A Typical Therapy Dog Visit for Vivian

Vivian May 2It looks like once again I took a “blog break” for a few months.  I wish I could say it is because winter has “flown” by, but in Minnesota we are still waiting for winter to leave and it is taking its own sweet time.  Vivian and I spent our winter volunteering on most weekends at the Warroad Senior Living Center.  Vivian has gathered quite a few resident fans, and seems to make more with each visit.  When we originally started visiting we would go at 1 PM on Saturdays, but found many of the people who asked for her to visit them were sleeping; so we asked if we could come in the morning.   Now we go about 10 AM and stay an hour or so; any more than that and Vivian gets a little antsy, and very warm.

A typical visit will find Vivian and me heading to the “Angle wing” (each wing is named after a local area) and visiting with my friend Belle’s mom, and then Mr. P.   Mr. P likes to pretend he is a grumpy old guy, but Vivian can usually get a smile out him and when we  leave he always says “Come back soon, bring the dog”.   After another quick pet from Ilene, we head to Birch.

As soon as we cross over to Birch Vivian perks right up; she does love the ladies of Birch!  Our first visit with Mrs. R starts theVivian May 3 same way every week “Vivian, I am so glad to see you!  And what is your name Dear?”   We visit a while, Vivian gets plenty of petting and then we sign the guest book as “Vivian and her Person Peggy”.  Next we head across the hall to see Ms. B.

Ms. B doesn’t talk, but she laughs and loves it when Vivian licks her fingers.  Viv will put her head in Ms. B’s lap and with frozen fingers Ms. B will push her hand through a poodle top knot.   Then Vivian makes a play for the tennis balls on the bottom of the walker, I say “leave it”, Ms. B laughs and off we go!

Next is the common area and Vivian’s coffee club.  Usually there are two to four ladies having coffee and Vivian makes the rounds from one to the other for petting and adoration.  This group is very talkative and we enjoy visiting about all sorts of things; but especially Vivian.  They want to know if she is full-grown?  Does her hair grow fast? Do you cut her hair? How much does it cost to cut her hair?  Last week my favorite question was, “Would you ever consider polishing her toenails?”   After a chorus of goodbyes, and one “I love you Vivian!”  we head to assisted living.

Once in assisted living we stop to visit with the men’s version of Vivian’s coffee club.  Carl barks at Vivian; Vivian wags her tail and I say, as I do every Saturday “One of these days she is going to bark back and you will be so scared!”   We laugh, Carl gives us another “woof” and we head to our last visit of the day, Richard’s room.

Heading down the hall, Vivian picks up speed and if I didn’t make her heal, she would go at full speed into Richard’s room at the end of the hall.  Once at the door he opens his arms, I let go of Viv’s leash and she flies over to him, to get a back rub!   I sit on the couch, Vivian lays at Richard’s feet and we spend some time talking about “stuff”.  Sometimes it is about birds, or canoe trips, and this week it was German Shepherd’s and why they don’t look like they use to.   I might have to look up GSD’s and see how they have changed over the years because Richard knows a lot about the breed and my knowledge is based on one I knew when I was 8 Vivian Maynamed Shane.

As we leave Richard’s we pass by the café and say hello to the assisted living ladies who are coming down for lunch.  A hug from the mail carrier, for Vivian not Peggy, and we are back in the car headed home.  So that is a typical visit from Vivian and her person “What’s-her-name”!

Moving into spring…someday

Winter is flying by and at Puppyjackpot we are anxiously awaiting spring.  We live in “Too Crazy Far North”, and understand that a snowstorm is bound to happen again before we really see the end of winter, but in the meantime we are enjoying sunshine and temps in the 30’s.    Vivian and Ike are each approaching another birthday, Ike will be five on April 4th and Viv will be 2 on May 21st.   It is fun to watch them mature and learn new things.  Ike is the solid old boy of the house and he likes to be wherever his Dad is.  Vivian still has her puppy moments, but I do see some maturation in her.   I say this just a week after she took the socks I bought for my sister off the kitchen table and gave them the Vivian touch by chewing on them.  Luckily my sister is a veterinarian and found pre-chewed socks sweet!vivian running

Getting big dogs exercise when the temps are cold and the snow is high is tough.  Greg snow-blowed a trail around the house and Vivian and Ike like to walk it or in Viv’s case run it, every night.   Sometimes I go out with them and stand on one end of the trail with Vivian while Greg stands on the other end with Ike and then Vivian races between us, looping around me on her way back to Ike.  Ike being the more mature and all Golden Retriever that he is, hangs down on the other end with Greg and watches crazy legs run.   Ike snow smile

Our therapy dog visits continue and it has been really fun for everyone.  Vivian goes crazy when her therapy dog bag comes out of the closet and happily trots into the nursing facility every Saturday morning.   She has her regulars that she visits, but also meets new folks every week.  She sent valentine cards to her residents and it was fun to see them displayed in their rooms the next time we visited.viv snow face

As I look forward to spring and green grass I am researching jumps and weave poles so that I can set up a bit of a course for Vivian to run in our yard.  Along with that we daydream of the day monkey comes out to play again!

With April came the return of MONKEY GAMES!!

With April came the return of MONKEY GAMES!!

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.