A new year with my best boy Ike

ike on vacationI would like to dedicate this blog to the quieter member of the Puppyjackpot household, Ike.   Ike is a four and a half-year old Golden Retriever who quite frankly deserves a medal for being Vivian’s big brother.   Ike was trained by his older poodle sister Anna;  I honestly cannot remember potty training him, teaching him any commands or ever, ever disciplining him.   The first time he was left out of his crate while we went to town, he completely shredded a pillow.  We came home to a living room full of feathers and Anna on the couch, not a feather on her with a look on her face that said “I told him it was a bad idea”.  Pushover’s that we are, we just laughed.   That was the only toy/pillow he ever destroyed.

Ike adores anything plush.  Pillows and stuffed toys are treated with respect, well-loved and moved about the house regularly.  He must have a pillow or toy in his mouth every time he greets us at the door, or goes outside.  He dutifully drops it at the door, grabbing it again upon re-entry.   He also loves Greg’s tennis shoe or socks, never chewing them up, simply carrying them around. Ike and his pillow

Ike is also a smiler.  It can scare the uninformed who think he is snarling, but he is not; he only wrinkles up his nose when he is happy.  He understands when we say “Give me some wrinkles!” and will run up to us smiling and tail wagging!   There is nothing better than coming home after a day at work to a smiling, pillow toting Golden Retriever at the door.

Ike was not much a barker.  Anna did the barking for him; Ike was two when she died and he took over that task.  He has a deep growl and a big bark and uses it on the garbage men, the UPS driver, and the occasional logging truck that drives by the house.   Luckily he doesn’t bark long or often and I have no problem with people being aware that there is a big dog in our country house.  Of course what they don’t realize is that as soon as they come to the door he will be greeting them with wrinkles, a plush toy and tail wagging standard poodle bringing up the rear!

We got Ike in Canada and always refer to him as our peace-loving Canadian dog!  He is a lover, not a fighter.  He adores Greg,  doesn’t like  guns,  thinks mice are icky, and  lets a 40 lb poodle boss him around.  Ike and I have a lot in common.

Wishing you all sweet dreams and a warm place to rest your head in 2013! Wishing you all sweet dreams and a warm place to rest your head in 2013!

Thankful for Therapy Dog Vivian!

With our graduation from Therapy Dog Class and passing of the Canine Good Citizen test, Vivian and her pal Chloe were ready to take on their first Therapy Dog assignment!  On the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, Vivian and Chloe made their debut at the Warroad Senior Living Center!   I put together a little program talking about Therapy Dogs and how they are trained and what to expect when Vivian and Chloe visit.  Then it was on to visiting with the residents.  How much fun we had!  To see the faces light up when the dogs came near them, and to hear the stories of their dogs over the years was really neat.

While Chloe stayed in the big room with Jayne and about 15 residents, Vivian and I headed to a couple of rooms where the residents couldn’t get out.  Our first visit was with a woman who was losing her vision, but she loved petting Vivian.   She couldn’t get over how soft and curly Viv’s hair was!   Her friend was visiting and he said he always called her “Poodle Hair” because she had such curly hair, and told her that Vivian looked so much like her, and was as beautiful as she was!   You gotta love a smooth talking gentleman!

Off to my friend Elaine’s mom’s room, where Vivian not only enjoyed the petting but did try to steal a Beanie Baby Bear.  The “leave it” command worked, but she did look back at it longingly as we left.  She is 18 months old; you can only be on your best behavior for so long!

Visiting Tillie!


Back to the big room, where Chloe joined us for a quick trip through the memory care unit.  Chloe has a special lead that allows the resident to “walk” her, without Jayne giving up control of the dog, so Chloe got walked around the memory care unit by one very happy resident.   It was a great afternoon and we are looking forward to beginning our visits next Saturday. 


As I look back on the last year I am thankful for so many things; Greg, the dogs, our health and our families and continued employment in these tough times.  I am also thankful that I decided to blog about bringing Vivian into our lives because it was through the blog and our mutual love of our pups that I became friends with my colleague Jayne and we decided to train our dogs for this work together.  This has been my goal since the day we brought Vivian home, but it really is more fun doing it with someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Canine Good Citizen!

October 4, 2012

We are under a “Winter Snow Storm Watch”, which probably means that fall is officially over.   I am not sure what the snowstorm on October 4th was called, an “Autumn Snow Storm Watch?”   It is cold and blustery outside and I am looking forward to a quiet weekend in the house with my pups, my husband and my fireplace.  Time to relax after a fairly eventful fall season! 

We retired the hose and the dog’s pool and Greg went about setting out the flax straw over the sewer system and well.  It gets cold here so we need a little more insulation over those pipes if we don’t want things to freeze.  Vivian likes the flax staw as it is fun to jump, or I should say soar over!   Her favorite trick is to grab a stick, run from Greg and Ike and go flying around the house and over the flax fence at full speed!  After a scare a few weeks ago, I was delighted to see her do just that again this week.

We did have a scare three weeks ago.  Vivian had an acute onset of pancreatitis, and was a very weak and sick puppy.   After an emergency trip to the Vet, who by the way is 90 miles away, and several days of hand feeding and forcing fluids she finally perked up.  It was a scary time and if I didn’t know it before, I know it now, this little girl pup has found her way into Greg, Ike and my hearts; it is not just her name, she really has stolen our hearts!  

Her illness interrupted our big fall event;  Vivian and I have been going to Therapy Dog class!  I have been wanting to volunteer at our local Senior Living Center, but needed to get Vivian some training.  Happily my friend Jayne and her pup Chloe also wanted to do this, and Jayne found a class that was being held in Bemidji MN on Thursday night.  The rub is that Bemidji is a 2.5 hour drive from Warroad, but Jayne is a hockey mom and up here two and a half hour drives one way are nothing to the hockey mom set!  So we signed the pups up and headed off every Thursday night to class!  Did I mention earlier that we had a snowstorm on October 4th?  Sure enough the second week of class it was cancelled due to snow, you gotta love Minnesota! 

Cruising to Therapy Dog Class

Vivian was a good student, except during the lecture portion.  During lectures she would vocalize a little bit and I swear, if she could have, she would have been passing Chloe notes!  But all in all the girls did pretty well at class and the dogs did even better!   Unfortunately due to Viv’s illness she missed two classes; but did get back for the last one.  Even missing the classes she passed the class test, although she does need to go back to Bemidji to do her “clinical” the visit to the nursing home. On the last day of class Vivian also had the opportunity to take her AKC Canine Good Citizen test, other wise known as the CGC.  I had very strong doubts about her ability to pass since she had not worked on anything for two weeks while she was recovering.  In addition I had been on a quick trip to Chicago with my Mom so hadn’t even been home the five days before class.  Vivian, poodle that she is, retained her training and did me proud.  She made me work for the down, but hey the floor was concrete I would not have been anxious to lay down on it either!  She passed her test and now has her first AKC title.  She is Degana Vivian’s Stealing Hearts, CGC. 

Up next…adventures in volunteering!  Stay tuned!

Time for School

In my last post I said that summer was all about FUN and this summer was.  So much fun that I haven’t blogged since June!  Well September is here and it is time to get back to it!

A quick summer update.   Vivian, Ike and I enjoyed a few fishing outings with Greg in the new boat.  It is so nice to have more room and wow can that boat go fast!   Ike and I prefer a more sedate boat ride, but Viv is all about the speed and the wind in her ears!

In August my sister brought my Mom to Warroad.  We have determined that if we want rain, we need to invite Nan to visit as of course the one weekend it rained this summer was the weekend she was here!  Same thing happened last year.  Mom stayed for a week and the dogs were in heaven.   The last time Vivian saw Grandma and Aunt Nancy she was three months old, and this time she demonstrated what a good girl she had become.  She discovered that Grandma had no issues with a 45 pound lapdog and took advantage of that quite often!

Later in August Greg, the dogs and I headed over the border to a cabin on the other side of Lake of the Woods for a week.  Canada is the most dog friendly nation!  The pups adjusted well, and enjoyed boating, hanging out on the deck and sleeping on the bottom bunk!   Unfortunately, due to algae issues we were not able to take them swimming, so learning to swim is still on Vivian’s bucket list!

On Peggy’s bucket list was getting Vivian certified as a Therapy Dog.   Not an easy task  for a gal who doesn’t drive and is 2.5 hours away from the nearest training facility!   Lucky for me, my friend Jayne and her pup Chloe were interested in doing this too, so next Thursday we are headed to Bemidji for our first Therapy Dog class!  It is fall and Vivian and Peggy are headed to school!   We are excited, a bit anxious, somewhat nervous but mostly excited….Vivian gets her new “back to school” haircut on Tuesday and we are good to go!   That should provide me with some fun things to blog about…in the meantime we need to work on our down/stay!

Summer Fun

Lots of people have told me that they just love puppies and really miss that time when their dog grows up.  I guess I am not one of those people.   I loved my puppies and I believe that all puppies are cute, but as I look at Vivian and Ike, I don’t long for the days of puppyhood.    Perhaps it is because I can still remember getting up in the night, or cleaning up after I ignored a puppy cry for one minute too long.  I just think adult dogs who can do stuff with you are so much fun.  And this summer we are having fun! 

So far in June Vivian has enjoyed a lot of new adventures.  She has gone fishing a few times, visited the nursing home and walked the bike path.   She enjoys sharing an ice cream cup with Ike and is happy to go for a ride to town, even when it doesn’t involve ice cream or boats.   She still loves playing in the hose as much as she did as a puppy, and last night Greg brought home a new swimming pool for the dog yard, so we will see if she likes that or if it just reminds her of a bathtub.   I am sure as soon as she sees Ike spend some time in it, she will be all about the swimming pool.  Vivian loves her big brother Ike!

 Vivian loves a game of keep away with Greg.  She will grab a stick, he will pretend he wants it and then she flies around the yard at full poodle speed.   There is just something so beautiful about a standard poodle running full on; I am going to have to get the video camera out again and capture it.   The good news is that all that recall we worked on worked, so she always comes back despite how much fun she is having.  

 Of course the big news of June was that Vivian took second place in the Outward Hound  photo contest.  Thanks everybody for voting, I have now retired my pageant mom hat.  I will not be starring in a reality show called “Poodle Moms”  although I know a lot of poodle moms that would make it interesting!   What about a reality show about dog shows ?  I wonder if anyone has run that one up the reality TV flagpole?  This  Real Housewife of Swift would definitely watch that!

Anna July 4, 2000

 Next week is the fourth of July.  Anna had a love hate relationship with the fourth.  She loved walking to the point and seeing all the festivities and the kids who came up and asked “Can I pet your big poodle?” however she hated the fireworks.   Vivian and Ike probably won’t be going to town for the parade if it stays this warm, but they will enjoy having us home midweek and my guess is that there will be a trip to town for a hot dog and ice cream because after all the theme of this summer is FUN!!

Growing up, poodle style

ImageOver the past month, I have really seen Vivian mature.  She turned one and it was as if she decided, “I am a big girl now!”  Oh, do not get me wrong, she has her moments of sheer silliness and continues to aggravate Ike when given the opportunity but signs of maturity are seen on a daily basis.

 Do you remember all those early posts when I talked continually about recall?  Well, we got her there.  She comes when called each and every time now; yesterday when I was playing ball with her Greg pulled into the driveway.   If a poodle’s face can light up, hers did.  “Greg, Ike!! They are home!!” is what she was thinking I am sure as she turned to run toward the pick-up truck.  “Vivian, come!” I called and around she turned running back to me, all the while looking over her shoulder to make sure the truck did not turn around and leave her again!   So it was not the prettiest recall, but she came to me and that is all that mattered.

 It is fun to have a poodle that hangs out with me outside without having to be on a lead.  We do have a fenced area, where the pups go out in the morning or when we are not outside with them.  I am not a big believer in tempting fate and we do have wildlife around here that I do not think they need to tangle with. 

 Another grown up fun thing that Vivian has learned about is fishing.  She went for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was a rock star fishing poodle.  She wore her shocking pink life vest without complaint and was intrigued by the seagulls and other boats.  I was afraid she might try to jump out and walk on water over for a visit, but she stayed in the boat and after a few hours, she lay down and took a nap next to Ike.   She looked so cute in her life vest that I put her in a contest sponsored by the life vest manufacturer, Outward Hound.  Voting continues until Sunday and right now, she is in a three way run for the money with Rocket and Miss Paisley. 

Finally yet importantly, we have a new groomer in town.  Vivian had an appointment on Tuesday and she was so shaggy!  Mary, the groomer did a fabulous job and Vivian, being a typical poodle was very happy with her new do.  She knew she looked good.  I was just pleased that she was so good for Mary!   We are hoping to go visit the nursing home for the first time in the next few days.  You cannot let a great haircut go to waste!

 Exactly a year ago Anna died.  I still mess up sometimes and call Vivian, Anna.  I still miss her and her quirks.   Anna taught me so much and Vivian is a better poodle because of that.  I would have said a “better dog”, but Vivian does not realize she is a dog.  

I love a good book

And one with poodles in it is even better!   Several months ago I wrote about my poodle list, the one I have been a member of since 1997.   It was really my first introduction into “electronic relationships”.  Of course most of you are thinking about online dating, when I say relationship, but I am just referring to crazy poodle people talking to each other via email about poodles.  I am not sure that online dating was around in 1997…it must not have been,  because I was 39, single and lonely in Cleveland Ohio, I surely would have given it a try!  But I digress.

One of the crazy poodle people is a lovely lady named Lynn Franklin and she is a writer.  A real one.  She writes books not just blogs.  Cooler yet, she is a mystery writer!  And she knows all about gemstones!  Books and gemstones, two of my most favorite things in the world.  Did I mention the poodle connection?  She has a standard poodle named Sam and there is a poodle named Rory in her mystery book about a blue diamond!!  

So years ago Lynn told the list she was going to write a book, and she did!  Here it is!   It is a great book and you can download it onto your kindle from Amazon.com.  I think this is so cool, since I have always been a “dream about it” writer,  but never a “do it” writer.  And fiction is totally out of my league.  So congratulations to Lynn and I am hoping she is hard at work on the next one, as I am anxious to read it!

As for my own crazy poodle and her adorable brother Ike?  They are doing well.  Vivian has graduated from being in the crate during the day to getting to hang out with Ike while we are at work.  So far no issues, although Greg had me swear that I would accept all responsibility if something happened.   Knock on the computer keyboard, all has gone well and other than a few toys moving from room to room, I have seen no evidence of mischief while we are away.   I  believe she is enjoying watching the birds while we are at work.

When Ike is waiting for Greg he takes over my chair as it has the best view of the road and driveway.  Somehow Vivian manages to squeeze herself on to the ottoman.  I am not sure she can see much as she is overdue for a trip to the groomer!

Every time I post a picture I think that I really should only take pictures when the house is clean; however if I did that there would be no pictures.  I have priorities, they are Ike, Vivian, Greg and my books.  I do love a good book.

Vivian is turning 1 year old!

Spring has sprung in the north woods and with it the discovery of  BIRDS!!  Yes Vivian is absolutely bonkers over birds!  The robins, seagulls and killdeer’s have taunted her continually for the past month.  I would love to know what is going through her head as she watches them.  This is a favorite perch of hers when watching the seagulls in the field behind our house.

It is hard to believe that Vivian will be one year old on Monday, May 21st.  I think about where I was a year ago, as I watched my beloved Anna decline in health.  In the weeks before she died I tried to convince myself that we would be a one dog family and that I could live without a poodle in my life.  We all know how long that lasted, now don’t we?  

People ask me all the time if Anna and Vivian are alike.  That is a tough question to answer because in many ways they are so alike.  Both standard poodles, both black, both beautiful, both so poodley (which my poodle friends will totally understand and most likely everyone else will say “Poodley?  Huh?”)  But how do I describe the differences? 

Anna, age 15

Anna, was elegance personified.  She pranced when she was on a lead, and was in her element walking through town…she liked to be noticed.  She also was quite verbal.  Probably because she lived with a single woman, and I needed her to be  my “problem solver” at the end of a long day.  We had some good talks, Anna and I, and she was always happy to give an opinion.   Anna did not suffer fools gladly and did not want to be seen as the fool.  Once she got a horrible hair cut and I swear she was embarrassed by it.   Where she usually came out of the groomer prancing and preening, that day she was glum and walked with her head down.  Anna was my heart dog; she gave me reason to quit working so much and start walking and smelling the roses; or in her case the occasional tree trunk and fire hydrant.  With Anna I learned to live happily in places I would have otherwise despised, and was brave enough to move to places that were  far out of my comfort zone.  We were a team of two.

Vivian on the other hand is a clown, an athlete and a lover.  As I wrote many months ago, she has some advantages that Anna did not;  she has Greg, she has Ike and she has acres on which to romp.  Viv can walk on a leash, but doesn’t love it, but give her something to jump over and she is in heaven.  She loves to chase the ball, leap into the air and catch it, thrilled with both the act itself and the applause it always elicits from Greg and me.  She is interested in everything, and fearful of very few things.  She thinks all ottomans were made for her to drape over, or as a stepping stool to the nearest lap.  Vivian is a lap dog when she isn’t being a whirling dervish.  Tails are to catch and someday she will catch hers.  Vivian loves me, but Vivian also loves Greg and Vivian adores Ike.  When Vivian isn’t with the one she loves, she loves the one she’s with.  When Anna wasn’t with the one she loved (me) she threw up. 

Talking to the Seagulls

So as we come up on Vivian’s first birthday, I am so happy that we have her. She didn’t replace Anna, but did fill a hole that Anna left.  A hole that couldn’t have been filled with anything other than a  poodle.  I can’t explain it, I think it might be genetic, I need a poodle in my life.

Vivian at 10 months

Well I blew right past February in the Vivian updates!  So I must reach back to remember all that she has learned and done….

In February we decided that Viv could sleep at night outside of the crate.  I think we possibly started that too early, and while we had no major accidents we did have a few sleepless nights!  In her ongoing attempt to perfectly train Peggy, Vivian would wake up in the night, cry, go to Greg’s side of the bed, cry, get nowhere, go to Peg’s side of the bed, place paws on bed and lay head on top of Peggy, cry and be lifted onto the bed!  Yes, Vivian almost had me perfectly trained when much to her chagrin, I went on vacation with my Mom and left her home to train Greg.   When it comes to allowing puppy on the bed at night he is apparently a tough cookie.  She now comes to Peggy’s side of the bed, places paws and head across Peggy, waits until she realizes that nothing is going to happen and then goes back to her bed.  

Spring is making an early appearance here in the Northwoods, and Vivian loves the warm weather and lack of snow.  Of course at nearly 10 months, she is getting much more adventuresome and is testing her boundaries a bit.  So back to work on recall.  Just about the time I think I have her nailing it, she decides to dig in and ignore me.   She has an uncanny way of knowing when there are treats (cut up hotdogs are her current fave) in the pocket and when there are not and recalls accordingly.    Yesterday we worked on retrieving and had a blast until I threw the rope/ball thingy in the tree.  If you look at past pictures on the blog you will see that throwing it high into a tree in our yard takes some skill as we  only have a couple of trees in the middle of the yard. 

Speaking of spring, Vivian chased her first mouse last week.  She couldn’t catch it, but she did chase it.  It reminded me of a sweet moment with Anna last spring.  Greg had gone to bed and I let the dogs in from their before bed outing.  Both Anna and Ike came running in the house and continued to run through the kitchen and living room,  looping around the family room before I caught Anna.  Anna obviously had something in her mouth and I put my hand down and firmly said “Drop it” at which point she dropped a dead mouse into my hand.  Tail wagging she looked up at me with such joy on her 15-year-old poodle face, while I screamed and Greg yelled from the bedroom “wash your hands before you come to bed!”  

Viv went to the groomer on Saturday and this is the picture of she and Ike on the way home.   Thanks to Kelly of Bark Avenue Grooming in Bemidji for making my Vivian look so pretty!

Vivian at 8 months

I decided I better write a quick blog over lunch today or I will have gone an entire month without documenting life with Vivian!  This has been a big month for Viv.  As I wrote about last month, the decision was made to take Vivian to a groomer in Bemidji, rather than groom her myself.   On January 7th, Greg, Vivian, Ike and I headed off in our new car for the groomer, 2 and a half hours away.  (Suffice it to say, we live way up here for the walleyes, the hockey, the great jobs and the scenery, not because it is convenient!)  

Vivian and Ike spent most of the ride arguing over who got which window seat and who had more room!  Reminds me of trips when we were kids!  At one point Vivian even pulled down the seat divider!  I would like to think that it was her poodle smarts that caused her to do that, but it is more likely that the new leather smell had gotten to her and if not caught she would have chewed on it!  Unfortunately our beautiful weather, perfect roads decided to pick that morning to get icey and to snow!  Nonetheless we journeyed on, as a grooming appointment on a Saturday is not an easy thing to obtain!

Vivian was a little nervous going into the shop,  but soon realized they had treats and other dogs to meet!  Ike had to follow us in to see where Viv was going, but seemed relieved that he didn’t have to stay with her.  A few hours later, and a trunk full of groceries and other assorted items we didn’t realize we needed until we saw them Vivian was groomed!   When I picked her up she was happily chasing a springer spaniel around the shop and didn’t seem to have much time for me.  There was a big standard poodle and her owner in the shop, and I did get questioned about whether or not Ike was fixed.  I assured her that there were no doodles in our future!

Next on Vivian’s January to-do list was getting spayed.  So off we drove to International Falls, about 90 miles southeast of us on Wednesday January 25th.  Did I mention we don’t live here because things are convenient?  We left at early thirty so that she could be dropped off by 8:30 Am.  She and Ike seemed to have found their comfort zone in the backseat, and Vivian pretty much slept the entire way there.  After weighing in at 41 lbs; she walked in back with Dr. Nicholson and I cried.     We were home and back at work by 11 AM!   She rocked the surgery and Dr. Hasbargen brought her in the van back to Warroad the next morning.  Our little conehead was home and Ike was delighted to see her, but quite afraid of the cone.   I realized soon enough that the cone would have to stay on,  just like the doctor said and that keeping her from jumping, leaping, twirling and running was going to be harder than I expected!  Crate training is your friend, really!  It took two hours before it dawned on me to  put her in her crate, as that is where she takes her afternoon nap everyday why wouldn’t I put her in there the day after surgery!  First though I did have to cut the cone down a tad as it was way too long and didn’t fit in the crate!

All in all an eventful month.  The video is of Viv helping Greg shovel a couple of weeks ago.  She might be 41 pounds, but she is still all puppy!  I always say when a puppy comes to our house they have hit the jackpot; but mostly I think we have!