Sunday, May 25, 2008

Service Dogs-In-Training

First off, thank you to all of you who have followed us on this journey. This blog has not only had visitors from 33 states within the US, but also visitors from Canada, UK, Brazil, Iceland, Columbia, Australia, Spain, Japan, South Africa, Ireland and Germany. Truly amazing.

Four of Tiga's puppies are now officially Helping Paws service dogs-in-training. The Peanut was chosen to be a potential breeding dog and placed with a caretaker home. She will go through the same training as the other four and eventually be used for public education. When she is two years old she will have her hips, elbows, eyes and heart checked and if everything looks good she will become a Helping Paws breeding dog.

The other four puppies were placed with their volunteer foster homes. Foster homes are very special people who take these puppies into their homes and hearts, work with them daily, attend weekly training classes, socialize and train them in public and of course, love them. They will teach them approximately 80 skills, including retrieving, turning on and off light switches, opening doors, snuggle and getting help. After two to three years the foster homes will give these well trained, wonderful dogs to an individual with a physical disability, other than sight or hearing.

At the end of the training, a Helping Paws dog is valued at $15,000. The people who receive them pay only a $50 application fee and an equipment fee of around $200. This is made possible through the generous donations of individuals, corporations, foundations and grants. If you would like to follow these puppies' progress as they develop into life changing gifts, please consider sponsoring one of them through the Helping Paws Blue Coat Benefactor program. For more information on how you can help, please visit the Helping Paws website, or email me at

Things at our house are now pretty much back to normal. I am able to sleep later than 5:30. My dining room is now usable again and no longer contains a urine trap. Our deck is no longer boarded up and has been power scrubbed to remove any remaining evidence of five puppies. Charlie has his Tiga back and they are playing and wrestling again and never far apart. And last, but not least, Tori has found something new to obsess about. There is a bird's nest under the deck that now occupies her time.

It is nice to not have our lives consumed with puppies but I do miss them. It is a little strange to think that Tiga is no longer a Helping Paws breeding dog. As one of the foster homes pointed out to me, she has lived up to her name. Tiga in Indonesian means three and she has provided Helping Paws with three wonderful litters. She is now retired and will live out the rest of her days as my much loved buddy. I can't thank Helping Paws and Tiga enough for giving us this experience.

Our Last Day Together

No poop in the puppy pen! That is what I was greeted with on our last morning together, five smiling little faces and NO POOP! That makes it even harder to day good bye to them.

We had breakfast on the deck and played and played. Later the bathing crew showed up and we fluffed and buffed them so they would be all ready for their new foster homes. They all tolerated the bath really well but didn't like the dryer too much. Thanks to Brenda (the person, not the puppy), Catherine and Melanie for helping.

After lunch I spent some time in the yard with them. I really wanted to get a few last photos of each of them. They haven't been on grass too much and it was so fun to watch them discover the yard. I was amazed at how independent they all were, going off on their own and exploring everything. Fatty Patty hit the ground running and never stopped as you can see from her pictures. It was the perfect way to spend our last day together.

The Peanut

Fatty Patty


The Boys


Notorious B.I.G

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Three More Days

Just three more days left with these guys. This morning I put them on the deck and sat down with them. All five were all over me giving me kisses, biting me and pushing each other around trying to get to the best position, which apparently is closest to my face. It was before 6:00 and I was really tired, but I still thought, "Boy, I am really going to miss them." I think their leaving will be a little harder for me this time around as this is the last litter for Tiga. There won't be another litter for me to look forward to next year. Having a litter of puppies has been a life long dream of mine and I can't thank Helping Paws enough for giving me this opportunity. All three litters with Tiga have been wonderful experiences for me and my family. How could you not love having these adorable faces greeting you every morning, no matter what time it is!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Going Home Day for the Labs

Last Friday was going home day for Peaches' puppies.

Steve, the caretaker home for Peaches and her puppies, arrived at the Helping Paws training center with seven adorable Labrador Retriever puppies. Seven foster families were there, anxiously waiting to meet their new puppy.

Seven more puppies are now Helping Paws service dogs-in-training and have started their journey to one day being a life changing gift for someone. I love going home day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I can't believe it is only five more days until the puppies go to their foster homes. We have a busy week ahead of us. Today we are going to the vet for a check up, their first shots and microchips. Thursday we will go to Helping Paws for puppy testing. This will help Eileen determine which puppy goes to which foster home and which female will be kept for the breeding program. Then Friday is the big day. We will fluff and buff the puppies in the morning and then take them to Helping Paws where they will meet their new families. This litter has been so easy and so fun that I am a little sad about their upcoming departure. I will miss being greeted in the morning by their cute little faces and puppy kisses. It will be nice to sleep past 5:30 though. I hope all of the foster homes are resting up.


B.I.G. and McHenry


The Peanut

Tiga has really started playing with her puppies this last week. She runs around the deck with them and swats them around. The deck furniture is her safe zone where she can escape the puppies so they can't nurse or get their toys away from her.

Eventually she will give up the toy and share.

But before too long she will take it back - just to let them know who is really in charge.