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Yellow Wattle and Mimosas

Pink Mimosa my favorite wattle from childhood.

Pink Mimosa my favorite wattle from childhood.

Australian yellow wattle Adam's favorite wattle

Australian yellow wattle Adam’s favorite wattle

It never ceases to amaze me how much Adam and I have in common even though we grew up in different hemispheres. When I grew up in Louisiana, the pink mimosa were always blooming around late May to June right around the time my birthday came along and even until Judy’s birthday which is July 8. Now the pink mimosa that I see around Australia are blooming in late spring to early summer which would be November until January. When I saw the mimosa blooming towards the back of the house we bought in Werrington back in 2005 I knew it was a sign for me. If you are new to following my blog, you will find out that I am a believer of signs.

When I first came to Australia, I asked Adam which scent did he love the most. He told me the yellow wattle which is pictured above. I love the yellow wattle as well. It blooms from June until around August. I always saw it blooming everywhere we went during my first visit to this land I now call home. It tickles me that we both have affection for the wattle. They are related even though it might be somewhat distant and bloom around the time of my birthday even if it’s in different hemispheres. It always brings a smile to my dial when I think of the mimosa and the yellow wattle.

The wonder and beauty of nature always astounds me. If I can draw or see a connection, I will be the first to admit it. Perhaps it’s the hopeless romantic in me. There is no shame in admission. Do you have any connections that you make that you take as signs? If so, please share!

Empowerment Through A Little Thing

To say I am floating on cloud 9 is a bit of an understatement. I really can’t go into a lot of details about this but I am really pleased with something that I got to experience with Adam, Lenny, and Guide Dog Instructor Doug Ritchie. In previous posts I have tried to convey how frustrated I have been with Lenny’s dog distraction. I felt pretty inept about trying to help both my hubby and his guide dog in these sorts of situations. Today though, I feel so empowered. It wasn’t anything earth shattering but Doug gave me some great tools to help my hubby and Lenny work together better as a team. It’s still a long road ahead for them. I am sure though if we all work as a team that we will be victorious. 

You can learn so much sometimes just through the power of observation. It was terrific getting feedback from an expert. We aren’t sure if this will cure Lenny with his dog distraction but I feel better equipped when we come across the situation. I am sure that Adam in time will also feel more in control of the situation as we all use techniques that were shown to us.

We won’t be able to walk all the dogs together because it will make another dynamic for Lenny. Until we have a better idea of how to help Lenny and ourselves cope with the dogs, Mitch and Grady will have to be walked separately. I am also toying with the idea of trying some of the techniques on our own pets for behaviours that I want to instill in them. I think I will get more fit from all the walking we will be doing which is a great added bonus. It’s going to be very interesting.

I always think to myself that sometimes it’s the little things that makes me the most happy. Today it was a little thing that made me feel empowered. I hope that you will find a little something that will empower you as well.

I will keep you updated through the blog about the dog distraction results as we progress.

Mitch trialing a water harness with Adam at Hyams Beach

Lenny, Adam’s Guide Dog

Lenny relaxing in the kitchen in Werrington
This blog will express my opinions on Lenny, Adam’s guide dog because that is all I can do. I can speculate on Adam’s feelings but this blog is going to reflect my take on the relationship that I see developing between Adam and his dog. I also have an effect on the relationship but I try to minimize myself as much as I can but for me it’s sort of hard to do because I love them both so very much.

In my blog about Mitch, I credit him for Adam’s change of heart with the attitude about him getting his own guide dog. My approach to animals and Adam’s approach are two different things. I am much more a feelly touchy sort of person where Adam can be affectionate but he can also be a lot more detached. I am the one who is on the ground loving the big slobbery licks that dogs give so freely. Adam is just not that sort of person. He doesn’t like being licked by anything or anyone.

Adam’s decision to get a guide dog was not taken lightly. He isn’t the sort of fellow who does things by the seat of his pants for the most part. He likes order much more than I do. He contacted Guide Dogs NSW in 2007. He was assessed. I got to observe the whole process when the Guide Dog Trainer came out. It was quite funny seeing Adam interacting with the trainer taking him for a walk with a dog harness up to Werrington station pretending to be a dog (the trainer) while Adam was the handler. The trainer told Adam that they would be in contact once they found a suitable dog for him. Later on I think it was in July, Adam was contacted that a dog was found for him. The dog then ended up injurying itself before they were matched so Adam was back on the waiting list. In October or September we drove out to Glossodia for the Guide Dog Open Day, it was then that we got a glimpse at a dog that they hoped would be matched with Adam. In November, Adam went to Richmond to train with Rinni, the guide dog chosen for him. They were together for training in Richmond for 3 weeks. I drove to visit because Richmond wasn’t that far from Werrington where we lived. I was told not to give too much eye contact or attention to Rinni. After the 3 weeks intense training that the pair received, they came to our house. For another 3 weeks, Adam and Rinni did training to get to work and other places that Adam needed to get to. I observed what happened. Adam was getting up ridiculously early to try to toilet Rinni so that they would get to his work on time. Rinni was a stubborn dog. He could also be mean to Mitch. We were not allowed to let the two dogs interact alone in case Rinni got hurt during free runs. I wasn’t sure why they thought Rinni would get hurt when Rinni was the one holding down Mitch making him cry during the free runs.The day Rinni was to graduate and become Adam’s guide dog, Rinni was his stubborn self, he pooed in harness in the middle of Central Station not indicating that he need to go after Adam had tried leash relieving him for half an hour before they went into the station. At this point, Adam was very frustrated. He expressed his frustration to the trainer. He thought that having a guide dog was supposed to offer a sense of freedom not chain him down in unrealistic tolieting behaviors that made him have to get up two hours earlier just to try to get the dog to poo in hopes that Adam could make it to the train station or work without the dog doing it in harness. Adam told the trainer it was unacceptable and he’d rather not have a guide dog if that was the case for him. He was better off with the cane. Guide dogs reassured Adam they would make it right so Christmas 2007 it was just Adam, me, and Mitch.

Fast forward to July 2008, Adam and I just returned from our trip to Vanuatu. There was another guide dog that was trained especially for Adam by one of the trainers who had witnessed all the work Adam had done with Rinni. Adam and I both were skeptical about this dog but the man who trained Leonard tailored him for Adam. When we met Leonard, We knew it might work because within 5 minutes of introducing Lenny to Mitch, the trainer left the two to play in the backyard while he returned to his car to get more things.

Lenny is such a joy compared to Rinni. He is very eager to please. He loves working with Adam. Adam can even touch Lenny while leash relieving him to try to figure out which thing Lenny is doing. If Adam tried to do that with Rinni, Rinni would refuse to go about what he was doing. Lenny is excited when he sees Adam go to the hall stand to get the lead as well as the harness. He even tries to help put the harness on himself.

One of the nicest things with Lenny was that they trained at home. I got to go with them every time they went out to train. I would observe the lessons absorbing as much as I could to try to aid Lenny and Adam’s partnership. The trainers were forever telling Adam to praise Lenny vocally. It was wonderful watching the two of them bond as well as Mitch and Lenny bond.

Lenny trialing a water harness with Adam at Hyams Beach

Lenny trialing a water harness with Adam at Hyams Beach

I have to tell myself not to make too much eye contact with Lenny or love on him too much because I don’t want to interfere with their working relationship. I often wonder if I have infected my love into Lenny. I see how Lenny reacts when he sees me coming towards them when I am picking them up some place or meeting up with them in town. It’s a real chore for Adam to get Lenny back on task if I have shown up or he has to leave me.
I will not pet Lenny while in harness for the most part. I admit when no one is looking, I have slipped which I mustn’t do but it’s only when he’s in the boot of the jeep or we are at home.

It wasn’t long after Adam and Lenny bonded we discovered that Lenny had irritable bowel syndrome. He just could not put on weight. Guide Dogs helped Adam with the medication that Lenny needs. He has to eat special food which all of our dogs eat. We thought he might have to be retired but it was not the case. Lenny is medicated for life but he is an eager helper for Adam always full of love and ready to go for walks whether it be in harness or out of harness.

CloseupAdamandboys In this picture, you can’t tell that Adam is blind. He just looks like a man walking two labs down Mullaway beach. Mitch is on the right and Lenny on the left. Guide dogs always are on the left.

Lenny is dog distracted when working at times. It stems back to when he was attacked by a stray dog. Adam says he has “Bush Syndrome”. He has to get in first before the other dog tries to attack. Guide dogs has worked with them but it’s still not quite resolved. Lenny has had clicker training. One guide dog instructor was about to teach the method to Adam but she had to go down to Sydney to help with training other dogs because NSW is short on instructors. Maybe one day, it will all be worked out.

I am really glad that Adam made the decision to get a guide dog. I love Lenny but know he’s Adam’s dog. I will play with him but think of him strictly as Adam’s dog. I do shower him with affection but try to encourage him to seek Adam out. Mitch and Grady gets heaps of loving from me. I feel sort of bad for Lenny when he comes up wanting me to love on him too. I do a little bit but not to the extent that I do with the other two.

It’s wonderful watching Grady and Mitch get excited when they see them coming down the road and up the deck to the front door. They are a happy pack. I am really blessed to see the bond develop between Mitch, Lenny, Grady, Adam, and myself.

Mitch is our dog, Lenny is Adam’s dog, and Grady is my dog. I like to think of Lenny being partly owned by me but that’s not really realistic. He is part of my family unit though. Adam only tolerates Grady because I wanted him. Mitch though, is our dog together. Lenny is definitely Adam’s guide dog. He helps my man go places. It’s a privilege to watch them grow in their working relationship. I am glad to be a part of this wonderful relationship. I am happy to teach them new places. I get a real sense of accomplishment when I do something like that. If I can help those two work together without getting Guide Dogs in, I think I have helped. We do call Guide Dogs if I am not sure of a route but for the most part, I can do just as well as a guide dog instructor.

Adam is a great cane user. His independence is remarkable. His speed with Lenny is awesome. I practically feel like I am jogging to keep up when they know where they are going or I have to catch up with them. Lenny’s trainers did great work for Adam. They really selected a wonderful dog who helps Adam with his mobility.

It just goes to show, you can’t keep a good man or dog down for long! Thanks for stopping by and reading! Have a great day!

Mitch, My First Australian Dog

Picture 007

Once Adam and I moved from Homebush to Werrington I asked him about getting a dog. We had a lovely backyard. I have always loved animals but dogs just warm my heart. Before we left Homebush, we both thought it unfair to have a dog living in a unit but a house, that was a different kettle of fish. We also wanted to get a dog from a rescue place so we decided to go to Animal Welfare League to find a dog whom we both could love.
We were shown 3 dogs because I wanted to get a labrador if possible. The first dog was a boxer. I wasn’t keen on a boxer especially when I heard how energetic they could be. I had a labrador before and knew they had a very gentle nature. They loved walking and could sleep for hours if left to their own devices.
There were two lab mixes there. An older female who was black and a yellow lab named Mitch. Mitch was young about 2 years old. He wasn’t desexed yet. One of the conditions of adopting him was that he would have to be neutered.
I kept looking at the black lab but really wanted to get Mitch. Wicca was a nice enough dog but I wanted a young dog with energy. He was quite skinny but I knew with my love, he’d be thriving. I didn’t say anything to Adam until we were alone with Wicca. He thought I wanted Wicca but when I disclosed I really wanted Mitch, he was happy. We went back into the office to let them know our decision.
The lady at the front desk was really pushing for the boxer but I assured them I wanted Mitch. We had to answer tons of questions. Did we have children? Were there other dogs at home? My answer was simple. We have no children and no dogs. We wanted Mitch and were more than happy for him to be neutered. I was more than happy to take that yellow lab home with me but we had to wait for him to be desexed as well as pay for him to be registered in our council.
The following day, I was called by Animal Welfare again to make sure that we hadn’t changed our mind. I was told that Mitch was very playful. He was also a wanderer. He would not be suitable for children or socializing with other dogs by their animal behaviorist. I reassured them there was nothing to be afraid of because we had no other dogs and we had no children for him to play with.
The day came when we got to pick him up. I was given instruction on what sort of behaviour to expect from him since his hormones were raging. It’d be about a month for him to settle down. I was fine with that. We put him in the Daewoo happy to take our fur ball home.

Picture 008 As you can see he was very skinny but with in a few weeks of my indulgence, he looked like this!
Picture 006
Mitch has always been a pulling sort of dog on walks. I have taken him to get training to help with the pulling as well as a dog trainer for myself so that I can better manage him on walks. I now use a haltie on walks with him because if he’s not tired, he will literally pull my arm out of socket. I knew something was wrong with him when he had gotten lethargic and would let me walk him easily. I took him to a vet when I thought he had eaten a poisoned mouse. I saw a tail in the bathroom after we had the exterminator come in and put down baits to kill mice. He also loves to chase cats. Could you imagine my surprise when he reacted to Claudia the cat coming up to him without so much as a bark? Here’s the proof!Mitch and Claudia It turns out Mitch had a bad case of bait poisoning and was placed on Vitamin K! He mended but then figured out how to get under the house and baited himself again! Another huge vet bill paid for Vitamin K. We also made sure to put a lock on the manholes to keep Mitch away from the baits. If mice want to live with us now, I will let them be or try to catch them in a more human manner because the way they die by being baited is horrible! I hope we never have to go through that again with him.
We even took Mitch us on vacation to Coffs Harbour! Here’s a happy snap of him and Adam close to Sealy Lookout before it’s renovation!
Adam and Mitchy
After having Mitch for about a year, I asked Adam about getting another dog because I thought he might be lonely. Adam’s response was a resounding no because he wanted to get a guide dog. I was really thrilled for Adam. I never thought he was going to make that statement. This man who I love is ever independent. He use to say that a cane was much easier than a dog to use. It was less fussy as well as cleaner to deal with. You could leave the mobility cane in the corner. You didn’t have to feed it. It was always at the ready. You didn’t have to potty the cane. I will blog another time about Adam and his guide dog, Lenny.
I often muse to myself that it was Mitch who turned Adam’s thinking around. Mitch who was/is ever fun-loving, eager to go walking or play. Yes, dogs can be lots of work but they can be so loyal. Mitch whines when he sees other dogs. Some may think it’s because he’s scared but I know him better than that. He wants to go greet and meet. He is ever eager to run, smell, and play with another dog.
Mitch loves to go for a wander. There are times when I let him off lead when I think it’s ok especially in the bush where we live here. He hasn’t been out and about due to the stitches he got from the kangaroo he terrorized with the youngest of the Morris pack but he wants to go all the time. Nothing slows him down. He loves being an escape artist. We had to get better gates at Werrington thanks to his ingenuity. We didn’t have him a week before he wander away and I paid a reward of $50 for his return. Even at our latest house in paradise in the mid north coast of NSW we had to doctor the fence a bit because if there is any way that a dog can get out, Mitch is the dog who can do it.
He’s getting older now but he’s not slowing down. He can keep up with Grady who will turn 3 in June. He can be oh so gentle. He’s my Mitchy Mitch,my Mitchy Moo, Mooney booney, the Mitchiest Mitch of Mitches. I love him and am so glad he’s my dog. When I first got him, I thought how the hell am I going to put up with this yellow fur ball who can tear up swings with gusto. He’s mellowing with age but he’s always going to have a special place in my heart. He’s my first Australian dog who helped Adam and I become a family. I also think he helped Adam realize that having a guide dog wasn’t such a bad idea at all.
I’d love to hear about others first dogs if you want to share! Please be my guest!
I’ll leave with you another pic of Mitch and Lenny not long after Lenny joined our pack!

Mitch is on the left and Lenny is on the right taken on 23 December 2008

Mitch is on the left closest to the pole and Lenny is on the right taken on 23 December 2008

Happy Joy Joy Crap crap crap!

Today I just don’t really know what to blog about. I know I should finish up the Kimberley, Western Australia trip. I have way too many thoughts and trying to pinpoint something in particular is like trying to keep my dogs still when they want to go play even while they are stitched up.

I try to write interesting things when I blog but sometimes I just think it’s total crap so I don’t post. I want to be witty and funny but these past two days I haven’t been feeling that way at all. It’s hard to be witty and funny all the time. There are days when you just want to do that but you feel totally inept. I am in one of those moods today.
I spoke with a fellow blogger and he has helped me feel a bit better. He has really bad days but he’s a fighter. I may not have all the huge challenges that some people have but I try to deal with my own little crisis to the best of my ability.

When I was younger, I loved the Police.  (I still do love the Police). In fact, my favorite song that I love to listen to when I get in one of these moods just happens to be “Too Much Information”. Adam even bought me “Ghosts In The Machine” a few Christmas’ ago because I was telling him that was the first album I ever got. All the tracks are superb but “Too Much Information” is a real standout, especially when I get in one of my funky moods. I always turn to that song when I am worked up.

I know I shouldn’t expect to always write upbeat stuff but the world can be full of bitterness. I don’t want to add to the crap yet the fact remains I can’t always be in a happy joy joy state. There will be times when I feel like crap. I know God is there with me. I don’t feel like quoting scriptures. I am totally blessed. The fact remains that there are days when I struggle with staying in a happy joy joy state. It’s only natural so I better cut myself some slack and keep listening to “Too Much Information” to help my crap crap mood.

Prayingforoneday thanks for all the moral support. You are much appreciated! I love ya mate! I’ll keep on keeping on like you do! Another great Aussie saying will work for me too.  “She’ll be alright mate!” This shelia most certainly will! Peace and thanks for reading!