Saturday, September 10, 2011

The End

Cooper has been removed from his program.  He will no longer be in training as my service dog.  Cooper is being placed with another family.

I want to thank everyone for going with me on this (short) journey and giving me your help and support. 

I will not be updating here as I continue my search for the right dog.  If you would like to follow that journey please privet message me for a link to my new journal.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cooper's Breed Mix, Fundraising and TV Interview.

This has been a very busy week so far!  I've been making more plans to return to PAD in PA to continue team training with Cooper.  I am hoping to get down there on Monday, so I've been working hard to raise the funds I need for the trip.

I'm selling a few things on e-bay, it's just a few things I had around the house, check out my store azevwing. I'm also trying to spread the word as best I can.

Okay now that I'm done with the boring part, on to Cooper!  All service dog pups need to have many experiences in the wider world where they have a chance to acclimate to strange events and the general craziness that happens around us strange humans.  So to that end Cooper was offered an amazing opportunity to be a model for an advertisement.  I heard that he did remarkably well and that everyone was in love with him.  I really can't blame them he's quite the handsome fellow.  Here's a picture of him relaxing in between photo shoots.

I've been asked a few times what Cooper's breed mix might be.  Well his mother was a mixed breed herself and she's not telling.  Phoenix Assistance Dogs will sometimes do a Wisdom Panel Test with their dogs in order to identify certain breeds that may have genetic disorders that can be screened for.  While not exact, this test can identify key breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Australian Shepherds that carry diseases that may not be apparent until the dog is an adult.  There are genetic tests that can be run to identify dogs that are at risk. PAD believes in ensuring that all their dogs are as healthy as they can be.

The results are in.  Cooper is 25% Golden Retriever, 25% Shar-Pei, 14.80% Clumber Spaniel, 9.87% Redbone Coonhound, 9.80% Labrador Retriever, 7.40% Beagle and 2.19% Harrier.

Clockwise from top left, Redbone Coonhound, Golden Retriever, Cooper, Shar-Pei, Beagle, Harrier, Black Lab, Clumber Spaniel

Wow that's a lot of dogs!  So I guess that means that Cooper is a mutt, but that's okay because mutts are the best dogs :-D just ask Gypsy!

In other news, I went on TV again.  This time it was on a local TV channel.  My friend Liz, who founded Please Don't Pet Me set it up and asked me to join her with Gypsy. Here's a pre-view of the show.  The show should be online in about a week or so, I'll be sure to let you all know when it airs!  BTW I'm the one with the colorful dog at my feet.

I believe very strongly in education and awareness.  I hope to help others create a better understanding of disabled people and the service dogs that help us.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our First PAD Team Training Session

For the past three days Gypsy and I have been at PAD in PA visiting with Cooper.  He's an awesome pup and we seemed to mesh really well.

It's a bit of a drive for me so when we arrived I settled into my room and took a nap. Gypsy waited impatiently for a chance to go meet the other dogs.

Once we had a chance to rest I got a chance to meet Cooper.  He's such a sweet heart snuggley boy.  He loves to play with the other pups.  I had the opportunity to have him come down and sleep with me and Gypsy.  Gypsy likes him about as well as she likes any puppy.  So far he seems to respect her when she tells him to leave her alone, though he loves it when she is in a playful mood and wrestles with him.

Most of what we did for this session of team training was bonding.  Because Cooper is still a pup he needs to do many different things and go many different places.  Cooper loves water, but has never been swimming, so we went to the lake to play.

Of course we also did some lessons together.  Cooper and I worked on his target training and 'leave it', both very important skills for any service dog to have. 

I was very sad to have to leave, but Cooper still needs time to grow and learn before he's ready to come home with me.  Hopefully, with your help and the help of others I will be able to return again soon and continue to work with PAD and Cooper. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

I've not only been raising funds for Phoenix Assistance Dogs, I've also been collecting things to donate.  Here is a list of some of the things I'll be bringing to PAD on Wednesday. (that's only two days away!!!!!)

medium airline crate
medium/large folding pop-up canvas crate
miscellaneous busy toys (food dispensing toys)
two cold weather dog jackets (large, medium)
large easy walk harness
ruff wear palisades pack size small (21"-30" girth)
dog life preserver size medium

PAD is always in need of gently used items and new items,  Check out their wish list at PAD's Wishlist.

In other (more fun) news, Cooper had a wonderful outing this past weekend.  He attended a farmer's market with one of his trainers and got to hang out with a few working service dogs and interact with the public.  I hear that he is doing great with his polite greetings and practicing age appropriate down stays!

And now a rather long video of one of Cooper's vet visits.  See how well behaved and calm he is?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Who doesn't love a random picture of Cooper.
 Our first Team Training is fast approaching!  By this time next week I'll be packing Gypsy and my things up and getting ready to drive out.  I'm told that Cooper is making great progress in his current lessons.  I can't wait to meet him and I hope he likes me.

I'm posting a widget for a Chip-In I started for travel fees.  Please spread the word!  I promise plenty of new pictures and videos.

And now, for some fun!  A short video of Cooper playing with a few other PAD puppies.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Making Plans for Team Training

This has been a great week for us!  We've had $75 donated, which is half of what I need to go do my first session of team training.  We have decided that Gypsy and I will travel to PA to do Team Training on June 8th, and we will be there until the 10th. 

Cooper has continued with learning many puppy basics, like sit, down, lap up and wait.  He is also learning to work with all sorts of equipment, like vests, collars, leashes, harnesses, and head gear.

Cooper is also learning about living in a house and hanging out with other dogs.  So far I hear that he is friends with everyone and is learning to respect the limits of the other dogs in his house.

Gypsy and I attended a fund-raising event this weekend for NAMI called NAMI-Walks in Hartford, CT.  We had a great time walking with members of Please Don't Pet Me.  Today Gypsy is a bit sore, but I plan to stay home for the next two days so she can rest.

I've also registered for classes next year.  I've been accepted as a transfer student at Southern Connecticut State University and plan to study for two degrees, one is Elementary Education and one in Mathematics.  Two to three years from now, if all goes well, I will start working on a Masters Degree so that I can teach at the high school level.

I want to send a big thank you to everyone out there who has been so wonderful to support us in every way!  Please spread the word!
And just for fun, a video of Cooper playing in the pool.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Story to Date

I am a 30 year old college student.  I am disabled and I use a service dog to help me in my day to day life.  With the support of my doctors and my service dog Gypsy I am back in school and well on my way to a degree.  I have about two years left before I have an undergraduate degree.  I hope to become a math teacher.

Gypsy has been a life saver and partner for me for five years.  Without her I doubt I would have gotten this far.  Gypsy is now seven years old and her vet tells me that she will need to retire soon.  She has problems with arthritis in both knees.  We've scaled back most of her work and she does water therapy once a week and gets a massage three times a week.

Because Gypsy needs to retire, I need to get a new service dog so that I can continue at college.  To that end I contacted Phoenix Assistance Dogs of Central PA.  They have preliminarily matched me with Cooper, one of the pups they have in training.  I will need to make a number of trips from here in CT to central PA to do team training with Cooper as he grows, and to make sure it is the right fit between us.

It will cost between $150 to $250 for each trip to PAD.  I would also like to help PAD raise money, not only for the training of Cooper, but also for the other teams they have in their program.  My goal for fund raising is $5,000.  It sounds like a lot, but I know that with your help, and the help of my community I will be able to meet that goal.

It costs between $10,000 and $30,000 for each service dog to be raised and trained to help a disabled person.  PAD does not charge for their service dogs but they cannot continue the work they do without help from people like you.

All donations should be made directly to Phoenix Assistance Dogs at:
Phoenix Assistance Dogs of Central PA
547 Wood View Drive
Lititz PA 17543

Please include the information that the donation is for Laura and Cooper so that we can track how much we have raised.

PAD's wish list can also be found here:

All pictures and videos of Cooper are courtesy of Phoenix Assistance Dogs.
All pictures of Gypsy are taken by myself unless otherwise noted.