’re not allowed to push other people’s children on the swings…

What do you think?

Two Weeks In Hell…

That is where I have been banished to.
Okay, we. We are in hell.
My Glugster and I both will be spending two weeks in the very abyss of deprivation.

Today we went to see the dietitian. After a good long appointment which included calculating our weight and muscle, discussing our current eating habits, our lifestyle, our practically non-existent exercise regimen and so on, we were sent home with a very strict two-week programme to get us started.
Whilst I can happily live with no coffee, alcohol, junk food or sweets for the next two weeks, its going to be really hard to give up my Coke…
Its only for two weeks, and when we go back we’ll get a “friendlier” version, which will let me have some Coke every day, but I will have to switch to Zero. I can live with that.

She told us a lot of what we already knew when it comes to food, which wasn’t unexpected. And she suggested when it comes to exercising that instead of trying to start a whole new routine that we simply try to increase the exercise we are getting by walking faster and longer, and taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. As we make progress and get fitter we can look at joining a gym or some such.

The fact that my Glugster and I are both dieting, and both need to lose weight certainly helps because I’m not doing it alone, but I do know how pathetic I am when it comes to self control…
And working in my kitchen all day doesn’t help!
What also makes it a little tricky is the funding – we’re still battling some when it comes to finances and things like fruit, low GI bread and cottage cheese are luxury items for us… But we’ll make do.

Its only two weeks.

I have to keep telling myself that.

I think I’ll keep telling myself that even after the first two weeks is over. 😛

I’ve Got Puppies On The Brain!

Do you remember me talking about Volt occasionally? I blogged about him on my furbabies blog. Volt is the puppy we raised last year for the SA Guide-dogs Association. He is nearing the end of his formal guide-dog training and should be graduating soon. He’s been doing so very well it looks like he’ll be a working guide-dog on schedule – at about 18 months old – and we are immensely proud of him.
SAGA already has a partner in mind for him and we’ll get to see Volt one last time when he graduates with his partner, AND we’ll then be given a photograph of Volt with his partner to hang on our wall.

me and Volt the day we took him back to SAGA for the last time

And we got some good news recently! We will hopefully be getting our second guide-dog puppy to raise near the end of April-ish… We haven’t had confirmation yet of brood-bitch Jelly’s pregnancy, she’s a yellow Lab and she was mated with a black Lab so if she is carrying a litter they could be all black, all yellow or some yellow and some black…
And only once they know how many puppies there are will we get confirmation of whether or not we’ll get a puppy from her litter.

Jelly’s pups will be the “L” litter, so we’ve already been wracking our brains for names for our puppy! So far our short list – of male and female names – looks like this (the ones with asterisks are our favourites):

Lightning *          Lollipop *
Lyric *          Lemon *
Lex/Lexie *          Liquorice *
Lisbon *          Linus*
Lazer          Luna
Lacey          Lambert
Leo          Lionel
Leyland          Lennox
Ludwig          Legolas
Libra          Lulu

Of course, the pup’s name has to be approved by SAGA as they monitor their guide-dogs and service dogs throughout their lives and they can’t have two dogs too close in age with the same name. And since the dog will be a working dog, in public, it can’t be labelled with too ridiculous or vulgar a moniker.

click on the puppy to make a donation to SAGA!

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So what are your name suggestions for the “L” litter?

Food, Glorious Food…

I love food.

I love to eat, I love to bake, I love to cook.
I’m not terribly inventive when it comes to cooking but I can follow a recipe no problem, and I love experimenting with my baking.

I have a sweet tooth, but my favourite “snack” is chips – Lays Plain Salted or Nik Naks or bread sticks… I can polish off a tin of condensed milk in five minutes flat and I love it when its ice cold!
I can ignore my baking ingredients – the chocolate, nougat, créme caramels and icing – but if I experiment with a recipe and make caramel or toffee or some such I can’t leave it alone!

I love junk food…

I love Coke…

And any occasion is an excuse to eat.
Celebrating a special day like birthdays or Christmas.
A shopping trip is incomplete without fast food of some kind.
When I stress, I eat. And then I stress about the fact that I am stuffing my face and I am fatter than I have ever been in my entire life, and I eat some more.
The only time I don’t feel like eating is when I get really angry…

I have no self control. No self motivation. Not when it comes to food.
I joined Weight Watchers once, and spent a year paying off the six or eight weigh-ins I attended, and I lost and regained 5kg.
I have joined a gym three times – paying the discounted rate you get on Vitality – and all three memberships have lapsed because I couldn’t get my arse in gear to go to the gym often enough.
I was seeing a dietitian once, but that fizzled out.

And I know how I am supposed to eat. I know my sugar metabolism is slow so I should be watching my processed carb and refined sugar intake. I know I will do a WHOLE lot better if I just try to do the “everything in moderation” thing, I’ve done it before.
Once my Glugster and I bought into a prepared meal programme and we lost a lot of weight because our meals were prepared for us, they just had to be microwaved. That worked well. But its expensive.

The only time I lost a significant amount of weight was after my Hiatus Hernia surgery in 2006. And the reason I lost so much weight was because it was physically painful if I ate too much! Breads and chicken were too dry to eat and if I ate more than a teaspoonful of food at a time it would get stuck and I battled to swallow it.

And now looking at myself in a mirror makes me want to cry. And feeling like that doesn’t help me stay motivated and focused on other aspects of my life either.

My Glugster and I have an appointment with a dietitian next week, and unless she beats me with a stick for not eating properly, I don’t know if seeing her is going to help at all…