Sugar’s New Journey!


I think everyone who knows Sugar and who knows me had no doubt that “being retired” just meant no more babies for her, but it definitely didn’t mean her work was done!

Krackle and Sugar enjoying a beautiful summer day together!

So, this fall, Sugar and I will be working and practicing to be able to pass the exam that will allow her to become a Certified Therapy dog and hopefully we will be a team for a different mission-helping kids, those who are ill, the elderly and others find joy in the simple things like petting, talking and reading to a dog!

Sugar didn’t feel like picking up her toys today-and it’s not a task she needs to learn now, so they just stayed on the floor…..

I have no doubt that once Sugar gets into this new career she will be fabulous at it!  She won’t have an opportunity to test until this fall but once we get further along in the journey I will definitely update her blog to let everyone know how it’s going!  We will bring you along on the adventure……

Holly with Sugar May 2018

We are ready for our next adventure together-learning to be a Certified Therapy Dog Team! 

The Big Long Wait…And Time for a Celebration-Part 2

So, Sugar finally arrived at our home on July 22, 2015, and we nervously prepared for the birth of her first litter.  And before I knew it I was embarking on a journey that would surpass anything I had imagined more than 3 years and counting!

Sugar delivered her very first litter, and they were ALL girls!  6 girls to be exact!  2 I had to resuscitate 2 due to being separated from their placentas but all were beautiful.  2 yellow labs and 4 black labs.  Soon they were given a “litter name”-and they were officially “The Spice Girls”.  They were going to be given names that loosely represented spices-so the organization named them Clover, Poppy, Saffron, Nutmeg, Sage, and Cayenne. (Any guesses as to which one was the rambunctious, spicy one????)

Sugar’s whelping adventures continued, some with more difficulty then others-with her 2nd litter (the C litter), 3rd litter (the L litter), 4th litter (the Z litter) and finally her 5th litter (the N litter). Along with the puppies listed above, she had Cosmo, Crush, Carmen, Lola, Lyric, Liam, Leonard, Lizzie, Linus, Logic, Zip, Zag, Zing, Zoom, Newton, Nana, Nino, Norton, Nesa, Natalie and Nelson.  You may think that puppies are all the same, but all of these puppies were unique and individual and whelping homes hold a special place in their heart for each and every puppy that they are able to be the foundation for~her puppies are spread across the globe, making a difference for countless people and her legacy will continue for many years to come!

I whelped 3 of Sugar’s litters and she had wonderful, loving whelping homes for the other two litters.  Yet one more example of how many hands touch the lives of these assistance dogs in training!  If I invited all the people who had a role in Sugar’s life or the life of her puppies I would easily fill a large room!

Sugar Sires

Sugar and the Sires in her life!

Spice Girls Family Page

The Spice Girls litter

C litter april 2016

2nd litter-the C’s

Z litter family tree

4th Litter-The Z’s

N litter family tree

5th litter-the N’s

L litter Family Tree

3rd litter-the L’s

So, how did Sugar start her life? Interestingly enough, I’ve been able to have email communications with some of the people who were involved in her life prior to her coming to Minnesota when she was with Guiding Eyes!  I have been able to learn a bit about her life before I knew her and it’s been so wonderful to be able to create the full picture of who she is as a dog and companion, as well as those she has had the privilege to live and play with!

I got to learn about some  of her personality traits, behaviors and what she spent her time doing as a puppy and young dog.  How she loves the heat-whether it’s laying in the sun or snuggling RIGHT up to the portable heat units people use under their desks; how she played the role of a sheep in a Christmas play; how her quiet and dedicated spirit captured the hearts of many along the way; and how her direction changed and she arrived in Minnesota to be a breeder dog for Can Do Canines, providing so many offspring to change the lives of people around the world.  She had people she loved and they loved her!  This is what has made me understand a bit better about the “letting go” part of volunteering for an organization of assistance dogs. (Full disclosure-that doesn’t make it easier for me to say goodbye, but I do understand it!) When I saw how Sugar adapted once she got to our home and how we adore her and she loves us, I realize that dogs are very capable of loving others after us, and that’s okay!

Sugar's litter picture

Although as first glance you may think this is Sugar with a litter of her puppies, but this is actually Sugar’s mom-and Sugar is the one in the front foreground with the pink collar(with her name Sugar on it)! This is where her assistance dog journey began at Guiding Eyes!

If you click on the various photos below you will see a caption:) These are some of the photos shared with me by those who have loved Sugar since she was a puppy!

This is one of the things I love about volunteering-I am not the only one who loves one particular dog!  All of us have connections and a piece of our heart with a variety of dogs, and the dogs get the opportunity to have many people who love them along the way! How lucky are they to have so many rooting them on and loving them????  Sugar wouldn’t be NEAR the wonderful dog she is if she hadn’t had outstanding people along the way that cared for her, taught her, loved her and wanted the best for her.  Each person who touches the life of a dog adds one more brick to the foundation of their success and personality, and without each of those bricks they just couldn’t be the dog that they are! I am forever grateful to those who had a part in Sugar’s life!

So, what’s in her future? She’s only 5 years old, so in Part 3 I will share some of my ideas for this wonderful, loving, and kind dog!!!!! 

The Big Long Wait…and Time for a Celebration-Part 1

retirement on a bench

While she has spent a few years learning to be under the benches and chairs as part of her training, as a retired girl she just may be spending some time ON the benches now! 

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 is a fabulous day for me!  Yesterday is the day that I received the final paperwork and approval for the adoption of Sugar to our family!!!  We are absolutely thrilled that Sugar is ours and we can’t wait to enjoy her retirement with her!!!!  What is next in her future?  How will she spend her retirement?  I decided before I thought about her future that I would first reflect on her past that brought her to us in the first place.

On June 9th, 2015, I received word from Can Do Canines that they had received an email from Guiding Eyes and there was a possible breeding dog from their program available to them.  They asked if I was interested and up for the task of having a breeding program dog in my home, and to let them know once I thought about it.  It had been a tumultuous year; my father passing away from Alzheimer’s, a family member having serious medical issues that required 2 months of intensive care and hospital visits around the clock, and having to deal with the loss of a program dog that I was unbelievably attached to from unexpected complications of Lyme’s disease.  Honestly, I just wasn’t sure I had “enough” of what it would take to have another program dog in our home. The questions swirled around in my head like a blur – “Could I keep my emotions intact to have another dog that wasn’t mine and not get too attached?”, “Was my heart ready for another investment of time, energy and love?”, “What would happen to the dog if it wasn’t able to be a successful breeder and could I deal with the disappointment?”, “Would the worry outweigh the joy?”

Sugar in her Guiding Eyes harness

This is the very first picture I got of Sugar when she was at her first organization.  Here she is in her harness out in New York.

After talking with my husband about it (who knew there really was no decision to be made, that I just had to realize the answer was yes all along:) we said yes to a dog named Sugar! We had a little apprehension but knew that this was another opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others by providing a breeding home for a program dog.  We had whelped two personal litters and were even toying with the idea of being a whelping home, but figured that a breeding home foster was a good compromise! A breeding foster keeps the dog in the home including during the breeding, vet appts., ultrasound and x-rays until one week or so prior to the due date when they move into their official whelping home. So, some volunteers are breeding foster homes, some are whelping homes, and some are both!  I think everyone was well aware that it was only a matter of time before I realized what they already knew – that there was no way I was going to be a breeding home without jumping in with both feet and becoming a whelping home too!  There was just too much about puppies that I loved!

And the good news was that she was already bred while she was in New York the week prior, so all we had to do was to wait and see what the ultrasound would reveal during the week of July 4th!

Unfortunately there were some cases of kennel cough in the program and one of our temporary foster’s contracted it and passed it along to our daughter’s family dog who began showing symptoms on July 3rd-so while we were planning to get Sugar after the holiday, take her to her ultrasound and move her into our home, things didn’t go as planned.  It seemed like unusual, unexpected events were the norm for me that year, and disappointment continued with a delay that could be weeks or months in the making.  There was no way we could move a possibly pregnant dog into a home that had been exposed to kennel cough or it could be detrimental to the puppies that she could possibly be carrying.

And my life and plans weren’t the only one that had to change-this meant that Sugar had to remain somewhere else for an undetermined amount of time; would my house be ready in time for puppies if she was pregnant? Where would she go if it wasn’t?  Who would be available to whelp a litter of puppies at the last minute and change their life for 8 weeks??

So, I swallowed my disappointment and it was determined that the Director of Training would bring her to her ultrasound while she was being fostered with her during this time.  Then I got the call from her after the ultrasound saying she had a belly full of pups and her due date was in August!  I was over the top excited and I think it was right then and there that my whelping journey and desire began! The due date was estimated as August 9th, but Guiding Eyes had put August 2nd as her due date so we had a range to work with! With the first hurdle being cleared, we had to just figure out how to tackle the second hurdle of the kennel cough clearing.

We had 3 dogs that had been exposed in our family, so we had to wait until the set time after all coughing had stopped and then verify that none of the other dogs were showing any signs of coming down with it for a set amount of time to make sure that all opportunities were gone for Sugar and the pups to be exposed unnecessarily. That also meant sanitizing both our cabin and home on every surface imaginable to prevent anything from being a concern. For those who know me, they are well aware that for these things I don’t leave ANYTHING to chance!  Dog beds, bedding, floors, dog toys, leashes, crates……everything my mind could POSSIBLY think would be contaminated got disinfected, and that was basically everything.  I think that I was in hyperdrive as well because of the unusual circumstances of the other dog in our home that we lost to Lyme’s disease.  For almost every dog that contracts the disease, there is a treatment protocol that typically takes care of the issues and most dogs can live a full life after diagnosis. But since the unusual and extremely rare events unfolded then, my mind was sure that this was yet another case ready to rear its ugly head and I was going to do everything possible to prevent any opportunity for an illness in my home.

And so it went. Waiting. Hoping. Wating some more.

FINALLY, the kennel cough had cleared and it was time to start making arrangements to bring Sugar to our home!  It was determined that Wednesday, July 23, 2015 would be her move in day. I had approximately 10 days to get to know this new girl, clear my schedule for the next 8 weeks, get our house ready for a litter of puppies, and begin a journey of whelping assistance puppies!

Below is a  look into some of the communication that we had figuring out all of the moving pieces of Sugar’s beginning with the organization-some snippets for humor’s sake:


Wait for it……YEP! I have questions!!!! 🙂

  1. Her weight when she arrived; her latest weight that’s been recorded
  2. Her Birthdate
  3. Any info on the number of siblings, etc.?
  4. I discussed with staff about any restrictions during pregnancy,  but if there is anything else you think I should know?
  5. Did you find anything while she was with you that she enjoyed playing with?  Balls, bones, ropes????

Okay, enough for now. 🙂


Training Director:
I would have been worried about you if you didn’t have any questions 😉


Also, I think I may have figured why she is whining/barking!  We have been watching her and trying to pinpoint when she is barking what it may mean-she is barking/whining when we are sitting down, but every time we bring her out she goes to the bathroom right away.  Is it possible that this is one of the trained behaviors of a seeing-eye dog-that since people may not be able to SEE her need to go outside that she has to alert them in another way?  After she comes in she’s fine, lays down and no more barking or whining. (Although she does try to sneak up on the couch in our laps!)  If you happen to talk to the organization, I would LOVE to find out if this is one of the trained methods!

Director of Training: 


I can tell you for sure that the whining/barking isn’t a trained thing. The staff person that had her prior to shipping her to us warned me about it. She thought it was tied to wanting attention as well.

Sidenote: (What I found out once I got to know her is that her whining and barking was because she is ALWAYS hungry!  And that with only a few weeks to go, whining and barking was her way of telling me that she did NOT approve of the amount of food she was getting…. :))

our very first day with Sugar

Our very first day (and first hour) with Sugar!