February 27, 2010

and just like that...

... she's gone :(
A week ago, Paz came into heat. We were able to keep her here with us this week, as today was her regularly scheduled pick up time for another training session at Lackland. On Tuesday, we learned that Paz would have to stay at the TSA puppy center for a few weeks, until she was out of heat. Because of the timing, and the logistics of driving the puppies back and forth from San Antonio, it was decided that Paz would not return to us. We were so sad, but not entirely surprised, by the news. Lately, Paz seemed so grown up and ready to go. Kate was particularly sad because she wouldn't be able to get home from college to tell Paz goodbye.

We've known from the very beginning that Paz was only "visiting" us until it was time for her to go to school, and then on to work protecting our country. She's been like a treasured friend, who moved in temporarily, so we could enjoy her company and spoil her a little bit. Still, we were expecting her to be hanging out with us til April; after all, we wanted her to be here to celebrate her 1st birthday!

So it was extra hard to get her ready for the drop off today. Packing ALL of her stuff up in a box, taking her crate apart, and loading it all in the car seemed so final- and it was. Even though Phil and I shed a few tears, Paz was excited to hop in the car and head off for another adventure! She seemed very happy to see the other puppies and TSA staff- in fact she was so excited it was hard to get her into the truck! Her tail was still wagging when we drove off, a good way for things to be.

We have so many great memories of the Paz over the last 9 months! Being a part of her growth and developent was such a treat! Even though she's gone, there are reminders of her all over the house: a few tooth marks on the remote, the towels she turned into tug-of-war ropes, frayed edges on a rug or two, my eyeglasses that have one earpiece that is shorter than the other... I know whenever I come across those things in the next few days and months, that they will make me smile. We are going to miss her terribly, but in a good way. She definitely left her paw prints all over our hearts.

February 23, 2010

Fun in the Snow!

It's snowing here today! Nothing outrageous, and it probably won't stick around for long, but Paz has been having a great time! She's chased snowballs I've been throwing all around the yard; when she found them she ate them. When I wasn't looking, she stole one of my gloves and ran all around the yard, shaking it to death. She was pretty proud of herself after that. Here are a few pictures of Paz enjoying the snow!

February 16, 2010

Happiness is...

We are blessed that Paz is such a sweet natured dog! I'm not sure how that will play into her future role as a bomb sniffer, but it has certainly made fostering her a joy! If your about my age, you might remember a Charles Schultz book called Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. Too true! Having Paz around has certainly made us happy!

Paz is just naturally happy. For her, life itself seems to be a wonderful adventure to be savored and enjoyed. Today was another awesome day full of new things that Paz seemed to love! In honor of that spirit, this post will be all about things that make Paz happy. So here goes: Happiness is...

A REALLY muddy culvert to be explored!

Winning Tug of War
with the towel
after playing in the
muddy, wet culvert!

Hanging out with Dad, Ding and Jed!

Plastic Bottles!

Going to School!
Paz really enjoys going up to the high school where I teach. She explores the hallways, climbs the stairs, and visits classes. Today, Paz attended Canine Science classes. The students were learning about the major muscle groups in dogs, and Paz became a living model! She happily allowed the students to tape the names of the muscles in the correct location all over her. At one point, she had 13 name cards on various parts of her body. Hats off to the teacher for developing such a great, hands on lesson!

It's pretty obvious that fostering Paz has brought our family lots of happiness!

January 24, 2010

A Busy New Year!

The last 2 months have flown by in a blur- a blur of yellow fur as Paz zooms by us again! Even though things have been fast paced, these last few months have been awesome!

We were barely over the comfortable warm feelings and fullness Thanksgiving brought when Christmas arrived. The break brought Paz's beloved Kate home for the holidays. Kate spent much of that time catching up on some much needed sleep, and as you can tell from the picture, Paz and Jed (snoozing down on the rug) were happy to keep her company :)

Paz enjoyed all of the festivities and some of the decorations a little too much. We realized pretty fast that our usual Christmas tree in its usual location just wasn't going to work well with Paz around. After watching her carefully take one ornament after another off of a friend's tree (much to the friend's amusement!) Phil and I figured we didn't want to spend the entire holiday policing Paz and the tree! Many discussions later, we decided a very small tabletop tree was in order, along with our stocking and a few strategically placed decorations. I'm very pleased to report that everything but one small (but highly cherished for the memory attached to it) decoration made it through without any trouble. Paz did manage to take a couple of our stockings down and parade around with them; I'm still not sure how she did it without knocking the stocking weights down too. What a clever girl!

Christmas also brought our family a big scare! Our senior dog, Jed (14.5 years) became very ill right before Christmas. He has a whopper of a heart murmur and it went from bad to almost lethal overnight. He spent a few days in ICU at Texas A&M's wonderful Vet School hospital and came home much healthier and happier. His prognosis isn't great- we'll probably only get to enjoy him for 6-12 more months- but right now his new meds have made a huge difference and he has lots more energy than before. Paz and Ding were a little lost without him here; Ding was especially upset! Everyone was much happier when Jed came back home! A great Christmas gift for us all!

Paz really enjoyed trips to the mall and Petsmart for Christmas shopping. She paid no attention to anyone but the mall Santa- something about his outfit grabbed her attention! Paz still dislikes walking close to our Hollister store; the only reason I can think of is the horribly strong perfume that pours out of that place.

On Christmas day, Paz loved the tug of war rope and heavy duty Nylabones that Santa left for her. She literally picked the tug of war rope out herself at Petsmart a few days before Christmas so that one wasn't a big surprise!!! She also had fun running around the house with yards of wrapping paper trailing behind her. She wasn't a big help when it came to cleaning up!

The weather this winter has been exceptionally cold, so we spent much of the week after Christmas inside drinking hot chocolate and watching Paz play outside in the rain and mud. She absolutely LOVED it! Obviously genetics play a huge part in all of this, because she truly had a blast getting filthy dirty in the coldest water she could find. It didn't even phase her! Boy did we get cold and wet cleaning her up!

New Year's was pretty low key- a great meal with friends and family, lots of football games and a few fireworks. We're not big into New Year's resolutions; instead we talked a lot about all of the highs and lows of the past year and things we learned. Here's a short list:
  • Having your family close by is awesome
  • Being healthy is such a blessing!
  • Being employed is a blessing and gift that you have to work hard for
  • Planning a wedding is FUN!
  • Fostering Paz has been a blast!
  • Risking your heart, even when you know it's going to hurt later, is worth it
  • You make your own destiny by following your dreams
  • We need to take a lot more pictures of Paz before she leaves
  • I am not much of a blogger...
And the next day, Paz was gone! Back to Lackland for training and evaluation. Each time she goes, it gets a little harder knowing that in a few more months, she will stay there and start her "real" job. Her evaluation was good! She was comfortable in all of the exercises they put her through, and her toy drive has improved also! This is really good news, even though it also means she'll be leaving us soon.

Now that the holiday rush is over, hopefully I'll be better about posting info and pictures!

November 28, 2009

Lots to be Thankful for!

I'm sitting here on the Saturday after Thanksgiving feeling so blessed! We had lots of family and friends in town to celebrate with us, enjoyed our own version of Aggie Bonfire (Paz was really interested in this!) had a fabulous meal, and even though our beloved Aggies lost, we still had a great time at the football game. We are all well and healthy and truly blessed! Paz was into the Thanksgiving spirit (even though she spent Thanksgiving meal time in her crate!) and really seemed to enjoy being home and experiencing another large family get together.

So much time has passed since my last post! I'm obviously NOT cut out to be a blogger. Somehow work, traveling for Kate's soccer and Paz keep me busy enough that I don't make the time to post! Well, I'm comfortably full and very content, so this is a great time to blog!

Paz is doing great! She'll be 8 months old in 4 days and has matured so much. She is still very curious and loves to explore everywhere we go, but she is very calm, well mannered and incredibly sweet. Paz is still pretty small in size compared to her siblings and she doesn't seem nearly as high strung either. Paz and the other O and P litter puppies went back to Lackland for training a couple of weeks ago. For some reason, it was harder for me to drop her off this time... still not sure exactly why, a foreshadowing of things to come, maybe? Anyway, Paz did a good job during all of the community exposure, confined spaces, stairs, etc. but her toy drive still isn't where it needs to be. Paz is very easy going (genetics?) and this seems to play a part in her toy drive. Phil and I are continuing to work with her in this area, and we're trying some new things to help her out! Our goal is for her to be a successful working dog for TSA so we're going to do whatever we can to make that happen!

Kate recently finished up her college soccer season, so Paz won't be making the weekly trips with us to watch her play. I know Paz is going to really miss the chance to run all around the enclosed practice fields, splashing through the mud puddles chasing her toy! She also won't get to see her beloved Kate and that is going to be hard for both of them. We're going to have to find new places for her to climb bleachers and hunt for her toy! We'll also have to design some short trips together because she is a great travel companion!

The end of Kate's soccer season means that Phil and I can use our Aggie football tickets and make a few games. Paz LOVES Aggie football at our house because we have so many great friends who come by with their kids each home game weekend. There are several future Aggies that have Paz's energy level and she really seems to enjoy being chased (0r chasing!) them all around the backyard. She pretty much ignores everybody inside the house though, which is probably good training for her future employment!

Now that summer really seems to be over and fall is in full swing, Paz has discovered some new things she really likes! She is intrigued with falling leaves. She's made a game out of trying to catch them as they blow around in the wind, which was fine when just a few were falling, but completely overwhelming now that thousands are coming down at once! The 2nd new discovery is acorns. We've never had a dog eat them before, but apparently they are a delicacy as we can't keep Paz from inhaling them! And even though we had a terrible drought here this summer, there are zillions of acorns everywhere. Let's just say she's getting plenty of fiber in her diet these days : ) The zillions of acorns at our place have brought in zillions of deer! Paz seems to be mesmerized by them, standing very still and quiet when she sees them. She knows they are around long before we do and her stillness gives them away!

Christmas is just around the corner and Paz's presence in our house has made Phil and I decide a few changes are in order. Normally, we get a fairly large tree and set it up in the dining room of our house... not wanting to have to police Paz constantly over the next few weeks, we've decided a table top sized tree is the way to go this year. Not exactly sure where we're going to put it to make sure Paz doesn't redecorate it when we're not around, but I have a few clandestine locations in mind! The stockings will still be hung by the chimney with care (even Paz's!) just a little differently to ensure they're still in place for Santa to find Christmas Eve. I'm hoping for another snow right before Christmas like we had last year- I'd love to see how Paz would react to it!

Well you can tell that we've settled into a pretty good routine around here. We continue to take Paz out into the community every chance we get to help with her socialization, and a trip to the Houston airport is in the works. Phil, Kate and I are loving being a TSA foster family and we're really excited about the adventures the next few months will bring to Paz and our family! Since I probably won't post anything again for a few more weeks, I'll take this opportunity to say Happy Holidays to all the TSA puppy staff, families and friends! We hope your holidays are blessed in every sense of the word!

October 11, 2009

6 Months Old!

Yep! On October 2, the 2009 P litter turned 6 months old!  Paz and the other puppies went back to Lackland for their 6 month evaluation on Sept. 26.  The birthday celebration had to wait until Paz came home : )  It was a very quiet week around our house without Paz!  Jed and Ding got a much needed and deserved break, which I know they appreciated.  Everything returned to our rather crazy normal when Paz returned on October 3. 

Paz now weighs twice as much as Jed and 3 times more than Ding, so those two have had to adjust to having a "big" dog in their lives! For the most part, they all get along great; Jed (14) and Ding (10) are in their "golden" years and really don't have the desire or energy to try to keep up with Paz and her antics.  Even so, they all find time to run around a little bit and bark at things together.  Jed and Paz share a common love of chasing squirrels, although Jed doesn't see them very well these days.  They both seem so disappointed when the squirrels get away.  I'm thrilled though... I don't know what I'd do if either of them every caught one!!! 

Paz had a decent 6 month evaluation.  The problems that were noted were more our fault than hers.  We're working daily to improve her toy drive; she really LOVES the new toy that she came home with!  We continue to take Paz everywhere with us to expose her to new situations and crowds.  The biggest problem we have here is finding places with actual crowds!  Paz has been to my school and to local foot ball games.  We've also taken her to our mall.  In the future, we're planning on taking Paz to the Houston airport and some larger malls in Houston or Dallas and hopefully this will help with any hesitations she may have. 
Paz has become a true road warrior lately!  She's been to Dallas several times and this past weekend to Belton an Brownwood, all to watch her beloved Kate play soccer.  She is such a great travel companion!  She sleeps or chews on a nylabone in the car; she doesn't mind the seatbelt we have her wear at all!  Paz is also a great hotel guest- never barks and sleeps peacefully in her crate.  My children should have been so well behaved!!!!  We use these trips as opportunities to get Paz out in the community.  She's very relaxed at the soccer/athletic complexes we visit.  She seems really comfortable climbing and exploring the stands and bathrooms; She pretty much ignores all of the people that are there as well, unless they come up to her.  We have a little trouble keeping people away from her, but when we explain she's working, most folks leave her alone. One thing we really enjoy doing while Paz is out is explaining the TSA puppy program to the people we meet!  Paz is a great rep for the program!!!

Paz has always loved exploring around our property and neighborhood. Since she was a small puppy, Paz has been intrigued by the long culvert under our rural driveway.  She routinely stuck her head in and would sometimes taken a step or two inside, but she always came right out. About a week ago, Paz's curiosity got the better of her and before I knew it, she'd gone all the way through!  It's amazing what Paz will do on her long lead!  Now, Paz wants to go into every culvert we pass by.  We have had to work hard with her to keep her from diving right in- you never know what creatures (snakes? possums? fireants?) could be lurking inside!  If the culverts have water in them, they become even more attractive to her!  Her love for water is sooooo powerful! If anybody ever needs to have their water filled culvert checked out, Paz is your dog!  We continue to take Paz to local parks to run through the tunnels at the playgrounds; however, now we also allow her to explore the culvert under our driveway, AFTER we've checked it out to make sure it's varmint and hazard free!

September 20, 2009

Long Overdue Update!

Wow! It's pretty obvious that I'm not the best at keeping up with Paz's blog! It has been almost a month since I've added anything! With the start of school and the start of Kate's college soccer season, we've all been pretty busy, including Paz!

In the last 3 weeks, Paz has spent time in the kennel twice while Phil and I traveled to Memphis, TN, and Austin/San Antonio to watch Kate' team play. There's a great new kennel in town that we checked out, and we felt very comfortable leaving Paz, Jed and Ding with the staff. Both times, Paz came home healthy and happy. The staff reported that she was a great guest and had fun meeting some of the other dogs. Jed and Ding also came home happy and somewhat rested, as the kennel staff gave them a break from Paz's antics!

We continue to take Paz out and about to explore. She made a couple of long trips to Walmart where she "hupped" up on anything she could! She also did a pretty good job finding her favorite "stinky sock" when we hid it in different places in the garden center! Her favorite part of Walmart continues to be the pet section; she discovered the fish tanks the last time she was there and was completely mesmerized by them! Better than tv!

Paz's new favorite place is Wolfe Pen Creek Amphitheater. The long lead is great here so she can run up and down the amphitheater over and over. There are LOTS of steps there too, so it's great practice. She has a really good time on the playground; it has several slides and tunnels. She is big enough now to go down and UP the slides! I thought the tunnels might bother her, but she had no trouble running through them. The hardest part this time was keeping her out of the pond and creek! She truly loves the water! Since we recently had some RAIN!!!!! she got pretty muddy... must remember to keep towels in the trunk!

Paz has also enjoyed 2 trips to Dallas to see Kate play soccer. She has been very well behaved both times. All she does in the car is sleep (Yahoo!) and she explores the stadium on the long lead during the games. We have to watch the out of bounds balls pretty carefully or she tries to steal them! After the last game, Paz had a great reunion with Kate :) Paz must miss her more than I realized!

We're really enjoying our time with Paz! Things are a little easier now that she's housebroken and sleeping later! Being a foster family continues to be a blast!