February 13, 2006
Tomorrow is my Breeze's 7th birthday. It seems like just yesterday I got her... A lot has happened in my life since then! I am in my final year of college now and will get my bachelor's degree in sociology (with concentrations in culture studies and reconciliation) in May. Another happening in my life is that I'm married now. It was a beautiful wedding and my beautiful Golden Ilsa was the ring bearer. Ilsa was the 9th pup I raised for The Seeing Eye who didn't make the program because of bad hips and car sickness issues. She's an angel of a dog though and I've always told her she'd be in my wedding... so it was nice to fulfill that commitment. I think my in-laws thought I was crazy. :-)

Since I've been in college my pups have stayed with my parents. I am about 6 hours from them. When Mark and I graduate in May and move to which ever city we end up in for graduate school (most likely Pittsburgh or Boston - I plan on entering a PhD program to study race and economic stratification and my husband is going to get his Master's degree in mechanical engineering) we will hopefully find a large-dog friendly apartment... in which case we'll probably bring Ivy to live with us. She's nearly eleven years old now but I think she would be the one to adjust best to the change, especially apartment living. We already have two stray cats my husband took in this summer, a mouse, and a fish... but it's still not complete without a dog.

Karma, our German Shepherd, passed away in September. It happened really fast. She was eleven years old. Ivy is still going strong at 10 years old, Breeze is as energetic as ever, Ilsa is my sweet girl who I miss dearly and look forward to having her live with me eventually, and Blaze, the puppy my mom and I rescued back in 2002, is quite the bouncy girl even at 3- years-old.

I really enjoyed reading through some of the past entries on the webpage you did on me. It was a nice walk down memory lane. Thank you for your dedication to Golden Retrievers and your commitment to education.


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September 16, 2002

Here is a new letter from Vicki, college girl, shown with her four girls:

Vicki with her girls

Hello! You must have thought I fell off the face of the earth. My life has taken me to some funny places over the past year! I'm now at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA where I am majoring in Psychology and Youth Ministry. Beaver Falls is six hours away from my home and my puppies. :-(  It is a great school though and I am having a wonderful time, but unfortunately, I can only have pet fish (I have two!).

Now for a quick update on my dogs. Ilsa went back to The Seeing Eye in January. Four days after she left (she left on a Friday and I got "the call" on a Monday) I found out that she was being released due to car sickness issues and hip dysplasia. I must say that I was quite ecstatic. I wanted my baby girl back. Ilsa is one of my heart dogs. I can't quite explain why, but she is. Needless to say, Ilsa was quite happy to be home. I call home each week and talk to her on the phone. She's a mommy's girl through and though and she gets depressed if I don't call. I'll be going home to see them all on October 18th.

Hildie went back to The Seeing Eye in June (they let her stay longer so that she could walk with me in my high school graduation). From what I hear, she is still doing well in training. She turned into a great dog. Though 100% lab, I know she thought she was a Golden! Ivy is still the grandma of the house. She spends her days sleeping, going for early morning walks with my dad, and sunbathing. Ivy loves to lay in the sun. She's a funny dog. Breeze is still the same old priss. She is definitely the princess. She has my dad wrapped around her dainty little paw. And, Karma is 8 1/2 years old now. She spends her days lounged on the couch.

The newest addition to our "pack" was acquired in March. She'll be a year old in October. My mom and I went on a mission trip to West Virginia about 6 months ago, working with the poor in the Appalachia area. There are stray dogs everywhere. They called them "sooners" because they'll sooner be roadkill than anything else. :-(  So my mom and I brought two puppies home with us. :-D  I don't think my dad will ever let the two of us go on a trip by ourselves again. The one puppy was about six weeks old and had been scavenging for food for at least two weeks. He looked like an Alaskan Malamute mix. That puppy had some attitude, nothing scared him. I kept him about five weeks while I workVicki with her Masai puppyed on some training, got him his shots, etc. I than found another home for him.

The other dog, "Blaze", was actually a dog that had been hanging around the home of one of the people I was working with. He liked her a lot but couldn't afford to feed her so he asked if we could take her. She was a five month old Lab/Walker (a coonhound type dog) mix. She's now almost a year old. Blaze loves being an inside dog and she quickly attached herself to my family. And even though she had never lived inside before, she never has had an accident. My dad didn't want us to keep her though, even though she loved us so much. He said we had to try and find a home for her. Well, I think G-d must have wanted us to keep Blaze because I found three different homes for her and none of them worked out. So my dad finally gave in and said we could keep her. She's an awesome dog. She now has my dad wrapped around her paw, though Breeze is still his favorite.

So, if you were counting, we have five permanent dogs now -- Karma, Ivy, Breeze, Ilsa, and Blaze. I'm fortunate enough to have a great family that doesn't mind caring for my babies while I'm gone at school! I was also gone for most of the summer. I spent nine weeks in Kenya telling people about Jesus. It was an awesome trip.

I trained some Masai's dogs while I was there and in return they gave me a puppy (shown here) who I had to leave behind. :-(  She was about eight weeks old. Her name was Sunny. The Masai didn't know you could train dogs but by the time I left the bush (we were in the middle of the Rift Valley in a tiny area known as Ewauso) I had their one dog (who I named Persy - short for Perseverance!) trained to sit, stay, come, down, and to shake hands. The natives got a kick out of the "shake" command.I need to head to class now. Love, Vicki
P.S. - I forgot to tell you that Echo graduated as a guide in December 2001. She's now working in the New England area.

The entire family!
A Family Portrait


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