I can’t believe we are wrapping up 2019! The year has absolutely flown by, seriously. It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the beginning of the year and here we are at the end. Like every year, there’s been lots of ups and downs, highs and lows. The fact that I’m only awake for like 6 hours a day definitely didn’t help with the feeling of the year going by so quickly! Health-wise, I went through some rough periods but have been blessed to not need to be in the hospital. All in all, I had some great successes with River, have new lessons learned, made & grew some new friendships, had some firsts, and gave and received lots of love and joy! I thought I’d share a little recap of some points of our year, to share with you all & to have in our memories to remember 2019. Here we go…
River & I did lots of public access outings & training session. River improved a lot in his tasking and just general obedience and skills! He expanded his knowledge and learned many new things.
We became members of Our Dog’s Gym on the west side and started doing Rally Obedience, a dog sport based on teamwork. We’ve also played around with some agility equipment and River had lots of fun, especially bouncing over jumps
Got out first Bad Tags order that we now are addicted to and have quite the expansive collection! Our groomer introduced us and River loves them to make a fashion statement.
River and I hung out with lots of his puppy friends: Kiera Rose, Darwin, Lucy, Charlie, Hush, Bird, Jade, Malin, Mia, Rosa, & Toby, and possibly more I can’t quite remember. I got to visit with lots of human friends too! Luckily many have dogs so it’s a win-win for the both of us!
We helped teach many puppy classes with our great trainer Lisa! Through teaching classes, I have developed an even bigger passion for working with dogs and have the chance to learn a lot while also getting to learn to teach and troubleshoot issues with training. It’s great practice for River working around other dogs. We’ve met lots of new people and dogs and have grown as a team working together in this scenario. Big thank you to Lisa @ K9 Connection Dog Training.
I was chosen by a very talented knitting designer to be a test knitter for a new pattern she was releasing; the Sanguine Sweater by Morgan Woltersdorf! It was my first opportunity to test knit and I really enjoyed it. It’s great to be able to help find mistakes or give suggestions and put my little touch on a design, helping bring it to life.
Since we were interested in doing Rally O and thinking of competing, I brought River to his first fun match with the Kennebecasis Obedience Club! We had lots of fun watching the talented handlers & dogs. I was so proud of River with how well behaved he was working with so many dogs in the space.
Started and finished his very first trick dog level earning him his Novice Trick Dog (NTD) title through Do More With Your Dog. Excitingly, the organization is now partnered with the Canadian Kennel Club so River’s trick titles will be official CKC titles! Thanks to our online team trainer Kim for all her help and answering my endless questions throughout each level.
A bit over a month after earning his first trick dog title, we finished his second level, Intermediate Trick Dog (ITD). I couldn’t find a picture of him with his certificate but these two keychains represent his two first trick titles. ⠀
Despite me dealing with a line infection for a few weeks and we hadn’t been training, I brought River to watch the Canine Good Neighbour testing so we would be prepared for the next test. At the last minute, I decided to do it with him and give it a try, not expecting much. The CGN is a 12 part test for dogs that evaluates good manners both at home and in public to raise a great companion dog. It’s a great program for any dog owner to work through, building up essential skills for a great puppy. Fortunately, River did awesome and passed, earning his CGN title along with some of his other puppy friends.⠀
In order to get some more freedom outdoors and help me save energy, I finally agreed to my OT’s encouragement to try out a power chair. Thought I was hesitant, it ended up being a good choice because it has allowed me more independence when out and about. River had to learned to work beside the power chair since it’s different than my typical chair but he did really well. He picked it up so quickly; he’s a natural service dog!
After a few more months of hard work, River and I tested and passed his Advanced Trick Dog level (ATD), upgrading his trick titles once again!
We spent a lot of time outdoors going for walks and “hikes” at some of our favourite places; around the neighbourhood, the trail around the Little River Reservoir (the Rez), the harbour passage along the water uptown, and Rockwood Park. River loves to explore the outdoors and has a ton of fun hiking, especially getting to sniff all the new smells wherever we are exploring! Thankfully, he has abled-bodies grandparents and an auntie to bring him places that I can’t access.
River got lots of very adorable haircuts thanks to our amazing groomer Amy from Style & Grace grooming but my favourite of all was when we tried him in a mama style clip with the bracelets on his legs! He looked way too handsome! Unfortunately, it is too hard to maintain all year round but I will definitely be getting him done in this clip again.
To celebrate Mother’s Day (yes I’m a mom, I’m a dog mom which is definitely a real mom!). we went uptown to explore, do some training, and play “tourist” in our city. River and I had a really fun time out and about and his paw-père was an awesome paparazzi, getting us lots of cute memories!
An artist I had been following for a couple years, Aja Trier, was taking photo submissions of dogs to paint for her Van Gogh “Starry Night” inspired series of paintings. I submitted River and was so happy when he was chosen to be one of her subjects! I received a print of the painting as a thank you for letting her use River’s photo but then my dad surprised me by buying me the actual painting. The artist did a fantastic job and this is now one of my most prized possession. A few weeks later, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website My Modern Met wrote an article on the painter and River’s painting was included in the article!
I was commissioned to knit this beautiful sweater for a friend of mine who also has EDS like me. Dani chose this beautiful fall coloured palette for her modern fair-isle sweater. The pattern is the “Second Grace” sweater by Bristol Ivy.
I finished a class towards my bachelor’s degree, Biological Psychology, online through Athabasca University with an A+ . I really enjoyed this class! Afterwards, I then started my next class, History of Psychology, which is a little less up my alley but is needed as a psychology major! (I have no pictures related to school so enjoy a beach picture!)
Over the last several months, we worked on learning 5 expert levels tricks and perfecting them. This earned River his Expert Trick Dog (ETD), the last level before the Trick Dog Champion test which encompasses all types of different skills learned during the each level.
River & I were invited to a good friend from high school’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and River did so great for it being his first one! I ended up having two dates to the wedding, River and my dad. It was such a blessing to be witness to such a special day for Julie & Eli. ⠀
During the summer months, we spent a lot of time relaxing by the pool! River & I hung out on the deck while my parents were floating around. He enjoys pool afternoons a lot, especially getting to be the lifeguard and watching everyone swim around.
Since we signed up to do our first dog show, we did lots of Rally O training in all different locations (the mall, church parking lots, the mall parking lot, etc.) to expose River to different things and get him used to working in new locations with new distractions. Luckily, we love Rally, hence why we do it, so this was a fun highlight of the summer! It was a great way to spend more time outdoors non the evenings once it was cooler while also doing lots of learning. (In the top right photo, River is wearing his cooling vest to keep him comfortable in the heat.)
We made quite a few trips to our favourite beach, the duck pond! It is mine & River’s favourite place in the world. We went a couple times with my parents, with my friends and their puppies, and with my aunt & uncle, Yvette & Jean-Guy, and their dog Mia. River absolutely loves running around in the sand, jumping waves, and chasing rocks into the water. His absolute favourite though is rolling around in the seaweed. It didn’t make him smell great but he has fun doing it!
I had an appointment in the Shediac area and River came with so we decided to bring him to meet the giant lobster for the first time. He was so adventurous climbing right up there! There was two or three tour buses there so a lot of people buzzing around. Everyone thought River was quite adorable sitting up on the lobster so he ended up having a bit of a paparazzi.
You know the wedding I mentioned earlier in the post, I wanted to crochet them an afghan as a wedding gift but it definitely took longer than anticipated but my friends absolutely loved it! It is such a gorgeous and detailed pattern, unlike anything I’ve made before, so it kept me very engaged throughout the time I spent working on it. This pattern is called “Sophie’s Universe” by Dedri Uys. It was a project I had on my “to make” list for a long time and I was happy to finally make it for some people I love. Obviously, River had to do his job as quality control officer and test it out.
At the end of August, the culmination of all our hard work training in Rally Obedience came together and we competed in our first dog show! We had a blast! It was so much fun competing and being in the show ring and we met lots of amazing and supportive people and judges. We took home two 2nd places and one 3rd place in the novice level rally. So many of my friend came out to support me that weekend and it’s definitely a favourite memory of the year. I wrote a full blog post about it here.
Since River got 3 qualifying scores over the dog show weekend, it earned him his first rally title, his Rally Novice (RN). We went out there just hoping to get some practice working in a new environment with so many dogs around and to have lots of fun. Earning a title was icing on top of the cake of a great weekend!
One of mine and River’s service dog team friends, Cassie and Nimbus, live in Florida and go to Disney all the time to train. If you didn’t know, I love Disney and have been dreaming of going back since I’ve got sick. Cassie was nice enough to pick up matching shirts for River and I that I wanted but couldn’t get online and they surprised us with a pair of Mickey ears for little Riv, his first Mickey ears! Surprisingly, he didn’t mind wearing them at all.⠀
2019 was the year of knit socks! I knit many pairs of socks, a pair for myself, some as commissions for people, and some as gifts for friends and loved ones. I learned to knit again several years ago years ago after not knitting since like middle school because I wanted to learn to knit socks. A couple years later, I am now a pro sock knitter. Here’s just a few pairs I knit. Obviously, purples/pinks/reds were a popular colour scheme this year.
It’s no surprise that fall is my favourite season of the year. It happens to be the season of both mine and my mom’s birthdays but I just love everything about it; the pretty foliage and coloured leaves, the cooler days, the little crispness in the air, fall colours & outfits, autumn is just the best. We made sure to try and enjoy as much of the season as I could even though I didn’t feel great for much of it. We went for some beautiful walks, played in the leaves at a park, and took lots of adorable photos! Our day playing in the leaves at the park is one of my highlights of the tear.
I wasn’t feeling up to doing much to celebrate my birthday so we decided to go for a little drive on the Kingston Peninsula to go foliage peeping. We took the ferry over and back and it was River’s first time on a ferry! He enjoyed the drive as much as I did I think. We got out of the car while waiting for the ferry to take some photos. Later in the day, my grandparents came over for a little birthday visit. Once I was feeling better, my friend Stacey and I had a shopping day at the mall and got our nails done to celebrate both of our birthdays since hers is in October too.
River’s nana picked him out an adorable halloween costume at Pet Smart for him to dress up as a bumble bee. He looked way too adorable with his costume on! The wings, antenna, and stinger even light up! I had an appointment at the hospital on Halloween so River went to work dressed up as a bee. He made lots of people smile with his cuteness!
On October 31st, I celebrated my three year TPN-iversary,. This represented 3 years since starting on this treatment of intravenous nutrition that basically saved my life. On that day three years ago, I was in a bad and scary state. I had been in the hospital for a couple weeks because of the poor state my body was in. I was very underweight and was still losing, my blood work was a mess, I was weak and cachexic. 3 years later, I’m still a bit malnourished and not at my goal weight yet but my body is in a much better state than it was. Not only has it changed my body but it’s given me the nutrition we all need to survive. Without, TPN, I honestly don’t know if i’d be here today celebrating this new decade with all these great memories and accomplishments of the last few years. (These photos are old but didn’t have any new related ones)
This year was a federal election year, the first since River has been with us, so he got to go vote for the first time federally! He did awesome in the busy squishy area. It was a new experience for the both of us because the polling station was upstairs in a church and they just had one of those small, open elevators. In order to fit me & my chair, River, and an attendant, River had to stand with his paws up on my lap like in the first picture. Riding in an open elevator was kinda freaky but Riv didn’t mind. He’s such a rockstar!⠀
I discovered this small business on instagram that makes lovely dog collars, leashes, and harnesses out of biothane, a waterproof faux leather type material that’s super tough and comes in lots of colours. I ordered him this white collar and teal longline with this beautiful holographic/rainbow hardware. We loved them so when the opportunity arose, we applied and were chose and brand reps on instagram for this canadian small business, Little Orange Dog Co.! This was such a great opportunity for us. If you’re interested in purchasing, you can use our code RIVER10 for 10% off.
I may have lied a little bit when I said fall is my favourite season, I think I love Christmas just as much! To get into the holiday spirit, we went to Rhoda’s Christmas Market. It was both mine and River’s first time going! There was quite a crowd but River handled it like a pro. We did a bit of shopping and got to see my friend Stacey and her family as well as my cousins Harley & Sue.
My friend Stacey and I had a little christmas get-together at the mall to celebrate the season and exchange gifts! We got our nails done which we like to do together every month or so for some self-care and did a bit of shopping before exchanging gifts. We had a really fun day! What made it even better was River came with me, our first solo outing together (without my parents)! For optimal safety for me and River, we’ve been taking things slow when it comes to public access on our own but we’ve been working towards going solo and it was such a proud moment to be able to do this together like a true service dog team. He was amazing with the Friday-before-Christmas chaos and unbelievingly patient while we were getting our nails done too, just sat and watched the going-ons in the spa.
Since River’s birthday was on Christmas Eve, December 24th, we celebrated his’s 2nd birthday early. We booked at play date at the gym with one of River’s puppy friends Charlie. They had lots of fun bouncing over jumps, running through tunnels, and romping and playing with each other. After the gym, I brought River to Pet Smart and let him pick out a couple toys (luckily they were buy one get one so he got spoiled) and some peanut butter cookie treats. Lastly, we stopped at Starbucks and bought Rivy his first puppacino. It was definitely a birthday for the books!
We celebrated his 3rd and best Christmas, my favourite holiday! We did things a bit differently this year but it was great & a lot easier for me. Christmas Eve we spent at my grandparents for dinner with them and my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We had a great time and wore our matrhching Christmas sweaters! Christmas Day was celebrated with just my parents, sister, and River. We had fun opening gifts with Christmas movie on in the background and the fam enjoyed their unconventional taco supper. In the evening, we all had stayed in our christmas pjs and watched a movie. Boxing Day we had our real Christmas with my grandparents. We wore our matching sweaters again because we forgot to take photos. All in all a great holiday.
For our last Christmas activity of the season, we went to go see the Christmas lights at the Arts & Culture park in Quispamsis! We went last year and really enjoyed it so we made a tradition of it and went again. It was so beautiful! River had so much fun; he loves lights so much and was just in awe. His improvement from last year to this year behaviour/obedience wise was amazing. There was lots of other dogs there barking and kids yelling and just a lot of people but he navigated everything like a pro.