Maria, Elisa, Finn, Flash and I went to the 2009 Spirit Conference held by Freedom Service Dog's last week. I was absolutely in all of my glory there, soaking up as much information as I could. In between sessions, I admired dogs from other organizations and watched their handlers. I was so impressed to hear the sound of clickers and to see no choke chains on dogs in all of my observations. There were forty dogs and one hundred attendees. I brought Flash and Maria brought Flash's brother, Finn. They flew in the cabin with us and to my amazement and pride, Flash tucked right under the seat infront of me and handled the flight with ease. Finn curled up at Maria's feet in the bulk head. Finn is a big boy and probably would have been uncomfortable scrunching under a seat, but I have no doubt he would have tried anyways if he had to. When we landed in Denver, we took a shuttle to Freedom Service Dog's facilities and had a tour. Flash and Finn were the only dogs on the shuttle and they got to hang out in their kennel facility and play while we toured. From there, we drove to Estes Park where we stayed at Aspen Lodge. The drive was nearly two hours from the Denver airport. Flash and Finn most definetly stood out as two of the best dogs at the conference (true, I am biased, but we had loads of compliments on them and they were a pleasure to have a long with us). During sessions, both of them would curl up under or behind our table and go to sleep. Breaking when we did, otherwise, taking time to sleep where they could. Unfortunately, we couldn't let them off leash for much of a romp because there was a mama bear and her cubs who had been hanging around the lodge (we didn't see them) and it wasn't safe for them to run free. Instead, we let them play together in our cabin.
On the drive back to the airport, there were five dogs in the shuttle van and you would haven't known it. Actually, I didn't, I thought there were only four. Finn slept on one of the dogs, and poor Flash, tried to get comfortable with Finn and the lab he was curled up with, but found it more to her comfort to sleep sitting up instead. On the return flight, Finn and Flash were both so tired that we all thought they could have easily flown to Europe if that's where we were destined. Flash didn't even lift her head or crack an eyelid when we landed in Edmonton. I have fallen in even more love with Flash and her brother Finn after our two nights together and am so proud of their puppy raisers, adult raisers and Dogs with Wings for these two gems. I would have been proud to take any of our current dogs to the conference with us because I feel I now have an even deeper appreciation and respect for the dogs we raise. Way to go Dogs with Wings and all of the Volunteers who make our dogs who they are! I feel we truly have much to be proud of!