Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday gift giving to support local working dogs!

Ofc. Vargas and K9 Mitch of CSUN's Dept. of Police Services.
Support our Local Working Dog Teams this Holiday Season!

Looking for the perfect, last-minute holiday gift?  Consider a donation to one of So. Cal's dog-related organizations that help make life better for our communities.  Organizations such as these rely, in many cases, exclusively on donations from community members.  A few of my favorites are listed below.

Not in Southern California but want to donate?  Not a problem!  These So. Cal. organizations will gratefully accept donations from anywhere!  (Or, look-up your own local law enforcement agency.  Most have a related foundation either specific to the canine department, or that which supports the agency as a whole.  If the latter, be sure to note if you'd like your donation earmarked for the K9 Unit.)

CSUN Police Services K9 Unit
Checks payable to the National Police Dog Foundation with "CSUN K9 Unit" in the memo.  Mail to:
CSUN, Dept. of Police Services
C/o Captain Fernandez
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330-8290

CSUN's two dog and handler teams are awesome.  Follow the links to learn more about Ofc. Vargas and Mitch and Cpl. Finnerty and Isy.  CSUN's K9 Unit does  a great job protecting the campus and neighboring communities, and Cpl. Finnerty and Isy are often requested for special projects, as he explains in his linked interview.

Search Dog Foundation
*Currently matching donations dollar-for-dollar thru Dec. 31, 2013.
"SDF is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, California. Our mission is to strengthen disaster preparedness in America by partnering rescued dogs with firefighters to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The teams are provided at no cost to fire departments and other emergency service agencies throughout the country."

Los Angeles County Police Canine Association

"The LACPCA is an organization that promotes the educational advancement, welfare, and safety of Canine teams in law enforcement."

Ventura County Sheriff's K9 Search and Rescue
Provides highly trained and tested volunteer handlers who assist local, state and federal agencies in the search for lost or mission persons.

Guide Dogs of America
Based in Sylmar, GDA "provides guide dogs and instruction in their use, free of charge, to blind and visually impaired men and women from the United States and Canada.  Click here for a short video highlighting the role of volunteer puppy raisers and the impact a trained dog has on the life of his partner.

There are lots of great dog-realted organizations out there.  What's your favorite group, and why?  Post a comment to let us know!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Most Incredible Gift...

I am blessed to know these amazing people.
Earlier this summer, an amazing thing happened.  My wonderful friends rallied together to raise the whopping $5,000 necessary to sponsor a puppy-in-training with Guide Dogs of America in memory of my sweet Quiz.

It's a lovely tribute to an amazing dog, and I am touched beyond belief by everyone's generosity.  The years I spent in partnership with Quiz changed my life in many ways, and it's an honor to think of a future pup, his namesake, growing up and ultimately helping to change the life of someone who is blind or visually impaired.

Click to Enlarge.
We have yet to meet this Quiz, who we've decided to refer to as "Q2," but I've been in contact with Guide Dogs of America and they expect to identify and place our sponsored pup within the next couple of months.  As the pup's sponsor, we'll get regular updates from the puppy raisers ... very exciting!  I'm hoping the puppy raiser lives close enough that we'll get to visit!  And when "Q2" goes on to complete formal guide training and leads his or her partner across that Sylmar stage, you can bet we'll be there!

Stay tuned for updates on the adventures of Q2!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The story of Quiz ... an epilogue.

This has been the Longest.  Week. Ever.

I am heartbroken over the loss of this truly amazing dog.  At the same time, I'm am truly amazed by the tremendous outpouring of support.  I am touched beyond belief to hear how many people enjoyed my dog and found pleasure in watching the two of us work together.  We shared an amazing bond.

Now begins the long process of adjusting to life without Quiz and settling into a new "normal" as time begins to heal the hurt in my heart.

In following up with the specialty clinic, I've learned that the staff is reviewing the incident and trying to determine how best to modify surgical protocol so that a similar medication error does not happen again.  I am told it was an experienced tech who made the mistake, and so far, the office has no definitive explanation for *how* the mistake happened.

I did learn, however, that upon reviewing his case, the medical director said she'd have been very, very surprised if the mass had not been cancerous.

I, of course, knew that was a strong possibility.  Cancer, specifically the Big "H," is exactly why my heart sank the night before in my regular vet's office as we looked at the mass on an x-ray.

All I can think at this point - in an effort to find a bit of peace - is that it *was* cancer, and that somehow, this horrible, tragic, unexplainable mistake happened to spare my sweet, amazing, vibrant dog from a devastating diagnosis.  For Quiz, having his body deteriorate when his spirit would've remained strong would've been a fate worse than death.  And watching it happen - only to have to make the difficult decision of when to free him from that prison - would've been gut-wrenching.

With this in my mind, I can be thankful that Quiz spent his last weekend on earth blissfully playing at our dear friends' house while I was out of town, and for how he ran around the vet's office bouncy and silly and offering up one of his most popular tricks ... chasing *and catching* his tail.  He may have had cancer, but cancer, at that point, did not have him.

It's funny how your mind begins to remember things in the wake of a tragedy.  The night before surgery, as I tried to sleep with him beside me, I told him two things: That it was OK if he really  needed to go, but that if he wasn't ready, I knew he'd find a way to stay with us; and I promised I'd never make him suffer just to prolong his time here on earth.

At the risk of sounding like the "crazy dog lady," I have to believe that his body may well have survived the surgery if not for the overdose, but with cancer's insidious grip lurking in the wings, the overdose somehow happened to spare my sweet boy - and everyone who loved him - that heartache.

Crazy as it sounds, it's the only explanation that makes even the smallest bit of sense.


A few of my favorite Quiz videos...

Yup.  That's Quiz!

Such a fun partner in the ring.

Gotta love that zest for life!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The life and loss of Quiz...

Click Photo to Enlarge
I've had to work up to this post.

As most of you know, I lost my Sweet Quiz last week.  He was diagnosed with a large mass in his abdomen, thought to be on his spleen, and he went in for surgery.  Though the mass was tremendously large, pre-op x-rays showed his heart and lungs were clear.  He was still in great spirits... running around the exam room, playing with the surgeon and spontaneously offering his "get your tail" trick.  To me, he was at about 75 percent, but 75 percent of Quiz was still a lot of dog... even at 9 years old.

While I knew there was a chance it would be cancer, I left the surgeon's office feeling incredibly optimistic that not only would my boy pull through, but that he'd continue to live out the greater part of his life.

What I haven't shared publicly, until now, is that while in surgery, he was inadvertently given "a significant overdose" of Lidocaine to address a series of non-critical arrhythmias.  Immediately following the overdose, he went into cardiac arrest from which, despite CPR, he did not recover.

I am absolutely gutted over the loss of this dog, and with how it happened.  I feel like he had more than a fighting chance to get through surgery, but was robbed.  It was less than 24 hours from the time I took him to my vet to discover the mass to the time of his passing at the specialist's office.

Quiz was the dog of a lifetime.  The outpouring of support I've received from friends, family and my family of friends has been overwhelming.  Even people we never met are commenting on Facebook or other social media platforms to say how much they enjoyed pics and videos of Quiz, and how evident it was that we shared an amazing bond.  I had no idea that Little Red Dog had weaved his way into the hearts of so many.  I am immensely proud of him for that.

People talk about having a "heart dog" and Quiz was that dog 10 times over.  He always did whatever I asked of him ... and did so with an endless wag of his tail, a grin on his face and joy in his heart.  And then he did it again - because if doing something once was good, doing it 10 times was even better!  He was a gamer for sure.  I always remember Steve White saying, "I could've made him an awesome detection dog," and I'm sure he would've been.  He was awesome at everything he tried ... obedience, rally, agility, field work, dock jumping ... even the crazy working trials we did years ago.  And oh how he loved to snuggle at home.  I'll miss that the most.

There are so many things I, and others, dearly loved about him.  If you were around him often, you likely encountered his patented "jump up and tongue you" maneuver, wherein he'd spring straight up in front of you without making contact.  Of course, this would make you laugh, and he'd seize the opportunity to launch his tongue right into your mouth.

That dog had stamina for training like no other.  Boy did he love to work.  He taught me a lot in our training journey together... and he forgave me endless training mistakes and even the moments where I became frustrated and expected him to compensate for my training mistakes.  There were plenty of times when I frustrated him.  He had a very specific bark that let me know.

My absolute favorite thing about Quiz is simply how much I enjoyed him ... how much we enjoyed each other.  THAT is the message I want to share with others.  Enjoy your dog.  No matter what sport you compete in or what behavioral challenges you might face, live your life with your dog in ways that allow you to enjoy each other, even if it changes what you end up doing together.  If you participate in dog sports, aim for high scores if that's who you are, but in your quest for near-perfection, please don't forget to enjoy your dog.  Maybe it's because, over the past 18 months, I've not had as much time for training (having returned to graduate school), but I found myself really focusing on this idea... Enjoy your dog.  And for doG sake, train every session and run every ring like it's your last, because you never know when it might be.

I'm heading up the coast in two weeks to run a dog training camp on the beach.  That was one of Quiz' favorite times of the year.  He was at his bliss point chasing toys into the surf.  I plan to scatter some of his ashes while I'm there.  I'll be with some of his favorite people and dogs.  It will be a fitting send-off for his physical self.

It's difficult to have shared this ugly detail, but I needed my (and Quiz') army of supporters to know the whole story.  For the moment, I'm strangely thankful for the ball of anger this information presents, because I'm not sure I'd be able to handle the straight grief.  Processing the grief through a filter of anger might just be the buffer I need.

As for the specialty group, all I can say is that the staff has done everything right in the aftermath of this horrible mistake.  The surgeon told me they will launch a full review of the incident to determine what systematic changes need to be made so that this never happens again.  I will follow up until I am satisfied - Quiz can count on that.  You sometimes hear of tragic mistakes in veterinary medicine where the office fails to take responsibility, etc.  I do not feel that is the case here.  I have tremendous respect for the surgeon for disclosing what happened and, while it doesn't excuse the mistake, nor does it bring my dog back, it makes me believe they are doing everything possible to make sure the loss of sweet Quiz will not be in vain.  While I am angry, it serves me no purpose to feel vengeful, and I aspire to pursue this with grace in my heart.  Please respect that.

Thank you all for your love and support.  I will no doubt be leaning on you greatly in the days and weeks to come.

Run fast and free, Sweet Quiz.  You may have been Tanbark's Number Two Pencil, but to all of us, you were clearly Number One!

Edited to Add: Click here for The Story of Quiz... an Epilogue.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

FUN Training Walk to Benefit DEAF Project!

Sunday, Feb. 10 * 10:30 a.m.
Downtown Burbank, CA.
Minimum Donation of $25 per dog.

It's dog PAWS for a CAUSE!

Lace up your walking shoes, leash up your dog, gather your training treats and toys and get ready for a fun morning of training!

Throughout this one-hour training walk, we'll practice loose-leash walking, sitting politely for petting, quick name response, fun tricks and much more.  AND - we'll do it all while simultaneously working on attention and focus around distractions as we take advantage of Downtown Burbank's busy backdrop.  It's a great training and urban socialization experience for your dog, with the added benefit of the "warm fuzzies" that come with knowing your ENTIRE enrollment fee (minus minimal PayPal service fees) will benefit the Deaf Education And Families Project.  (Online registration, below.)  Exact meeting location will be emailed to the address associated with your PayPal account.  Due to the charitable nature of this event, refunds are not available.

What is DEAF Project?
The Deaf Education And Families Project (DEAF Project) is a non-profit organization that empowers families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing through outreach and education.  Regular activities help parents realize the positive lifetime journey of bonding with and raising a deaf or hard-of-hearing child versus struggling with how to "fix" a "disabled" child -- while learning how to successfully advocate for their children's emotional and educational needs.  The organization utilizes parent mentors, who themselves are raising DHH kids, to offer invaluable experience and emotional support to fellow parents and families.  DEAF Project also conducts three free, weekly American Sign Language classes for families.  Ninety-five percent of DHH children are born to hearing families, many of whom have never met someone who is deaf or hard of hearing.  These classes play a critical role in enhancing communication between the family and the DHH child.

  • Registration is reserved for dogs with whom I've personally worked, either professionally or recreationally.  VHOC and other area dog club members (with appropriate dogs) are also encouraged to participate.
  • Participating dogs should be at an intermediate or advanced skill level. 
Submission of payment assumes participant's acknowledgement and acceptance of the following:

I hereby release Stephanie Colman/Caninestein Dog Training, and any person acting on her behalf or at her request, from all liability for loss, damage or injury to me, my dog or my guests, and agree to hold harmless from all liability, damage, cost or expense (including all attorney fees) arising out of any claim, demand or action based upon any occurrence concerning myself, my guests or my dog.  I understand that I alone am responsible for my dog's behavior, and that I assume full liability for my dog's actions.  Further, I understand that, based on my dog's behavior at any given time, I may be asked to remove my dog from some or all of the training walk, and in such case, no portion of my pre-paid donation will be refunded to me.

Donation Amount

If you are unable to attend the walk, but would still like to support DEAF Project, please click here to make a separate donation.

Thank You for Your Support!
We look forward to a fun training adventure!