Not Enough Hours, Should Be In NYC and First Vet Visit

As you can tell by my title I have alot to say!  This shouldn’t be surprising though to anyone that knows me!

I know everyone is so busy…..I mean, there are truly not enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to and want to; but this week especially has been almost overwhelming for me at times to just do all that I need to do, not to mention the things that I want to do like go to the gym and catch up on General Hospital….you know the important things in life!  HA!  Needless to say, the reason I haven’t blogged since Sunday is I just haven’t had the time.  

I do wish I had about 5 more hours each day to get things done, especially in the evening hours.  I pick Hannah up at school at 2:45 pm, we are home by 3:15 and then it is time for her bath, homework, dinner, love on Henny and either her iPad or a puzzle and then bed.  Now, I know Hannah goes to bed MUCH earlier than most kids.  She is in bed asleep by 6:15 pm, but it is based on necessity due to her heart and health.  She is just one of those kids that requires 12+ hours of sleep each night.  Not that I am complaining, but it does take its toll on spending quality time with her (especially Dennis).  But, it is what is best for her, so we make sure we stay on schedule; but at times, believe it or not, it can be stressful.  So, yes, I wish I had a few more hours in the evenings to just “chill” and “veg” as a family and not rush around trying to get everything done in a 3-hour time-span.  I do have to give a shout-out to all you working moms out there… you do it is beyond me.  As hard as it seems to get things done; I stay very thankful that I don’t have to dedicate 8+ hours each day to an employer….my hat is off to all of you that work full-time and take care of your family!  You are better women than I am!

Well……last night was the night that one of my dearest friends Kristin and I were supposed to fly out to New York City.  Needless to say, because of Henny, our plans have been POSTPONED.  POSTPONED are in all caps because it is exactly that…..POSTPONED…..not CANCELLED!  We are actually working on finding a new date in the fall to take our much-needed and if I say so myself, much deserved trip to NYC!  The Big Apple has been calling my name for many years.  It is my absolutely FAVORITE place on the planet and if I had been smart when I was younger I would have moved there when I had the chance to.  I haven’t been since the year before Dennis and I got married and I used to go practically every year up until then.  So, the shopping, food, shopping, shows, shopping…..are calling my name!  Did I mention the shopping?  HA!  

I know I blamed Henny for the trip being postponed, but it isn’t her fault.  It was just the fact that there was no way I could go to Team Training for 2 weeks, come home for a week and then leave again especially since Dennis isn’t certified to “take care of Henny.”  I mean he knows how to take care of her, but he hasn’t taken the test and he isn’t “allowed” to do much with her until he does.  So, it just wasn’t possible or feasible to take a vacation right now…..but, soon….VERY soon!  Kristin, I know you read my blog…..THIS TRIP WILL HAPPEN IN 2013 and I can’t wait!

This morning after I dropped Hannah off at school, I took Henny to her first vet appointment.…..I didn’t know I could love a vet so much!  He was so good with Henny and even better with me.  I am known to ask lots of questions (just ask any one of the trainers at Canine Companions and the other families there) and sometimes they are even “dumb” questions. I get this honestly from my dad; but I am sure at times doctors, trainers or whomever I am asking questions of want to just cover their ears and scream!  HA!  But, not Dr. McCall…..he was wonderful, helpful and I can tell that he truly loves animals.  So to all my readers, if you live in Jacksonville and are looking for a vet….check out San Pablo Animal Clinic and see Dr. Moody McCall… will LOVE him!  

Now that I have taken up time that I don’t really have to update the blog I have to hurry on out of here to go pick-up Hannah from school.  Don’t think the school staff or teachers would be real happy if I was late……Hannah is definitely one of the kids that they are happy to see each day, but more than likely even happier to see leave each day too!  HA!  She is so fully of energy and life that it makes me tired just thinking about what her teachers must feel like each day after school is over!

Until next time……




Puppy Raisers, The “Silent Hero’s”

I can’t let our experience with Canine Companions for Independence go without recognizing the “silent hero’s.”  The puppy raisers are the ones who raise the puppies for their first year to year and a half of life.  The puppy raisers go to the airport and pick up the puppy that they are going to raise.  All the dogs are bred in California and then at 8 weeks of age are shipped around the country to the puppy raiser that has been picked for them.

These sweet people then take this precious puppy into their homes to love, train and prepare for Advanced Training at one of the 5 Canine Companions for Independence Training Centers.  For 12-18 months these puppy raisers put their love, sweat, tears and time into a dog that they will eventually have to say goodbye to.  I cannot imagine how difficult that is for them.  Heck, I have only known Henny for 3 weeks now and I cannot imagine parting with her.  She is part of our family.  I cannot fathom having her for 18 months and then saying goodbye knowing that it is forever.

We had the absolute sweetest puppy raisers for Henny.  We were able to meet them on the Friday night before graduation on Saturday and then also at graduation.  You should have seen Henny when she saw them again… was as if time hadn’t passed and she just knew them…..she loved them, it brought tears to my eyes seeing their reunion.

The puppy raisers that I have talked to say that they do grow attached to the puppies but they just have to keep in mind why they do what they do.  They think about the people with special needs that the dog they are raising are going to help and improve their lives….knowing this makes it somewhat easier to put all they have into raising these puppies and then eventually say goodbye to them.

Not all the puppies that go to Advanced Training pass to then go to a recipient.  So, you can imagine the joy that it brings to the puppy raiser when they receive the phone call that the dog that they have raised has passed Advanced Training and is being placed with a family.  The reason these puppy raisers do what they do is to help those that can’t help themselves.  It takes a compassionate, selfless, loving and caring person to do what they do.

The people who do this are not only doing something that ultimately will break their hearts in a way, but they are investing in the lives of people that they DO NOT know!  To me, especially as a mom to one of those special recipients, that speaks volumes to me of the kindness of these special puppy raisers.  Realistically how many of us do anything for complete strangers, especially if there is zero benefit to us?  We do it just because we care and we want to make someone else’s life better?  I can’t say that I have ever done that, can you?

So, to all you puppy raisers out there…..THANK YOU!  Those 2 words don’t seem like enough…..because no amount of thanks can really express just how much your selfless and thoughtful act has done for my family and the families just like us.  YOU have made an impact in our life that we can NEVER repay.  YOU are the first people who these puppies know and love and YOU were willing to do what you did for a little girl with Down Syndrome who’s new best friend is the dog that you so selflessly raised as a puppy.  A dog that knows YOU, a dog that remembers YOU and a dog that loves YOU.

Because of YOU……my little girl’s life is changed forever and from this mom’s heart NOTHING means more than that!

Our family with Henny’s puppy raisers, our new friends!


Hannah sneaking a kiss from her new best friend!

The Perfect Dog

Okay…..seriously, I cannot believe that those words “the perfect dog” were just uttered from my mouth and typed on my keyboard!  I have not been shy or quiet in my blog (heck, I have never been considered shy or quiet about anything), but especially in my blog…..I have not been shy or quiet about being a “cat-person.”  I have never been a dog-lover, not that I don’t like dogs….I have always liked them, just never really wanted one or have I seen the need for one, until now!  I never in a million years would have ever called a dog “perfect.”  A cat, yes…..I have called many cats “purr-fect” but that is the cat-lover in me talking!

Needless to say, if it were not for Hannah, we would not have a dog or probably a cat either for that matter, since Dennis is definitely NOT a cat-person!  But, because of Hannah and because of Canine Companions we now have a dog and she truly is the PERFECT dog!  What dog, would lay on the floor patiently waiting for a 7-year old to complete her physical examination with her Doc McStuffins doctor kit….thermometer and all?  (Disclaimer:  I was with them the entire time and the thermometer, although tried did not enter the dog’s backside….Henny was not harmed in any way during said doctor check-up).

What dog would sit in the kitchen while I cook dinner and when I accidentally dropped a piece of cooked steak on the floor would just sit there and not make a dive for it?  Yes, Henny…..she won’t eat until I give the command of  “Okay”….then AND ONLY then will she go for food and that is when there is food in her bowl.  She is not allowed people food and knows not to go for it!

What dog, while asleep in her doggie bed would continue to lay there while a crazy, wild 7-year old child crawled into the doggie bed and laid down with her head on the dog’s side?  Again, only Henny!

Every morning, Henny tolerates Hannah’s “wake-up Henny” then followed by lots of kisses and hugs!

Yes, these are just a few of the things that make Henny perfect in my eyes.  She is a dog, but one I have truly come to love.  I believe with every ounce of my being that God created Henny with Hannah in mind.  Then He saw fit to find the PERFECT puppy raisers for her.  (Just a side note, I will do a whole blog post on Puppy Raisers in a day or so.  I want my blog readers to know just what goes into these precious dogs and the people who truly love these dogs and raise them before the dog is sent to Advanced Training.  It is amazing the love, devotion and selfless spirit that a puppy raiser has.  More on this subject in my next blog.)  Then, after Henny was ready and trained, the Lord made it possible for us to be chosen to go to Team Training in Orlando; way before we should have been allowed to.  This is where the trainers took all their wisdom and knowledge (which is God-given if you ask me) and they decided that Henny was the right dog for Hannah.

So, you see, there was alot that went into us getting Henny.  There was alot of prayer on our part and a ton of love, devotion and selfless acts on the part of the puppy raisers and lots of wisdom and knowledge on the part of the trainers for it all to come to fruition for Hannah to get the “perfect dog.”

Thought I would include some pictures with this post so you can see for yourself just how perfect our Henny is for our Hannah!

Morning hugs and kisses

Morning hugs and kisses

Dr. Hannah giving Henny a much needed check-up

Dr. Hannah giving Henny a much needed check-up

Henny trying to nap, but truly not caring that Hannah decided to come rest with her

Henny trying to nap, but truly not caring that Hannah decided to come love on her

Forever Changed

I have had alot of people ask me about my experience in Orlando at Canine Companion Team Training and I think most are shocked when I say that the experience changed my life.  It changed my life not with the “dog” aspect, although that has truly been a change for me and I am still adjusting; but it was life changing because of the people who I met and the bond that we shared.

You see, it is not often (actually never) that I am in a place “living” with 6 other families, all of which have a story similar, yet different from mine.  Here I was with Hannah in unfamiliar territory with people who I didn’t know.  Yes, we had our “private” space which consisted of a nice size “dorm” room with a private bath; but we had lots of “shared” space with these other families.  We shared a kitchen, dining area and living area and lived like this for 2 weeks.

The families that were there were incredible and their stories even more so.  None of us had the same story; yet we all shared the common bond of a disability and we were all there for the same purpose… train with a dog that would benefit and impact our lives and the lives of our loved ones for the good.  I won’t go into any of the other families stories to respect their privacy; but I will say that meeting these other 6 families changed me forever.  Yes, I deal on a daily basis with a child that has special needs but being with and technically “living” with these other families showed me that I am not alone when at times, it feels like I am.

We weren’t “supposed” to be in this February training…..we were a last-minute fill-in because another family had to cancel….yet, I know that all along we were supposed to be in this training, with these people!  I strongly believe that God had us there for me……I needed to meet these other families and I needed to be rejuvenated by their stories, their situations and their positive outlook on life!

Forever Changed…..those are the words that best sum up my experience in Orlando……..I will be forever grateful for this time in my life.  Nothing compares to the bond that people share over a loved one with disabilities!  Different stories……same heart……mine, forever changed!

A Special Thank-You and Back To Reality Because I’m Not A Kardashian

I need to acknowledge 3 special people.  Without these 3 people selflessly giving of their time, patience, love and care,  Hannah and I never would have been able to go through the last 2 weeks and we would not have Henny.

If it weren’t for my neighbor Kim taking off from work for 3 days, driving herself to Orlando and dedicating those 3 days 24/7 with Hannah and taking care of her I would have been LOST and never been able to complete the lectures, quizzes, tests, training, etc. that was asked of me.  I was in class that first week of Canine Training 8+ hours each day……without Kim entertaining Hannah, taking her to the potty, helping her with lunch, playing with her….well, I can’t say thank you enough!  Then on Wednesday evening when Kim had to travel home to be back at work on Thursday; my sister-in-law Sharon drove down, took 2 days off of work to pick-up with Hannah where Kim left off.  Without these 2 very special people, this trip couldn’t and wouldn’t have happened.  So, BIG THANK YOU’s to them both!

The third person I have to thank is Dennis.  He drove down on Friday night and relieved Sharon of her duties and was there for the 2nd week of training.  Dennis had more one-on-one time with Hannah than he has EVER had!  He even followed my instructions to the tee!  HA!  On top of taking care of Hannah, he did laundry, prepared dinner, and did all of Hannah’s night-time routine so that I could study and visit with all my new friends.  Funny thing is, when I did get to the room most nights between 8pm and 9pm, Dennis was in bed watching Andy Griffith episodes!  My hubby and Andy…..they would have been the best of friends!

So, needless to say, I was able to get through those 2 weeks of training all thanks to “my helpers!”  Thank you, all 3 of you……just like I told the trainers and Henny’s puppy-raisers; they invested in Hannah’s life by what they did for Henny.  Y’all invested in Hannah’s life by allowing me to do what I needed to so we could bring Henny home!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Now…..back to reality!  HA!  Didn’t realize how much I enjoyed Canine Training until I got home and reality hit me in the face.  Heck, while I was gone I didn’t cook, didn’t do laundry, didn’t clean, didn’t pay bills, didn’t do ANYTHING except learn how to take care of and command a dog!  So, coming home was kind-of a bummer in that sense!  I could so easily be one of those very rich stay-at-home mom’s that had a chauffeur, maid, personal chef, nanny….well, you get the picture!  But, unfortunately (or fortunately, whichever way you look at it), I am not a Kardashian!  I could so easily live that life though, well except for the parties, men, sex, tabloids, videos…..I probably should stop there!  HA!  But, since I am not a Kardashian I am back here in my quaint little home, with my family back to doing what it is I do best….cleaning, cooking, cleaning, organizing, cleaning, driving Hannah to school, cleaning, shopping, cleaning……did I mention cleaning?!?!  I am not complaining but it was a nice 2 week break from the “usual” routine.  Now, back to it, just this time with a dog under-foot!

I do so miss all my friends that I made while I was gone!  From the trainers that were wonderful to the other 6 families that were there…..miss you guys and so thankful for the time that we had together!  Looking forward to watching as all of us benefit from our new family member.

Meet Henny – Part One

As promised, let me introduce you to Henny, our new Golden Lab.  She is beautiful, smart, loving, well-trained and the best part…..she let’s Hannah do anything to her!  HA!

I truly never thought I would have a dog.  I can still say I am not a “dog person,” but I can say with confidence that I am a “Henny person.”  There are some things that dogs do (like follow you everywhere, have to go potty outside, sniff everything, lick everything, shed everywhere, etc…) that I am going to have to learn to live with and accept, but for Hannah’s sake, I will do just that.  I do see alot more vacuuming and mopping in my future though…..probably everyday!

So, without further delay and because I still have a TON of things to do like unpack, pay bills, organize all Henny’s things, make a few phone calls (today is my dad’s birthday) and a million other things; I will just end this blog post with some pictures of Henny and Hannah from the last 2 weeks!  Enjoy!

Henny is quite the lady with her paws crossed

Henny is quite the lady with her paws crossed


Why hello there!

Why hello there!


Tuckered out in the backseat of the car

Tuckered out in the backseat of the car


Hannah LOVES her Henny

Hannah LOVES her Henny


Yes, Henny is bigger than Hannah but she is a big baby

Yes, Henny is bigger than Hannah but she is a big baby


Henny and me taking our test in the mall.....she did so good and I passed

Henny and me taking our test in the mall…..she did so good and I passed


Henny really wanted up on the bed, but Dennis wouldn't let her.  She stayed in this position for about 20 minutes.....I think she was secretly hoping her would change his mind

Henny really wanted up on the bed, but Dennis wouldn’t let her. She stayed in this position for about 20 minutes…..I think she was secretly hoping he would change his mind


This picture is from last night.....Dennis was working, Hannah was in bed and Henny and I were cuddled on the sofa....shhhhh, don't tell Dennis

This picture is from last night…..Dennis was working, Hannah was in bed and Henny and I were cuddled on the sofa….shhhhh, don’t tell Dennis









New Friends

I have to be honest by saying that even though this has been a very mentally and physically exhausting experience I have REALLY enjoyed it!  Mostly due to the fact of the new friends I have made.  We are only one of seven families here training with Canine Companions and ALL the people here are incredibly gracious, kind, accepting and fun!  We have really had the best time laughing, learning and getting to know each other.  We have stressed out together and laughed at ourselves and each other.  I have enjoyed the company of people who truly understand where I am as a mom with a child with special needs and going through this Canine experience together.  We all have different stories but we are all here for the same reason…..helping our children gain more independence and giving them a best friend in a dog!

The staff here is incredible and I am sure they will become extended family as we keep close communication with them throughout the life of our dog.  I hope and pray that we will be able to keep in touch with all of our new friends as well.

This experience has been life changing for me in so many ways and I feel so blessed and I am so thankful to have had this opportunity.  I really feel that God just put these seven families together knowing that we would just “fit.”  What an incredible group of people who I am blessed to call new friends.