She is no prissy princess. She leads with her tail, and when it get’s going, she has a hard time walking straight. This girl is a BIG personality, with a zest for life. She goes head first into everything. No, really. That’s why she has the tell tail white whiskers between her eyes. Old battle wounds from chasing a ball into a palm tree:)
Raven is a beauty. She looks similar to Major, but they have a couple of differences. Raven is a little taller and has a thicker coat. She also has a brown/red undercoat which you can see in the sun, or when she is next to Major outside. She is also a black Labrador like Major, and 1 month younger. She just turned 3 on January 5th (coincidentally, that was the day she became a permanent fixture at our house) . She has these 4 white spots, 1 above each foot on the back of her legs. I’ve been trying to capture them, but so far, this is as close as I’ve gotten, she is the dog closest to the camera:
Here you can see the slight coloration difference in the coats. I’ll let you figure out who is who 😉
So why do we have Raven? We covered that here somewhat. Initially, we “borrowed” Raven in an effort to train Major for over night alerting. We thought if Major saw someone else doing it, and getting rewarded, it would create a little competition. Raven has been in and out of the DAD program for awhile. Like Major, she has some issues too, that are really only issues when you consider her a service dog.
Raven has been a hard dog to place in a home as a primary service dog as she gets territorial over her space. That makes it tough for her to go with someone to a workplace or a school. She also tends to be “barky” at noises like door bells and people walking around outside. And all though she is amazingly obedient on leash, public access work is not her strong suit. But she is a great alerter at night, and she also alerts in the car.
We brought Raven into our house in the beginning of December, so we have only really had her for 2.5 months. We are still learning a lot about each other. It took us a while to fine tune our night alerting system. She was with us for 3 weeks before we got our first night alert, but with a lot of help from Tracy and Crystal at Canine Hope, we came up with a solution that is working very well for us, and now we have our night shift dog!
Raven is a great alerter at home. She is what’s known as a “persistent” alerter, meaning she will come back and remind you that the diabetic is still high or low every 20-30 minutes. Sometimes, if the BS level is extreme, or the drop is rapid, she will alert more often. She also is much more comfortable using the traditional “Bringsel”, an alerting baton that we wear on our belts and have all over the house.
Raven had been off the radar, so to speak, because of her “issues”, and Crystal was really torn. Raven is a sweetheart, a great dog, and a strong alerter. But because she couldn’t really be placed anywhere, I think there was some debate about re-purposing her, which could have meant she could be a field trial dog, possibly search and rescue, or worst case, an amazing pet for someone. But because we already have a dog that does all of the things that Raven is weak at, and Raven does all of the things Major is weak at, we were very happy that we were able to keep a Diabetic Alert Dog proudly working and doing something she’s good at, and not having to ask her to do things that may stress her out.
Now, we still take Raven out and about with us. Her issues seem to appear most when she gets comfortable at a place (like the same office or classroom everyday) but not at a restaurant or amusement park, so you will still see her out and about.
Raven is also a girl that loves to retrieve ANYTHING that you throw into some water. But her favorite is her Water Wubba, again, this dog goes first, and then asks questions 🙂
Raven also runs with Major and I, all though I limit her to 5-6 miles every other day, and she has to run in the morning so she has plenty of time to rest before the night shift. If she is exhausted from exercise, or from a day out at someplace like the aquarium or an amusement park, just like any other dog, you can’t expect them to be up all night and alerting. I will again mention, the responsibility for taking care of our daughter is OUR job. The dogs are here to help us, as early warning systems and back up. So, we know that when we take them out for a day with the family, or a hard day of playing at the lake, that we must be ready to cover their shift that night.
Raven loves to go hiking, swimming, running, and retrieving. She loves long walks on the beach, smooth jazz, and candle light dinners (just seeing if your paying attention).
My wife and I are also using Raven a little differently then we use Major. Major spends as much time with my daughter as possible, and sleeps with her on her bed. Raven spends the majority of her time with us, so at night when there is an issue, we are the Go-To people.
Where Major is very “zen” like, Raven is much more brass. The louder the kids get, the better. She is often right in the middle of the action. She is a take charge dog, she is very smart, and she can also be very stubborn. When on leash, she is amazing. When she is off leash, “stay” and “down” can sometimes be a battle of wills 🙂
Raven is also a goofball. As mentioned earlier, she is a persistent alerter, and she has been known to bring us every bringsel in the house. We have been known to have to hide them when we are having a high BS issue that we think may last awhile. In that case, Raven gets creative, and has been known to bring us stuffed animals, socks, plastic Easter eggs, or similar looking things. But last night, the only thing I didn’t pick up was something Stella got from a classmate for Valentine’s day. Yes, those are red plastic kazoo lips, and that picture is exactly how she brought it to me.
She also can move her eyes independently, has VERY expressive eyebrows, and will wink at you 😉
Raven fits in amazingly well at our house, And my wife couldn’t be more thrilled that she has her night alerter. The kids love her, and she get’s along perfectly with Major. Again, they complete the circle. Another huge thank you to Crystal, Johanna, Stefanie, Ashley, Tracy, and everyone else associated with Canine Hope for Diabetics for all they do to get these dogs ready, and find perfect situations for each animal. It’s a tremendous amount of work and responsibility. We are so glad that we have been given an opportunity to keep Raven working, and we love that she is helping us keep an eye on our family.
Now, for my advanced students, tell me in the comments which dog is which in the picture below. To make it tough, I did it in black and white 🙂