Wild Kingdom

What happens when Seva’s big brother comes for a visit? Pandemonium!


Seva and Percy

Seva and Percy


This is Percy on the right. He’s two-years-old. He and Seva are both from Lola litters, so he’s Seva’s half-brother.


This is how they got acquainted on their first night together.


Seva is the instigator. Percy is the growler.


Seva is still the fastest dog around!

Seva is still the fastest pup around.

Seva is still the fastest pup around.


And nobody gets to a ball faster!

Look out ball, here comes Seva!

Look out ball, here comes Seva!


There is one race that Percy wins every time!


Having Percy with us for a few days has confirmed what we always suspected: Seva is a little butt-kicker. She’s happiest when she’s rough-housing and doesn’t know when to stop. Percy’s just a big lap dog, happy to have his chin in somebody’s lap, but then Seva jumps on him and chews his face. Seriously, she’s the trouble-maker.


Seva the kangaroo

Seva the kangaroo


This is why I call Seva a kangaroo. This dog loves to catch air!





A Tail of Woe

Last Friday Seva was spayed, so for the past week she’s been mostly confined to the house. I put away all of her balls, blocked the stairs, and forbid anyone excite her, never mind wrestle with her.

This poor puppy. It’s very hard.

The day of the surgery, I picked her up from Oak Knoll Animal Hospital. We love our vets, but it’ll be best if she doesn’t remember this visit–and I’m sure she won’t thanks to the anesthesia! She wagged her tail a little, then sprawled on the floor. After a lot of coaxing, I got her out the door and halfway to the car, then she lay down on the sidewalk. After more coaxing I got her to the car and she hopped inside as soon as the door was open. There was no way I was going to get her in the back seat, so she rode home in the footwell in the front, snoring all the way. She conked out in the snow beside our driveway, too. I think it took us half an hour to get home with all the naps between the vet and the house!


Seva coming home


Last night Scott sat on the floor and she climbed on him, put her face in his, and grabbed his hand in her mouth to nibble on it. These were all clear invitations to play, and all Scott could do was sit there and laugh sympathetically.

This morning, Seva was feeling really good, romping around the kitchen and dining room, so I opened the hallway to her. Little did I know, at the end of the hallway was an open door. Long story short: she swallowed one of the kid’s socks.

We didn’t know for sure, even after sticking my fingers down her throat and doing a sock count in the kid’s room. Just to be safe, I force-fed her 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and waited.**

She barfed 7 times. The sock came up in round 4. ICK!

Our morning started out so good, too!


I can’t believe you made me swallow that!


The Wonder Dog is not having a very good week, but it has to get better from here!


** It’s 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide / 10 pounds of dog.

It’s Her Birthday!

March 19, 2013

The Birthday Girl


Seva is one today!

We celebrated her birthday with song and dance. (Okay, we didn’t really dance, but sometimes when we play, we run through the house and Seva jumps and it’s kind of like a dance.)


I can eat that.


Seva got a present, just like all good puppies should. She had to Drop and Wait until I said Release. Release was her cue that she could tear open her present.


Seva Opens Her Present


It wouldn’t be a party without a clown and a photographer! I guess I was the clown. I knocked over Seva’s bowl of Joe’s Os (her favorite treat) and it was pandemonium for a while. Scott was the photographer, as usual, and we played and played and played with Seva’s new balls!


Here Comes the Ball


Got It!


Seva’s deep concentration would blow you away.




After lots of catch, she got a bowl of her favorite food, Cheesy Rice.


And that, my friends, is how you celebrate a puppy’s first birthday!



Seva had a big day today. Vet appointment at 8:30 a.m. I was told to bring her in with a full bladder, and I did.

These things are bound to happen. It was just a matter of time. Really.

When we finished at the vet, I took Seva into some wood chips to “do her business.” She did. I’m sure it was a relief to pee after all that time. Then we headed over to Knollwood Mall to do some indoor training.

Knollwood has a nice hallway without any real stores off it where you find tables, the restrooms, and an exit to a back lot. This is where we went, down the hallway, past the tables, and to a bench. I showed her kibble and we worked on Watch.

In just moments, Seva was distracted beyond distracted. She wouldn’t take a kibble if it was right under her nose, which it was. She gets like this, and typically a change of scenery or trying a new skill will bring her back to me. Not today.

She looked antsy. Then those hind legs started to spread and the tail curved away from the body. “No no no no no no no no!” I jumped up off the bench and ran for the door, Seva in tow. We got outside and I scanned the parking lot–where can we go? Ah ha! A median covered in wood chips covered in snow. We ran across the lot to the median and she wasted no time in dropping a large turd.

I dutifully bagged it and put it in the outdoor can at the mall entrance–because I’m considerate that way–thinking Boy, that was close!

Inside again, I noticed a janitor walking toward a storage room, a frown creasing his face. I looked further down the hallway and saw another janitor standing off to the side holding a long pole, also looking unhappy. Then I saw a chair positioned over a turd. It was nicely formed and about 3″ long. When you bag poo every day–as any dog person will tell you–shape and consistency matter. I don’t think the janitors were fully appreciating this turd.

I took a new baggie out of Seva’s pack. She carries her own poop bags–because she’s considerate that way. And we carried the poop to the outdoor can, then came in to resume training.

With both a healthy pee and poop out of the way, she would surely be able to concentrate on her work. We went deeper into the mall, because really, why would we want to hang around where she’d just done her business? We joined the senior mall walkers, looked at a bright store display, growled at a kiosk that was still draped with a tarp, and all was fine until it wasn’t.

Seva started acting all twitchy again. Forget it, I thought, this is not any way to train. So we went back to the tables where I’d left my coat. I had barely lifted it off the chair when Seva went into a squat!

Out popped a turd–I saw this one–and we ran for the door AGAIN. This time we knew right where to go and she dropped another big pile.

I used my last baggie on this one, so I grabbed a bunch of paper towels from the ladies’ room on our way inside. I picked up the turd and collected my coat, Seva’s leash around my wrist.

As I turned to leave, one of the mall walkers, an older gentlemen, called out, “Wait! I just wanted to tell you that my niece has one of these dogs. One of these exact dogs.”

1. I’m a polite person. “Oh, that’s great.”

“She’s paralyzed from the waist down.”

2. When we’re training in public we are ambassadors for Helping Paws and service dogs the world over. “Oh.” Not so great. “Does she have a Helping Paws dog?”

“It’s just amazing what these dogs can do with some training.”

3. I’m holding a turd in some paper towels, and it’s starting to smell. I discretely move the offensive object behind my back. “Yes, it is amazing.” You have no idea, mister!

Escaping at last, we deposited yet another poop in the outdoor can. And I have never been so glad to end a training session!


Guilty as charged.

Minnehaha Falls

On Saturday, we celebrated the gorgeous fall weather with a trip to Minnehaha Falls. Seva was a champ. She hiked a good 2 miles, went up and down stairs, met a few strangers, and had her first drinking fountain drink!

A rather dry Minnehaha Falls

One of Scott’s beautiful photos.


Me & Seva

Isn’t she smart in her blue backpack?


Seva hiking in the woods

Follow the leader.


Scott & Seva

Resting near a very dry creek.


A well-earned drink at the fountain!

This was fun. Who knew if you stand up at this gray pole you get a drink?


It’s Hard Being a Puppy

When Seva lies under a chair most of day with her chin on the floor, drooling, you know something is wrong.


Poor pup.


Seva has been sleeping a lot this past week. She’d been away from home for the first time over Labor Day weekend. The report from the puppy sitter was that she had a grand old time and there were no problems or concerns, until Sunday morning when she ate a sock.

That’s right. Seva got hold of one of their daughter’s anklets and before they could reach her, it was down her throat. They gave her a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and she vomited it up. The whole episode only took a few minutes, and all’s well that ends well, right?

We were not upset with the sitters. We were only surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. Seva has a penchant for socks, especially dirty socks.

This dog will let me riffle my fingers through her food while she eats, but she knows exactly what is forbidden fruit and then the chase is on. She locks her jaw over the snatched object and bolts until nabbed. Do you know what a dog does when it really wants to keep something away from someone else? She swallows it. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

You have no idea how many times a day I put my fingers in that dog’s mouth! My fingers and knuckles have been crunched in her teeth while I’m rummaging around her tonsils more times than I care to think about. Not to mention the saliva. (Oops, did I mention it?) Dog saliva is rather thick and slimy. It really coats. The yuck factor is high on this one.


Squirrel brains.


Recently, Seva managed to remove the ear from this squirrel and then pull out a sizable chunk of brains. The wad of stuffing is larger than it looks. Here, it’s been compacted by her attempt to swallow it. Scott held her head while I worked my fingers down her throat. Deep enough to gag her. I had teeth marks almost to my wrist. Don’t worry, we got the ear, too.

You can see why we weren’t upset with the sitters.

Seva spent the last week out of sorts. We thought being away from home and the sock incident had taken a toll on her. She was rejecting her food and lethargic. Then the diarrhea started. We thought it was probably a stomach bug. Then Sunday evening the excessive drooling started.

Uh oh.

We spent Monday morning at the vet. Xrays, stool, blood–enough said about that! Being new to this dog-mama role, I was introduced to another new term: Dietary Indiscretion. That means Seva will eat anything. A N Y T H I N G.

Sticks, grass, dirt, socks, squirrel brains, walnut husks. She must be able to smell those things. She knows right where the squirrels have left them and pulls them out of bushes, grass, leaves. For as many as I’ve pulled out of her jaws, I’m sure she’s swallowed plenty.

Seva is on three new pills and a prescription food. Already, Tuesday, she is feeling better. Happily the drooling is almost gone. Have you ever found your dog’s muzzle and chest sopping wet from drool? Or stepped in the pools of it on the floor. Yep, definite yuck factor here.

Scott and I were remarking that through all of this (going back to week two), Seva has been mellow, accepting, and downright cheerful. I am beyond tired of diet changes, medications, vulva washes, etc. etc., but I couldn’t ask for a sweeter puppy to be on the receiving end of things. And for that, I am grateful!


Nap time.




Small Dog Big Voice

Just last week, Scott was telling people that our dog never barks. Never. Or almost never.

No, she found her voice recently and we think it’s adorable when she barks because this little girl puppy has a deep growly bark. She typically barks a few times and is done.

Today, she watched the garbage truck come by and has been carrying on for over ten minutes. This is new, and despite showing her that the garbage truck is long gone, she can’t seem to settle down. The vibrations from construction behind our house don’t help any.

Now the question is: how long can I put up with Barky McBark Bark?



New Parent Panic: A Saga in Three Acts


Any parent gets to know her child’s body intimately. It goes with being responsible for a helpless being. There are diapers to change and cradle cap to grease up and the three a.m. vomit down your neck. You can’t be squeamish as a new parent. That is as true for puppies as it is for babies. This saga begins with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and ends (I hope) with vulva washing.

Ages ago, when Seva was ten weeks old—ten weeks ago really, but it feels like actual ages—she was peeing a lot, about every twenty minutes, and having more in-house accidents. I took her to the vet to check for a UTI and she was prescribed antibiotics. Simple enough.

Her ears started looking pink and bumpy. I assumed it was a heat rash since this is a spring litter and the weather was turning hot.

Toward the end of the course of antibiotics for the UTI, we went to training class and someone said she had a bump on her nose. So she did. She and her brother, Roger, had greeted each other with lots of teeth, so that was no surprise. After class she took a nap, and when I got her up to go the vet for her vaccination, she had more bumps on her nose, but Roger was nowhere to blame. By the time Dr. Smith was looking at her, she was covered in boils!


Seva, Roger, & Storm roughhousing at Helping Paws.


Instead of getting her vaccination, she got a steroid shot to clear up the “drug eruption” that had been caused by the antibiotics for the UTI.



This is our first year in this house. We don’t know about the previous owner, but we are not much for lawn maintenance. The maple seeds that covered our yard eventually gave way to dandelions, which have given way to clover. It’s not that we’re lazy, but we have children and a dog. We live in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. We love squirrels and bunnies and birds, feeding everyone we can in our little sanctuary. We had a pair of mallards that I fed by hand until Seva ran them off. One day a wild turkey passed through, and one morning Scott caught a glimpse of a fox slinking along the fence. We planted a little vegetable garden to help feed our family. Of course we do not put chemicals on our yard.

Several of our pine trees died this spring. They yellowed and branches drooped. They became an eyesore, mottling the greenery that screens us from Excelsior Boulevard. When a horticulturalist from the University of Minnesota came out to look at the trees, he said he suspected a broadleaf herbicide that, if overused, gets in the soil and poisons the trees.

Seva, like all dogs, eats grass, pushes her snout into the ground, and rolls around in dirt every chance she gets. About the time the steroid shot was wearing off, we tilled up a patch of ground to plant our vegetables. Seva tore through the yard and dove into the freshly tilled dirt, kamikaze style. And her face erupted in fresh boils.

If it looks like a zebra, smells like a zebra, sounds like a zebra, it’s probably a horse.


Puppy booty–our yard is full of fun–and poison?!

A logical evaluation of the situation led me and Scott (but mostly me) to one conclusion: we were poisoning our service dog.

Here is the evidence:

1. The lady we bought the house from had moved out before it sold and her nephew was living here. We saw his Harley Davidson lamp in the bedroom and video games in the basement. Surely she had asked him to maintain the house in exchange for rent. She said, “Put some herbicide on the grass so it looks nice.” He figured if a little is good, a lot is better. And we have nine dead trees in our yard, which, according to the University of Minnesota expert, was likely caused by the overzealous use of a broadleaf herbicide the previous year.

2. Seva eats dirt.

3. If Seva were having a drug eruption, the steroid shot would have cleared it up, but her boils got worse.

4. The boils got worse right after she buried her face in the freshly tilled garden plot.

Obviously, Seva was reacting to the poison in our dirt. And obviously, we would not be allowed to keep a dog we were poisoning every time she went out to play.

Not to mention that we had just planted a vegetable garden and we intended to feed our children homegrown food, which we now knew was poisoned.

I spent the weekend in a panic. And it was all thanks to that video-gaming, Harley-riding motorhead nephew! He had gotten carried away with the death sprayer, and I blamed him for the fact that Seva was sick and about to be placed in a new foster home!

In an email to Helping Paws, I suggested she could be reacting to something in our environment without actually laying out my evidence. If they saw it my way, Seva was gone sooner than later. Eileen, the Director, said it was probably not something in our house or yard, which made me feel a little better, but I was calculating when to tell her and the vet what I knew about our pine trees and the motorhead.


The boils puppy. They were even in her eyelids.


When I took her to the vet, Seva had boils all over her face, ears, and groin. Still, Dr. Smith went for the horse, not the zebra, and diagnosed her with Puppy Strangles. It is some kind of immune system freak-out that sometimes occurs in young puppies with no known cause, and is treated with steroids.

It seems the motorhead was off the hook and so was I.



Let me summarize the third act.

Seva began a round of oral steroids and got ointment for her boils. Things were going well, then she developed another UTI. I called the emergency clinic since it was a Saturday afternoon. When I asked if it could wait until Monday, I was told, “Just don’t let it become a kidney stone.” Oh, sure, I’m going to wait until Monday now! So, $180 and a Saturday afternoon gone just to get another round of antibiotics.

Right after this trip to the emergency clinic, she developed new spots on her groin. An internet search suggested ring worm, but it was likely a staph infection. Since she was already on antibiotics for the UTI, no further trips to the vet were required–that week.

The staph.

The boils improved, but weren’t gone, so we began a second round of oral steroids. Each round lasts five weeks—she’s got one final pill in that bottle!

When we made another trip to the vet for vaccinations, I asked the vet to take a look at her girly bits, the vulvar folds actually. They had these tiny black dots all over them. It turns out, Seva has a bacterial infection there, and in her right ear as well.

I also told the vet that she was itching like crazy all over. Seva then obliged us with a demonstration by doing laps around the little room, rubbing her shoulder and side along the walls the entire way.

I left the vet with ear ointment, a vulva wash, medicated shampoo, and another round of antibiotics!

The steroids she has been on for ten weeks suppress the immune system, making her more susceptible to all these various infections.

The new parent panic has subsided. We are not poisoning our service dog! And as Act III draws to a close, Seva is finishing up the steroids, but the vulvar washes continue. And the ear ointment. And the medicated baths. So, if you want to know what I’ll be doing on Friday night, see above!

“Your Smurf village is not safe from Seva, the Wonder Pup!”





Taking Home the Gold!

That’s right, folks, last night was the Helping Paws Summer Olympics! You may have seen it on the 10:00 news. 4, 5, and 11 had cameras there. Here is KSTP’s coverage, featuring Walter. WCCO covered the Puppy Swim, and you can see Seva in the blue gentle leader here! Seva competed in two events, the Puppy Swim and the Puppy Dash.

International Relations

The dogs formed 4 teams: Australia, Canada, France, and Tanzania. Here we are lining up before the Opening Ceremonies, promoting international peace amongst canines and humans. The event was a fun way for the dogs and trainers to show off their skills to their many benefactors.

Team Canada

Seva receives a pep talk before the big event from one of her more experienced teammates. “OK, kid, here’s the deal: stay in line, don’t eat things off the floor, and no matter what happens, keep that tail wagging!”

Seva’s first event was the Puppy Swim. She competed against her littermates. Each puppy took a corner and was released to race into the pool. First one with four paws in the water got the gold.

The Puppy Swim

They didn’t exactly race in. This thing? Looks like a giant water bowl. Roger, Storm, Seva, and Alta (left to right) consider the pool. After a few minutes, Storm climbed in to take the Gold! She had a blast splashing around while Seva and Roger wrestled outside the pool. Eventually, Roger put two paws in the pool and won the Silver. Seva brought home the Bronze, even though all she did is take a drink!

Storm takes the Gold!

Seva’s next event was the Puppy Dash. Now, you already know Seva is fast. You’ve seen the action shots in this blog.

Puppy Dash

Seva, Storm, and Roger race to their trainers. The judges are to my left–both human and canine because we believe in checks and balances.

Instant Replay

And we have a winner! Roger and Storm raced in the second heat for Silver and Bronze.

The Awards Ceremony

The Puppy Dash medalists: Seva on Gold, Roger on Silver, and Storm on Bronze.

Seva and me

The proud pup displays her medals and her coach!

The intrepid photographer

The man behind the camera! And behind him, a tired out puppy ready to head home.

Training for next year has already begun. Do you think there will be competitive “Shake”?


Busting With Pride

Seva got her backpack! She has been getting accustomed to it at home. Service dogs even learn to dress themselves.

1. Seva has to show interest in the pack, e.g. by nosing it. I click and treat.

2. I hold up the pack and hold the kibble out in front of it.

3. To receive her reward, Seva has to walk through the pack so the chest strap is in its proper position.


Seva models her pack.


We’ve been working with the pack for a few weeks now, and Seva will walk into it before I click. It’s as though she got bored with the intermediate step of nosing it. I hold it, she puts it on. She keeps it simple and expedites her reward!

Eventually, she’ll be able to find her pack and bring it to me. The dogs do as much of the work as possible. To get them to that point the pack has to be a wonderful thing. The other day, I was going to remove her pack and gentle leader before putting the rest of her kibble in the bowl, but she got so excited when I took out a packet of Fortiflora (digestive enzymes for dogs) that I left her gear on. Never miss an opportunity to form a positive association.


All dressed up for dinner.


Now, if you see us out and about, Seva will be dressed in her Helping Paws pack. She carries her own business cards–please ask for one!