Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our family has grown and it has been a fruitful summer!

I thought that I would start to get bored after quitting work, but God seems to have definitely shown me he is in charge and when one door closes another one opens. Our summer ended on a high note with a lovely trip down to Homer. We stayed at a quaint little cabin with a beautiful view of Mt. Redoubt. I had hoped to see more wildlife than we did, but the best we saw was a couple of moose and some beluga whales on the way back into Anchorage. We get to see those all the time though. Still, I marvel at the beauty of Alaska and how God seems have a hand in every aspect of this beautiful land.

A week after we got back we adopted a new addition to our family. Her name is Sophie and I came across her picture while doing work for Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue. It's a rescue organization that Dan and I have been volunteering for now since last April. It's a wonderful organization that helps dogs and puppies find their forever home. It has been wonderful being part of something I feel like I can finally make a difference in the world. Sophie is a sassy little girl that looks a lot like Macintosh. She is a Lab/Australian Shepherd mix. Mac wasn't sure of her the first couple of days, but now they can hardy stand to be apart. I've started going for morning walks with some ladies from church. It's wonderful being out there in the fresh air (getting a little colder now though) and having some time to visit and fellowship with other Christian women. Sophie loves our walks too and it is nice being able to finally have a dog that will stay right by me and come when called! Dan thinks she is still insecure, I think she is loyal and is showing her appreciation for being given another chance at a good home. Her last home was very loving too, they just couldn't afford to keep her due to rising medical bills of their own. She definitely has some more puppy like behaviors that Mac never really had so we are back in training classes with Theresa. She graduates next week and has done pretty well.

Heavenly Father must have been laughing at the time he decided to bring Sophie into our lives as we were already planning to get a Welsch Pembroke Corgi from Daniel's sister who breeds adn raises them. I had hoped to get it for Dan's birthday in July and surprise him with it, but we had to wait a bit longer. Well in the process of Dan coordinating things with his sister is when Sophie came across the radar. She just looks so much like Mac (Dan will disagree with me on that statement, but she really does). Well after having Sophie for just over a month, the arrangements have been made for "Corgi Day". I'm not sure how ready for three dogs I am and I am worried that Dan's dog will still become "my" dog. Next week we'll find out I guess!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July weekend 2009

This past weekend was the 4th of July. Since the whole family had Friday off and Thursday was my last day at work any way, we decided to drive up to Denali National Park. We headed out Friday morning after getting everything and everyone, including Mac situated in mom and dad's Expedition. Our first stop was right as we were leaving Wasilla. It is really the last good place to stop and potty before the long 4 hour or so drive. I say "or so" because if you are me and want to take lots of stops for pictures then it can take a bit longer. We continued driving until we got to Cantwell which is another two hours from Wasilla. Macintosh did such a good job the whole trip. He of course was very excited every time we stopped because he couldn't wait to get out and stretch is long legs and take a much needed potty break of his own. He did very well though in the car and never once got car sick or misbehaved at all. Nana says she is very proud of her grand doggie! By the time we stopped in Cantwell we were all ready for lunch and decided to try some of the homemade BBQ that they were making. There really is only about two places to stop there in Canwell and about the last place to stop before hitting Denali and Fairbanks. The BBQ was very delicious as were the onion rings that Dan and I had with our sandwiches.

The hotel that mom had gotten for us to all stay in was only about another half an hour up the road. Before we hit the hotel though we stopped at the new veteran's memorial in Denali. They have erected five monuments, each one dedicated to the different branches of the military. Dan stood in front of the Navy and Air Force one to represent his dad and brothers who have all served and then mom and I stood in front of the one dedicated to the Marine Corps in honor of Mike and Howard and Uncle Alan and all the rest of our Marine friends and families that we've come to know and love. I should have taken Dad's picture in front of the one for the Army, but I forgot. I think mom got a picture of it though. It's a beautiful tribute to our men and women who have given their lives to serve and protect our country and it put real meaning to this holiday weekend we were celebrating.

We arrived at the Grizzly Bear Resort about a half an hour later. It is a newer hotel that the owners had decided to add on to their campgrounds and cabins they already had on site. At first I was a bit worried about what their idea of handicapped accessible was going to be like while we waited for mom to check in, however once we got to the room we were pleasantly surprised! I wish I would have gotten a picture of the whole inside of the room so you could see just how nice it was! Each room has a balcony attached to it and all the rooms are built to look like log cabins with very nice cedar wood. Dan and I's room was huge. It had to be the biggest handicap hotel room I've ever seen. The bathroom was also very nicely contructed. Mac was very happy to be out of the vehicle and finally ate and drank something substantial. He didn't eat that much or hardly drink the whole way to the hotel.

We rested a bit before heading to dinner. We decided to go to the Alaskan Nite dinner theater show. The actors were very talented and the food was very good. They served everything family style too. Each table could fit around 10 people and since there were just the four of us we got to meet two other families. One couple was from California and the other family was statioined here in Alaska at Ft. Richardson in Eagle River/Anchorage. He had served in Iraq and we thanked him for serving and protecting our country. They served ribs and salmon and corn and baked beans for dinner and then blueberry cobbler for dessert. After dinner is when the show started. I had taken Mac in with us since I didn't want to leave him in the room or car. He did so good throghout the whole show. I was worried he might start barking when the show started, but he didn't. Even when they turned out the lights for part of the show and did some gunfire type noises, he just stayed right by my side. It was pretty late when we got back to the hotel so we tried to get right to bed. The Alaskan sun combined with the fairly hard mattresses made it difficult to sleep. We all woke up pretty sore the next morning. Oh, I almost forgt to mention Dan and Mac's run in with some wildlife. After we got back to the hotel from dinner, Dan took Mac for a quick walk and bathroom break. He came back in fairly soon afterwards which I thought was strange until I noticed he was limping and that the leash was broken. Apparently two squirrels decided to run across the path right where Mac and Dan were walking. Before he knew what was happenng, Mac had broken free of his leash and had ran after the squirrels and cornered them in a tree. Dan climbed down to get to him when Mac went the other way and was higher up than he was apparently. Mac managed to help his daddy out and back to the room. Dan was limping a bit but otherwise was okay. Squirrel-1 Mac-0.

The next day we got up and had breakfast at Subway (quite tasty if you haven't tried their breakfast sandwiches yet). Then we watched the rafters get started on the river and took more pictures of the mountains...yes, I took tons of pictures and plan on scrapping all of them! Then it was off to Denali National Park for the 14 mile drive into the park. You can only drive your personal vehicle the first 14 miles into the park. There is a visitor's center there that we stopped at for lunch and did some touring of the center to learn more about Denali. Mac did pretty well in there until he saw a stuffed wolf with a bone in it's mouth and started to bark! That was it for Dan and I as far as the visitor's center. We waited outside for mom and dad. This is where round two came in with the squirrel. Now mind you, I doubt it was the same squirrel from the night before, but this one was definitely looking to pick a fight. He came around at least three different times trying to antogonize Mac. This proved though to be good training for Mac to work on his submission toward prey so he doesn't go chase after things! I would say that this one ended in a tie overall! We had a very nice lunch on the patio at the cafe there and then packed up to start the drive home.

The drive home seemed to go much faster then up, probably because we made less stops. We arrived home around 8 p.m. just in time to see some fireworks on t.v. since it is still daylight outside until 1 or 2 in the morning it is very hard to see fireworks so I just watched the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on t.v.

Yesterday we all rested up from our trip. I did want to catch the last hour or so of the Girdwood Forest Festival just to say that I had been at least once. It was rather interesting! I'm glad we went to Denali instead of hanging out at Alyeska all wekeend! It definitely is for those wanting to relive Woodstock! Well, at least now I can say that I've been to such an event and made fun of a bunch of hippies!

All in all it was a great weekend and tomorrow I get to relax some and enjoy my first day out of work....yay!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's 2 A.M and I'm still awake

It's 2 a.m. in the morning and I once again can't sleep. Why you might ask? Well it all started about a week ago. Last Sunday I woke up at about 6 in the morning with the beginnings of what I thought was a cold-scratchy sore throat. I spent all day in bed trying my best to feel better with no such luck. I still went to work for most of the week. They were giving me a farewell lunch on Wednesday so I was trying my best to stay well for that. By Wednesday afternoon however I was feeling worse than ever yet thought maybe I was also getting over my symptoms. The congestion seemed like it was going away and the sinus drainage had started. By Thursday morning I woke up feeling like I had gotten hit by a Mac truck (not the dog mind you, literally a Mac Truck!) I stayed home reluctantly since I had started running a fever. I went to the doctor on Friday and she said it had turned into Bronchitis. I came home, fell right into bed and wanted to die! I took the cough medicine she had prescribed, but the codeine seemed to only keep me awake longer than I wanted and I finally fell asleep around 1 a.m. last night.

That brings me to today. I spent all day in bed while my loving husband did as much as he could to clean the house before Delaney and Leslie arrive on Monday. I decided to take a bigger dose of the cough medicine around 1 p.m. and it decided to really set in around 4 p.m. not really good timing since Dan was just getting back from the store getting dropping Mac off at the groomer's, getting Father's day stuff for dad tomorrow and more juice for me. It was at this time he decided to fix the closet door frame...thanks honey! So while I tried to sleep then and get over the heaviness left from the codeine, it never happened. I did however take some Excedrin which seemed to help tremendously. It helped so well that most of my symptoms seemed to start disappearing around 8 p.m. That should be a good thing except now I am wide awake and for the second night in a row unable to sleep. Macintosh is trying to sleep right next to me as well but also seems restless. His breathing seems a bit odd since he came home from the salon (he went to get a good bath and summer haircut today). He seems to be settling down now though and hopefully whatever was in his nose or throat making him breathe funny is now gone. My cough seems to be coming back though. I am going to take some cough medicine again and hopefully it's the right dose to send me off to dreamland rather than keeping me awake much longer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time to check in

I've been so busy over the last three months that I have completely forgotten about updating our blog! I really need to try harder to keep this updated as so much has happened lately and will be happening over the next 6 months or so that I want to keep everyone posted on how we are doing.

We visited our Utah relatives back in late February since I needed to have a check-up with Dr. Schmidt at the same time. We also took this opportunity to fly with Mac for the first time. We decided to book a nonstop flight at night in hopes that this would be a better time for him to fly. He did magnificent going through airport security and even stood still while I had to be scanned by the TSA person. We had about an hour before our flight which gave me some time to see how he would do in the terminal. He did fairly well. There was a baby that was close by with her mom and other family members that kept wanting to come over to pet Mac and he handled her crying and all rather well. We boarded first and got settled. Mac fit perfectly in the bulkhead area just in front of our feet. He dropped off to sleep even while everyone was loading and wasn't bothered by them at all. I guess I must have dozed off as well because the next thing I remember was waking up and it was nearly halfway through the flight. Mac had panicked a bit during take-off and Daniel was trying to console him and keep him calm. His poor little puppy heart rate was through the roof! He finally calmed down a bit and decided that he would take treats which was good because it helped keep him occupied for the remainder of the flight. The return flight went better as we got some medicine for him to take beforehand, although he was still quite anxious during the flight. I am really hoping that the next time we fly he will be more used to the turbelence.

We enjoyed seeing everyone for the two weeks that we were there. The best part of the trip was having Mac with me. For the first time, we really had a chance to bond to one another. The hotel we stayed at was in the Sugar House district. Everything there is within walking distance of the hotel. Mac and I took walks to the park or to Petco nearly every morning. It was so nice to not have to worry about work or anything else. Dan usually accompanied us, but I did actually like the times I got to go by myself and just be with my puppy! We also had the opportunity to take some training sessions with Gateway for Canine Partnerships while we were there. We even made the news! That's a whole other story though that is too long to post here. The trainer we worked with is wonderful. While we were there they tested Mac on his Canine Good Citizenship test and he passed with flying colors! Lord only knows how because an hour later in the car he definitely was not acting like the same dog! Some days I do think he is bi-polar, LOL!

We went to the Gateway several times with Mac and I even went one time with my brothers for a shopping spree courtesy of Mike and Howard. I felt very lucky to have such wonderful brothers that waited on me hand and foot while in Coldwater Creek, which by the way is my new favorite store.

I didn't want our trip to end. It was so nice being there for almost two weeks and not really having anything that we absolutely had to do. The only thing we had to take care of was having a spinal tap done at the hospital. I can honestly say that I will never again have this done in my life! It was very painful and really didn't offer any insight to Dr. Schmidt as to why my legs still feel weak and why I can't seem to regain much more strength back than what I have. That being said, I'm glad we got to spend so much time with family and friends and just relax. I think I finally have Dan talked into moving to Utah because we both like the Sugar House area so much and it is really close to the hospital.

We got back and I immediately started work on paperwork needed to get Mac to be able to come with me to work. He has now been an official working dog for a month and a half. He picked up so many new skills while in Utah that I wanted to keep up his training as much as possible. He is with me nearly every day now. Everyone loves him at work and has the hardest time resisting their urge to pet him. He now has 100% profiecency in operating the push buttons for opening doors. That task really only took about a week for him to start learning consistently and as of todday he can and does do it for the most part without treats. He comes to work with me 3 days a week, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and by Thursdays he is pretty worn out and it can be a bit harder to get him to do things. I'm so impressed though at what all he has learned. He now retrieves pretty much anything I ask him to pick up and get. He recently learned "keys" and knows to pick those up when I drop them. Today I taught him to help me take the sheets off the bed. This task will prove to be most useful among all the household tasks that I am teaching him. I now affectionately call him my "Saturday helper" because if he is really hungry then he'll do anything I ask just so he gets food. It is very cute to watch to see what he will pick up next and hand to me. He handed me a bottle of Frebeze last Saturday. He earned a big reward for that given how heavy it is. I am also teaching him how to carry things, especially the important items such as my Dr. Pepper bottle that I purchase on my breaks from the cafe and also his water dish. He now has carried that twice all the way to the fountain. Everyone loves watching him at work too.

Dan and I just had our fence built. Well, as of the date of this posting it isn't quite done even though I was assured by the contractor that it would be done by today. I'm hopeful that it will be done by tomorrow. We are trying to do as many household projects as we can to get the house ready to sell when we are ready to move. We still are unsure as to exactly when we are moving, but it will be within the next 6 months to a year is my hope.

Pixel is doing fine as well. She just had her first medical procedure done. She needed to have her teeth cleaned. She is still recovering a bit from the anesthia and where they had to shave her arm to put in the I.V. she looks a bit funny right now.

We are hoping to get out as much as possible this summer and hopefully have some visitors this summer. Anyone who wants to come to visit is more than welcome especially since this may be our last summer here!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mac's big Saturday out

Okay, okay so I know I brag all the time about Mac, but today was such a great day I just had to share.

We started the day off at the vet to get his pre-flight checkup and make sure we had everything in line for the flight. He did so amazingly well this time at the vet. He is usually good at the vet, but of course has always been a bit rowdy going in and has had a hard time just relaxing especially if other dogs are in the waiting room. Now that he has his official vest though he just radiated with obedience for the most part in the waiting room. Everyone commented on how well behaved he is for his age. It made me feel good knowing that I've been doing well with his training despite still having to work (hopefully that won't be the case soon!). It's a good thing we went to the vet after our morning training session anyways. Someone (I won't say who..cough, cough *hubby*) left the hot dogs on the counter. Well I was distracted on the computer and Mac was in the living room I thought chewing on a chewbone....nope, he was downing 8 hot dogs! So needless to say he has had a bit of a tummy ache today too! The vet said he will be okay.

Then we went to Costco for a quick trip. Things went great at Costco. We came home for lunch and a bit of a break. Then we needed to go get my husband's haircut so we took him there too. When we first came in there were two little kids there with their mom and of course the first thing the little girl asked was if she could pet Mac. I told her that he was working right now but maybe in a few minutes. Her mom also tried to rein them both in. When we checked in for the haircut Mac was very good to the receptionist who of course thought Mac was very cute. I got him to do an "up" command and practice that for when he is ready to start handing things to cashiers and that went well. We went and sat down and I thought maybe having the kids come over would be a good idea to help socialize him to kids more. He really likes kids plus I was wanting to practice with some distractions. It went pretty well. The kids were a bit bratty. The little boy about drove me nuts! So I don't think I'll do that again. Mac did great though. He did a very good down, did some good eye contact with me when I did "watch me" and then actually fell asleep for a bit. I'm surprised he was able to with that kid being so talkative and walking back and forth. The one thing he did there and at Costco though was more of what I would call a neat sprawl. He was pretty close to the chair laying down, but definitely not in like a curled position. I worry still that his tail or paws are going to get stepped on. He curls up here at the house when he is really tired and I've been trying to reward that behavior, but I don't think he gets it as he is half asleep when I tell him good curl.

After the haircut we took Mac to a small field for some play time so he could run around and get some exercise. Then we went to the airport. Mac did very well. He had a slight bit of hesitation going in because stupid me forgot about the main thing you see at the Anchorage airport at the Delta terminal....a BIG STUFFED POLAR in the real kind! It's in this big glass case. It's like 9 feet tall, bearing teeth and kinda scary for just a regular person! Mac didn't bark, but you could definitely sense his stress level going a bit higher. So we side tracked that area for a few minutes, toured the rest of the terminal and got his stress level back down. He never barked once while there so that was a good sign. He was also very interested in the escalator so I did some sit/stay commands there to get him comfortable with that and then took him into the bathroom with me because I've not yet taken him into a public restroom. I figured he wouldn't like it because he doesn't really care for the bathroom at home as far as laying on the floor. It went okay after coming and going a few times. He was a bit unsure about being in the stall with me and doing a sit or down. I think he'll get used to it soon enough. Then we went and circled and got used to the polar bear and he was much better. He also did a very good under when my husband sat in one of the waiting chairs in the area. He got under the seat that they have there in the terminal areas so I think that's a good sign if we can get him to do that while waiting to get on the plane. I think going out there one or two more times and he'll be all ready for the airport. Luckily when we went tonight it wasn't busy at all. There weren't any flights coming in at all so it was nice and quiet. We'll go back tomorrow night when it is a bit busier to see how he handles it when it is more crowded. Monday we are doing our bus training and potentially going to the courthouse to see how he handles going through security. My brother is a TSA trainer and said that they are only suppose to do a visual inspection of the dog unless they have longer hair and then they get searched closer from what I understand from Mike's email.

I was just planning on us being there for a few minutes or so, but since it was fairly quiet and he wasn't really distracted we went with as much as he tolerated and then called it a night. The vet did say he wouldn't recommend any kind of tranquilizers or anything like that and that most dogs of his breed do very well on planes. I am wondering though if it would be okay to give him his allergy medicine? It makes him a bit drowsy so I thought maybe it might help him sleep on the flight? It does make him pretty thirsty and since I don't want him to need to drink that much during the flight I am thinking of just waiting till after the flight. I'm really excited now for the trip and I actually think he is going to do very well!