Dogs helping Autistic kids find their way....the Candy video
Watch this CBS news clip of a little boy with Asperperger's syndrome, a form of Autism, and his Golden Retriever service dog Candy running agility. In the three years of blogging here at A Dog's Life, I have to say, this is my favorite dog clip of all time. Maybe even ever!
Many of you tell me that you never watch the movies on blogs or emails. If you have a slow computer or a slow connection, be sure to check this out somewhere else. It is worth it.
While there is no specific scientific proof that dogs help kids with autism (yet!), more and more families report that dogs do in fact help their autistic children. I have seen it personally many times over.
Last last year I blogged my Lab client Hunter, and his little autistic boy Merrill. Many of you have been asking me how they are doing. They are doing well, but due to time constraints, the family was not able to keep commuting the three plus hours to class round trip.I have not seen them since the last blog, although we do continue to communicate via email. My work with Hunter has shown me just how difficult it is for families with young kids to carry out the type of training that an Autism assist dog needs. Not that it isn't possible to train your own dog, but certainly it is much more difficult.
More and more I find myself working with families with autistic kids. This should come as no suprise because 1 in every 166 kids is affected. Some families want nice pets and others are hoping that their dog has what it takes to be a service dog.
I wrote the Executive Director, Patty Dobbs Gross, and told her of my intention to blog Candy and asked her if she had a quote to add.
Did she ever!
I have included the entire word document that she sent me because while she talks specifically about her program, she also gives a wonderful explanation about what is involved in training an Autism assist dog and offers help to families. Patty has also asked me to work with one of their dogs that is being placed in Maine this summer, and I will be honored to do so.
We Help Children Find Their Way
by Patty Dobbs Gross
North Star Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to place assistance dogs with children who face challenges. To date we have helped over seventy-five families around the country to meet their children's social, emotional and educational goals through the use of well-bred and trained North Star dogs.
Over half the children we serve are on the autism spectrum, although we also place North Star dogs with children who face a serious illness or who have suffered a loss. We use a different model of placement than the traditional assistance dog model that most people are familiar with, and this is due to the different roles that our dogs play. While most Seeing Eye or Wheelchair dogs need to have a multitude of trained skills, such as turning on or off light switches and picking up dropped items, our dogs tend to have less technical tasks such as comforting a child through a tantrum. Often this comfort doesn’t come from a task to be trained, but from the dog’s relaxed presence and focused attention.
When ever I have Pitties for clients, owners always get the same speech from me about how they need to train their dogs to a very high level. Pitties owned by responsible Pit lovers, need to be what is commonly referred to as "Ambssadogs" of the breed. The wonderful Pits I know work daily on changing public perception.
Be sure to watch Jonny Justice strutting his stuff around town and you will see just what I am taking about.
Meet our new puppy Lucky. Lucky is a "Rescue Pet" that we "rescued" from the clearance bin at Marshall's on Tuesday night. On Wednesday night Lucky came with Finney and I and my 6 year old daughter to agility class. One of the trainers made a comment that she thought Lucky could use a citronella bark collar.
Lucky barked for over an hour straight in class! Lucky also barked through most of this morning's chorus practice at my girl's elementary school.
Now in addition to dealing with, and cleaning up after three kids, two dogs and three guineas pigs, I now have a freakin' toy dog to annoy me as well. And just who do think feeds all those Webkinz on line everyday? I don't think I can count how much Kinz cash I have spent buying Collie Lollies to feed Baba our on line Collie, and she is one of about 6 Webkinz pets that we "care for".
I have drawn the line at taking care of the Shining Stars. No sir - I won't even look when the girls are on that web site.
The first night Lucky was here, my daughter made a dog bed out of a blanket on the living room floor and our new pup must have gotten "over watered". When I woke up in the morning, the blanket was soaked and the water had taken what was left off the finish on my hard wood floor leaving two dark spots in front of the TV. Isn't it ironic that with all the real pee pee I have cleaned up in the six years we have been in this house, it was a bug eyed toy dog that did my floors in.
What's that? I didn't mention that Lucky makes pee-pees? Yup right out of the side of her foot. My daughter did notice Lucky's awkward pee pee spot and she is happy to point it out to perfect strangers. Then she is more than accommodating in showing said perfect strangers just where she thinks the actual pee pee spot should be. I will give you all a hint, Lucky is a girl.
Can't fool kids, and for what reason Lucky's pee-pee hole is off to the side, I have no idea, but there seems to be no shortage of inappropriate speculation in my house.
As if being the constant companion to my 6 year old is not enough, apparently Lucky has a brilliant on line life as well, but I don't plan on going there either.
At least Lucky can't get bloat right?
This is the view I woke up to this morning. Finney thinks little 6 year old's butt makes the perfect pillow.
I have done mostly what men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can't forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.
Day after day, the whole day through--
Wherever my road inclined--
Four-Feet said, 'I am coming with you!'
And trotted along behind.
Now I must go by some other round--
Which I shall never find--
Some where that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.
--- Rudyard Kipling ---
Meet Four Feet.
He is a super sweet, and smart Sheltie who was named for the above Rudyard Kipling poem. Currently he has one more private session with me and several more group AKC CGC classes to complete.
Four Feet is one of the lucky dogs who gets to go to work with his human. Like many Shelties he barks just a tad too much. I have a trainer friend who says that all Shelties hail from the "Isle of Yap".
That is just not true, but it is funny!
Four Feets barking is not that bad, but as you can see from his posh work space, no barking would be best for all.
Some of the things that we have used successfully with Four Feet include:
-Teaching him to bark on cue
-use a Calming Cap in the car (sometimes)
-desensitize him to other dogs and noises
-give him alternative behaviors to do besides barking
-lots and lots of attention work
-stop a chain events before it begins
-increase use of Gentle Leader head collar
Many people find comfort in the above poem as Four Feet's human did after the passing of her last Sheltie.
As a matter of fact I came across the poem yesterday on one of my favorite blogs when I read that one of the Three Woofs and Woo had passed. (snif sniff) A commenter had added the Four Feet poem in the comment section, and I knew right then and there that Four Feet would grace my blog today in memory of Briggs the red Border Collie.
I find this a bit ironic, because way back when my blog was pitched to Maine Today, it almost didn't get off the ground. Reason? They had no place to put a dog blog.
Now the very same powers that be have given me a home, and finally decided to pay me a paltry fee, with the chance of more mula if the new web site takes off.
What does that mean for you? That means you all should click over here a lot and forward my blogs to all your family and friends. No cutting and pasting you hear? These things are tracked!
I am going to try and write more in depth training articles mixed in as always with the usual fluff. I plan on keeping the blog focus on training and Maine. There are enough doggie blogs out there covering everything else.
To get ready for this new move, Charlee and Finney and I had to truck down to the Portland Press Herald office last month, and have official photos taken. I am happy that the chosen image includes both of my dogs, while not including the few extra chins that seem to be making more and more appearances in any photograph that I take. Poor sweet Finney took an instant dislike to the white photo paper that we had to stand on. Notice those, big tall prick ears of his are seen firmly plastered to his head. By the way, dogs whose ears have that wind swept look, like Finney's do in the picture, are exhibiting appeasement. His ears seem to be saying..."well ok, but, are you sure, this is scary." I see both of my dogs looking a little stressed in the picture, but really who could blame them. It was a teeny room and I expected a lot of them. I am just glad that Finney made the final cut, because I didn't make him stay on the paper for more than about 30 seconds.
After the scary white paper incident at the photo shoot, I nearly canceled agility lessons with Anne and I had just about convinced myself that agility was not and would never be Finn's forte. I am sure glad that I did not. Finn is a very nice jumper, and he has been smokin'. Even with my poor handling skills, we have been running courses after only a few classes. Seriously, agility is a complicated sport and it does NOT come naturally to me. When I flounder to run and train at the same time, I think it gives me a glimpse as to how new dog owners must feel. Keeps me humble!
No one was more surprised than me when we got to class and started running courses. Finn and I needed to establish lots of trust between us and I think all the ground work has really started to pay off. A sharp contrast from last winter when he was all legs and nerves. I pulled him after a few sessions and ran Charlee instead.
He did so well in agility in fact, that I then nearly pulled him from his upcoming training class. All three of my kids are sharing the dog in an intro to clicker training class with my friend Jenny Yasi.
Again---glad I didn't pull him! Dogs really can work for different handlers if you keep it positive and fun. It is a great learning experience for my kids and has really helped with that ever important human/canine bond.
This is the first time, by the way, that I have let my kids use a clicker. You should see me in their class as I force my control freak self to bite my tongue and let Yasi work her magic with them. It is imposible for me not to say something, but I am working hard on that.
It seems that every time I start to entertain the idea of a "major purchase" something breaks. You all know what I mean don't you? I am not sure if the universe waits until I finally have enough cash to replace something, or if the universe is intentionally trying to keep me down.
My computer is dead, and I can't live, work or blog without one. Did my computer's demise have anything to do with the fact that I was jealously eyeing one of these way cool dog beds/shelves from Pottery Barn that Holly just added to the entrance at the Brown Dog Inn and the fact that I was entertaining the idea of getting one for my house?
What I was really thinking of is having one built. I like the look of the white, but I thought wood would fit better with our house and my dog's choice of mud as a lifestyle. I have already looked ahead into making my garage a dog mud room come mud season . Why I didn't do this before, I will never know. All it will take a little spring cleaning and a gate and the dogs will be able to hang out and dry right next to my office and then I can hose the room down. Really who ever heard of putting a car in a garage anyway.
The good news is, I have bartered for computer service and should know by next week just how dead the computer is. Hopefully I will be able to retrieve the hard drive and my son will continue to let me use his new computer for a few more days. Either way, lap top here I come.
Now I all I need is a carpenter with a dog who is looking to make a little trade.
Trooper, was terrified of storms when he first came into rescue. He used to get wrapped up tightly in a quilt to help weather them. Now he likes being wrapped in quilts just because he likes it.
A few weeks ago I got an email from a client with the heading 'Odd dog' at the top. Seems Becky's lab Wrigley has been 'strangling' a few of his toys.
She wrote: "I was trying to find some information on the net about a strange behavior our Yellow lab, Wrigley, seems to be doing more and more of. First it was with this enormous, and rather disgusting stuffed animal. We noticed that after he would wrestle it, he'd eventually grab its neck and suffocate! He will sit this way for an hour if we let him.
His newest object of affection is a big lobster toy that he suffocates on a nightly basis. We take these toys away when we leave, but whenever we're entertaining or watching TV, eating dinner, playing with his sister, it's back to suffocating! Have you heard of or seen this behavior before? I'm not too concerned, and he's still harmless whenever someone takes the toys away, just seems to be a weird new game he plays".
Had I seen it? Had I ever! Just moments before reading her email I had snapped a picture of Sandy next to my chair. Sandy loves to have things in his mouth, and he sucks toys like a baby sucks a binky. Sandy, self soothes himself, and he can stay this way for hours. I have noticed that he has a few special requirements on the texture and shape that he likes to use as his woobie. He likes plush toys that will form a ball shape when in his mouth.
Here's Sandy with a sheep in his mouth nearly asleep.
I have seen dogs suck on their beds, or have special toys that they get and carry when it is bed time.
Quite a few dogs I know have had their special woobies since puppy hood. I know of many other dogs who treat their toys like babies and nurture and sleep with them for years. When the woobie is either lost or eventually falls apart, many owners become frantic as the dogs pace and pace until they find another way to soothe, or the toy is replaced with a suitable substitute.
My sister's deeply missed golden Belmont had his dodo. The dodo was around for 3 years and it was a simple hard rubber ring that he loved to play fetch with and hang around with. No dodo substitute would do and when the next door neighbor's dog started "borrowing it", the dodo had to stay inside. Belmont would have made a great SAR dog as never gave up a search once he began. I was invovled in many a hunt for Belmont's dodo. The dodo was retired after my niece threw it in the ocean at Pomham Beach one cold fall day for a quick game of fetch and the floating dodo was sucked out to sea. Bell went swimming all around in the wrong direction and they were worried that he would drown trying to find it. My niece stripped down to her skivvies and swam with seals to get it back (yes seals and lots of 'em to). After three years of heavy duty dodo-ing, my sister switched Belmont over to tennis balls. She had this to say about that. "After the freezing cold seal incident, I tried to never throw the same ball twice so he would like all tennis balls equally, and not just a ratty one. We would have like 14 tennis balls around at any given time. We finally went cold turkey on the dodo after he lost it. I think I helped Bell look for that thing at least 1000 times over the course of about three years".
My good friend Holly at the Brown Dog Inn had this to add when I asked her if she has many dogs check in for boarding with their comfort items. "Generally the comfort items are as much for owners as they are for the dogs. Typically owners send items with their scent like shirts and blankets. We get a lot of stuffed toys, some have even sent small pieces of furniture and most recently "scented" socks".
While I can only ponder at how widespread dog woobies are, I would hasten a guess that it is more prevalent with retrievers, but I know many dogs of many breeds who have comfort items. Two of my friend Kathy's Border Collies Tucker and Beacon have long established toy sucking habits that sound very much like Sandys. Gracie, a puggle client sleeps with a night light. It is a ball that lights up when moved. At night she buries the ball in a blanket and goes to fetch it when she awakes.
I am far from an expert on dog woobies, and I don't very think much has been written on the subject, but it seems harmless enough to me as long as the toys do not fall apart and create a safety hazard, or like the bee toy in the movie Best in Show, it starts to run your life.
Does your dog have a woobie?
Thanks to B. Diane Myers for the photo of her dog Trooper and to Becky for her photo of Wrigley and for sending me a really good question.
Checkout Irina Markova and her poodles from the Conan O' brien show for inspiration. Irina performs with the Big Apple Circus. Be sure to notice that the dogs are performing quite happily.
Just a quick word of caution here. It is very hard for dogs to walk on their hind legs. Not all breeds were meant to do this and it takes a long time to properly condition even those that seem to have the knack for it.
This holiday season, I treated myself to a new vacuum and resolved to remove and conquer pet hair in the year 2008. We have gone through three vacuums in less than a year and half. I kept on buying the under a hundred bucks jobs, and clearly they couldn't handle my life and the subsequent fur that went along with it.
I vowed to get a better model this time.
In a marketing move that clearly targeted me, Bissell now makes a pet hair eraser with Stella the 5 year old Border Collie on the box. Can you say sucker? Yep I bought it, and to be fair it was 20 dollars less than the one with the Golden Retriever mix on the box .
When I asked the sales guy at Best Buy the difference in the two models, he went on about beater bars on the more expensive one being easier on my hard wood floors. As if someone whose dog's toenails dance across the hard wood floor all day is really going to care about a beater bar. There was also a stairs feature that just didn't apply to me, so Stella was rehomed right then and there.
Yes of course we named the vacuum Stella. Did you really have to ask?
So as if my new vacuum is not the most incredible earth shattering news story of the day, this blog has been direct marketed by Dyson vacuums to test their new hand held rechargable Animal Vacuum designed for pet hair that sells for $199. and is due to come out next month.
And it came today! My new baby is upstairs charging right now.
This blog is so happy to receive said rechargeable Dyson hand held vacuum to review, that this blog is throwing a gleeful cyber hat high up in the air ala Mary Tyler Moore.
Longtime readers of this blog have already read about my battle with dog hair and couches.
If these two vacuums work as well as I hope they will, my search for a new couch may be not nearly as covert as the last outings.
The dog hair drama will be continued as will reviews of both products in the near future.
To date my "Can't take it anymore" blog about owners taking dog training advice from self proclaimed dog behaviorist Cesar Millan has gotten the most web hits and sparked the biggest on line debate of all my blogs. Many of the commenters were not very nice and a few were deleted for being downright nasty. So why then you may ask, am I revisitng the Dog Whisperer issue again?
Recently a trainer friend of mine commented that if you put three trainers in a room with a problem dog the only thing they will agree on is that the other trainer is doing it wrong. I strongly disagree with this.
Yes of course there is more than one way to get an end result.
But, we dog trainer types live basically by the same creed that doctors adhere to:
"above all do no harm".
When we see harm being done, we must speak up.
The puppy owners that I wrote about yesterday all had to some degree taken advice from the show and run in the wrong direction. It doesn't matter that the show is for entertainment purposes only, and there is a warning to let us know such. Mr Millan makes problem solving look easy and many watching the show do follow his examples. Many viewers think having a great dog is as simple as these three steps that he deomostrates over and over again:
1-make a dog walk behind you
2-pop the leash
3-roll and pin your dog
None of this makes any sense at all.
And guess what? I am not the only one who thinks so. In what is probably the best article written on the subject in a long long time, Dogtime.com has published a wonderful overview of training methods. The ones that work, the ones that don't and the hows and whys that go along with it all.
Just in case you don't feel like clicking it, I cut and pasted the entire sidebar below. But there is plenty more to read on the web site.
sidebar: The trouble with Cesar
While television star Cesar Millan is credited with placing dog training on the public radar, the field's most respected behaviorists and trainers are concerned that many of Millan's ideas are unfounded. As for his methods? A few are downright harmful.
Putting your dog in his place
Cesar's way: Dogs assume either a dominant or submissive role in their "pack." If he doesn't get off the couch when you ask him to, it's your dog's way of telling you that he's dominant and you're submissive.
Why he's way off: The notion of a rigid pack hierarchy with fixed roles between humans and dogs is largely a myth. Dogs are most likely to do what we humans ask when they clearly understand what we want - not as a sign of submission. Patricia McConnell explains: "So many issues - sitting on the couch, coming when called - have nothing to do with social status, any more than how you do on a math exam reflects your social status. A dog who doesn't sit when you ask him to sit - in most cases - simply doesn't understand what you want."
The truth: In groups of canines, roles among individual members are both fluid and give-and-take.
Treating fear with fear
Cesar's way: You can "cure" a dog's fear by overwhelming him with the very stimulus that terrifies him.
Why he's way off: Imagine treating a human's acrophobia by dangling him over the edge of a skyscraper. This technique, called "flooding," actually leads to further psychological trauma in the form of learned helplessness: An animal learns that resistance is futile - his spirit is broken and he ceases to assert himself.
Trish King, Director of the Animal Behavior & Training Department at the Marin Humane Society observes: "In some of his shows, Cesar tells the owner how 'calm and submissive' a dog is, when to me, the dog looks shut down and fearful."
The truth: It may take weeks or months for your dog to truly overcome deep-rooted fear - and setbacks along the way are to be expected.
Snapping the leash or rolling the dog
Cesar's way: Physical corrections - such as snapping a dog's leash or forcefully rolling him onto his back - are an effective way to garner good behavior.
Why he's way off: Physical corrections add to your dog's stress rather than offer instructive information. You may temporarily stun your dog into obedience in the short run, but in the long run, the use of physical force increases aggression and, ultimately, your behavioral problems.
"You can lead with force, like Saddam Hussein, or you can be a benevolent leader to your dog by choosing a style more like Gandhi," says Tamar Geller, trainer to Oprah Winfrey's dogs and author of The Loved Dog. "Your approach will determine the type of relationship you have - and whether your dog acts out of intimidation... or respect."
The truth: Rewarding for the behavior you do want, as opposed to punishing for any number of behaviors you don't want, clearly communicates to your dog what's expected and is far more likely to generate confident, appropriate behavior.
Bailey takes a break at the puppy party on her Dad's shoes.
After my post holiday stress of counseling three families whose dogs bit kids Christmas Day, this weekend was like a breathe of fresh air. My Saturday puppy parties in the back room at the Windham Pet Quarters, are a welcome addition to my work week. The rest of the weekend was filled with new puppy clients all with the same issue.
"My puppy is attacking my kids".
I am not going to give all my hard earned knowledge away for free right here and now, but I will say in all three of my new puppy cases the owners were very glad they called a trainer. All three new puppy clients related to
me that seeing something done in person, is not the same as reading a book. All three clients were not sure what degree of nipping was normal and nothing they had tried seemed to help for very long.
Call a trainer people before your pup gets out of hand.
In all three cases the kids in the house were staying clear of the new puppy after they had been hurt, and the image of the big happy family was not looking likely to the parents.
For me there is nothing like starting a puppy out right. Puppy breathe is an added bonus. My Mom taught me the value of puppy breath at a very early age and I drink it in like others enjoy a fine wine.
Problem prevention is the key!
By now I am sure you are wondering what has become of the three biting dogs. I referred one dog to Tufts, and the other two were referred to their vets. In the later two cases it was clearly a case of holiday overload and owners who should have provided a safe getaway for their dogs. The second two dogs will receive further training after the vet check.
For right now, all three dogs are on very strict management programs . Keep in mind though that any door can be opened, and any dog can be let out by accident. There is a saying among trainers that "management always fails". If you have a problem dog, you cannot "just put him away" and think everything will be fine. You need management and training!
Also let this serve as a warning to all-
Dogs need a safe retreat during stressful times, especially holidays when routines are interrupted and we have less time for them.
Nike, named for the white swoosh mark behind her ears, got a puppy temperament test to determine if she was too over the top to live with young kids. She passed!
And speaking of pups, my own dogs got a much needed walk in the woods this morning now that the temperature is bearable. There was so much water melting off the trees, at times it felt like it was raining.
My puppy parties are free and pups under 4 1/2 months are welcome. Parties will be held most weekends through the winter at Pet Quarters in Windham.
January puppy parties will be held Saturdays at Noon. Other dates and times are subject to change.
Owners stay in the area with their pups, and play is strictly monitored.
Over on the on line yahoo group for fellow New England Border Collie rescuers, I have been asked to share some trick training tips to help get everyone through the winter. I figured you all are getting a bit stir crazy with all this snow and ice, so I will be sharing tips over here as well.
We got started when we viewed a You Tube video of Springtime, one of our more difficult placements. She was a Christmas puppy owner surrender from last year. She landed the perfect home in California with an agility competitor. We almost never allow out of area adoptions, but this dog burned through several foster homes with her high energy and reactivity to the world, and she really needed a very special working home to be happy.
If you ever wanted to teach your dog to ride a skateboard, it really isn't that hard. Many dogs in my tricks clinics pick it up in just a few sessions, but you have to lay the ground work first.
F irst the dogs need to be operant. That means the dog knows they have to do something to get something and we want to teach them to take risks. Unlike training in the old days where we commanded the dogs to work, dogs of today now learn how to "offer behaviors" and to be partners with us. This is carried out quite easily with a clicker, but you can use a marker word like "yes"!!
I can tell you that I am not a "purist" clicker trainer. I take short cuts (cheat!).
To get the dog interested in the box in the beginning, I use a dish towel in the box with treats underneath .This makes things move along much quicker. I am not saying you can not or should break down the behaviors into eenie meenie teenie steps, I am just saying, most of us don't have days to accomplish this first step.
Here are some more of my personal tips to get you started.
-Look at the box not your dog, and don't hand feed, but Click and toss the treat away from the box so they have to go back and interact with the box on their own free will.
-Do a little bit at a time- end the game before your dog gets bored.
-As your dog gets more and more interactive with the box, start to think of what it is that you want the dog to do. Stepping in it would be a great thing for future skateboard champs. Start to shape the behaviors you want.
-Don't be surprised if you dog starts whacking jumps and weave poles for a while when they get back into the agility ring. Don't let your dog see you laughing, and just ask them what you want again and then be sure to jackpot that, or you will have a swatting dog like Charlee.
-Don't be surprised if you come in your kitchen and see your dog standing in your recyclables like my Collie Finney! Again- no laughing!
-Once your dogs is offering behaviors at a lightning fast rate, you can still play the game for short durations, and the game ends when your pre-measured treats run out.
If you first start by rewarding your dog for interacting with the box, riding skateboards, ringing bells and easy buttons among many other tricks will be a breeze.
Next week after you all have been playing with your dog and the box for a little while, I will give you tips for skateboarding. In the meantime, check out Pete the Xtreme Skateboarding Jack Russell Terrier.
Too bad Pet Star is off the air, this dog is fantastic!
The sniglet contest in search of the perfect word for dog breath frozen on the inside of your vehicle is still on going.
There have been quite a few times that we have had stray dogs in rescue that have been so very nice and so clearly loved that I have spent hours and hours scouring on line lost dog alerts, Craig's list and various web sites and leads, trying to reunite them with their humans. Not once was I successfully.
My kids and I seem to be magnets for wandering dogs and we have had many a dog both with and without tags, hang out at our house while we try to find the owners. Take a wild guess which one is easier?
I also have extra tags here for visiting dogs that just say reward with phone numbers. I use these for my families' dogs, foster dogs, and friend's dogs who stay over. It won't do much good for people to call the phone number on Sadie's tag number when her humans are in Argentina playing polo now will it?
We can all thank my Dad for the next tip. Change your smoke detector batteries every New Year.
This picture of Charlee in front of my house goes out to all of you living in warmer climates and for those of you who have moved away and actually miss Maine winters.
Take a good look at the picture and you will see the snow is higher than our regulation basketball hoop. We live at the end of a cul de sac and the kids usually have snow to play in until after Easter.