Moscow Cat Circus

I’m going to bear this film in mind, the next time I think of cats as ‘impossible to train’.

At the moment, I can’t even handle one six month old French Bulldog puppy. Pickle is driving me insane, mainly because she’s smart. A smart Frenchie can be a dangerous thing, because she won’t let me get away with suff like spending four hours watching videos on Funny or Die, when she feels we should be doing something more rewarding like going for a walk or doing some table training. She expresses her disapproval by knocking over the water dish, and stomping through it with her fat little feet. She then sits in the water and glares at me.

I knew keeping one of Delilah’s daughters was a bad idea. That makes four generations of smart, impatient Bullmarket girls all in one household. I’m doomed. Maybe I should just get more cats.

A Tessa Update:

As some of you know, Tessa had a turn for the worse over the weekend. As of now, however, she’s still here, hanging in.

We’ve set up a small space for her with carpeting covered with wee wee pads, with a nice cozy bed and her water dish. It’s right in front of the fireplace, too. She seems to be doing fine, now that she’s not trying to negotiate the hard wood while also fending off Pickle, who thinks Tessa’s face is a secret goldmine of uneaten food particles.

She’s eating again, and last night she picked a fight with Sailor (that’s a really good sign, around our place).

So long as she is comfortable, and not in any pain, I’m going to keep the smelly old girl around for a while longer 🙂 I know full well that she is, indeed, slowing down, but there’s still some fight in her yet (just ask Sailor).

At Risk Kids Graduate Class of Assistance Dogs

Participating in BARK program are (from left) Holly with her trainer Amanda, Maple with trainer Matt, and Daisy with trainer Sean.

Participating in BARK program are (from left) Holly with her trainer Amanda, Maple with trainer Matt, and Daisy with trainer Sean.

A great example of how partnerships between dogs and at risk youth and adults can help everyone involved.

From the Londoner

Residents of London’s Craigwood Youth Services are preparing to say goodbye to their first class of new assistance dogs after more than a year of training at the Ailsa Craig campus.

The youthful trainers began to work with the assistance dogs in September 2007, when the dogs were still young pups. Since then, the pups have had regular training sessions with the youth to learn specialized assistance tasks for local people with physical challenges.

The youth and pups were partnered under the BARK program (Building Awareness Responsibility and Knowledge), a collaboration of Craigwood Youth Services and Golden Opportunity Assistance Dogs, with funding from the Trillium Foundation.

Donna Frezell, the owner and lead trainer at Golden Opportunity Assistance Dogs, brought the concept to London in 2006 after participating in similar programs in California.

Project BARK is modelled after an innovative, therapeutic intervention program for youth who are identified to be at high risk for continued emotional and behavioural challenges.

Under the guidance of Golden Opportunity Assistance Dogs’ trainers the youth learn to train and place assistance dogs with people with physical disabilities. The training teaches youth responsibility, emotional regulation and nurturing skills.

As the group is nearing graduation day, trainers and dogs met recently at the Golden Opportunity Assistance Dog training centre in Westmount Shopping Centre to demonstrate advanced skills such as retrieving a water bottle from the refrigerator, turning on light switches and even fetching a telephone.

Graham Ashbourne, program director at the Craigwood campus in Ailsa Craig, considers the program to be a “win-win” for all participants.

“It’s wonderful to see the effect that the dogs have on our kids,” he says. “The dogs have a dramatic calming influence on children who are often dealing with significant emotional challenges. The attachments they form are important for the children and for the dogs. Both our youth and staff look forward to the BARK days here.”

Read the full article here –