Cassidy’s First Week

Doing her business outside

“Did Cassidy just ring the bell?” Mike asked, jumping up from his Lazyboy.  He clipped the leash on her collar and she led him out into the side yard. It was the second time she had nose-bumped the got-to-go bell that day. I have a hard time believing that she made the connection DSC_0033after just a week. But she went outside and did her business immediately in both instances. Even that – the “going” as soon as we’d taken her out part – has been a big improvement over days one, two, and three, when we’d have to wait, and wait – in the dark, in the rain, in the creepy morning dim – for her to go to the bathroom. (I’ve never before had a dog that didn’t pee the minute I took her out.) That said, Cassidy has only had one accident during the past week, which is pretty good for a six-month-old pup who has never before lived in a house.

While outside Cassidy is learning the boundary of our electric fence. Eventually, she we will have access to a doggie door and be able to go out whenever she pleases. This will make our lives easier too, but we can’t allow her that freedom until we teach her how to avoid getting shocked. We are still a few weeks a way from that goal.

Learning the rules

The past week has been about Cassidy getting comfortable with us and the surroundings, and about her learning the house rules. She has been doing great with all of that. She seems to catch on quickly, and what she learns sticks. After her attempts to climb DSC_0035on the furniture were discouraged once or twice, she no longer jumps on the futon. On her first day with us she came up on the dinner table during our meal. Mike and I each had opportunity to nudge her off. She has since taken to staying on her dog bed while we’re eating. She responds consistently and immediately to verbal reproaches like, “leave it,” “no,” or “uh-uh.”  She helps DSC_0038herself to toys and scatters them both upstairs and down, but this is a far better alternative to snatching socks, shoes, and gnawing on table legs. (Cassidy has been caught in each of these acts.) She did manage to eat through one of our rug. This happened while she was locked inside her crate and the rug was outside- if you can believe that. I also keep finding her with tissues and toilet paper rolls that she’s been pulling from the bathroom garbages. Note to self: keep bathroom doors closed.

Cassidy and the pack

She and Ripple have really hit it off. Cassidy snatches toys right out of the powerful dog’s mouth, and Ripple lets her. Cassidy follows her DSC_0071around the house, and Ripple seems to like leading her. Cassidy tries to chew on her jowls and…well Ripple is less tolerant of that one. On our walks the two of them bounce around so muchDSC_0086 together that several times their leashes have gotten tangled (we’re using a 50 foot one for Ripple and a retractable for Cassidy) and I had the hardest time unravelling them.

Out of all of us, the cats have been the most put out by this first week with Cassidy. The pooch does listen when we tell her not to chase them, and seems to be chasing them less and less in the house, even without the cue. Still, the cats are curious, but wary of her. When she encroaches upon them, they puff up pretty big and come out with interesting noises ( hissing, growling, and this deep-to- high pitch rolling sound that reminds me of a background effect from old horror films.)  But they are also allowing her to get close enough to sniff them. (Cassidy has DSC_0055DSC_0032received a bite on the nose from BamBam during at least one of these interactions.) In recent days the cats have been venturing out to spend time with us, and Pebbles (the braver of the two) has resumed his pre-Cassidy practice of curling up near the wood burning stove with his buddy, Ripple.

Mealtimes

Mealtimes are always a concern, because in the past we’ve had some heart-stopping dog fights surrounding food. So, we maintain a chow-time ritual with which Cassidy is becoming familiar. She has learned to sit. (Yes! She learned “sit” on the second day and now does it upon command. We have also been teaching her to sit as an alternative to jumping on us.)  Then she and Ripple wait for their food bowls to be put down. This practice preempts fights brought on by the bouncy anticipation of being fed.  Either Mike or I supervise mealtimes, and will do soDSC_0029 for a few weeks. On several occasions Cassidy has left her bowl and attempted to venture over to Ripple’s. We hang around in the room with them to discourage that kind of thing, which would result in a scuffle. Once they’re finished (or they move away from their food for a time) the bowls get put away. So, they’re not available for grazing throughout the day, and the possibility of altercations over the remaining morsels diminishes. That’s one way we keep peace.

Training Sessions

We devote ten minutes to training the dogs after dinner. It seems that Ripple looks forward to “work time.” It was during these session that she’s learned some fun tricks. She also gets to show off her basic skills. But training two dogs that are working DSC_0040on different levels can be challenging. So, we crate Cassidy while working with Ripple and put Ripple on a down-stay when teaching Cassidy. This works well, and Cassidy is doing great duringour sessions.

Our first teaching moments were devoted to early recall (the most important command, in my opinion.) Recall is simply having Cassidy come when she’s called. For the early training, we say, “Cassidy” and then immediately give her a treat. This pairs her name with good things.DSC_0042 We are also trying not to use her name when during reproach – a hard habit to break. This bad habit of ours has given Ripple problems with recall. While it feels natural to blurt out, “Cassidy, leave it!” this could create a punishing association with her name. Cassidy responds just as well if we say, “Leave it,” without using her name. And if we use her name only in conjunction with treats and praise, it increases the likelihood that she’ll come when we call her.

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We also introduced her to clicker training, which is a tool we use for teaching our dogs. I’ll write more about clicker training in two weeks, but I think Cassidy is going to do well with it.

Sunday: How we are teaching Cassidy to ring the bell.

Cassidy’s Journey has moved

Cassidy’s Journey has a new look and a new location:

http://www.mimirosen.com/teaching-cassidy-to-ring-the-bell/

Please check it out. I’m trying to make Cassidy’s Journey the best it could possibly be and would love your feedback.

Thanks so much for your support.

Yours truly,

Mimi Rosen

Crate Training Cassidy

Cassidy’s Crates

Cassidy has two different crates to choose from: a portable, canvas one that we keep upstairs DSC_0012in the bedroom, and a wire crate the we keep in the family room. The porta- crate was DSC_0010formally Ripple’s. She ate a hole in the mesh flap when she was a puppy, which Mike repaired with duct tape.

She also flipped it onto its side on several occasions and upside down at least once while inside it. The crate works pretty well as long as DSCN0243we’re home to discourage Cassidy from sticking her head through the little hole that she’s been making bigger. (Note to Mike, get more duct tape.) It’s where Cassidy sleeps at night. This is also the crate we used when we brought her home from PA.

Of the two Cassidy appears to settle in best within the wire crate.

A crate can become a place of safety and security

In an article that appeared in the Evening Sun, Abbie Tamber, dog trainer, author, and owner of Dogs on the Run, LLC. said that, “A crate trained dog doesn’t simply “cooperate” by going into his crate — he seeks out his crate as a place of rest and comfort.”

So far, this has proven true for Cassidy. When roughhousing with Ripple got o be too much, she sought calm within the wire crate. When the monstrous vacuum cleaner was turned on, the canvas one was her safe haven. We leave the doors opened on both, so she can go into to them anytime she wants. And she does.

Here’s how we got her into the crates in the first place:

  • We kept throwing food or a toy into the crate,
  • We praised Cassidy when she went inside,
  • We closed the door for about half a minute,
  • We opened it and let her out,
  • Then we repeated the activity,
  • And tried to make it fun.
BamBam annoyed

Bam Bam looking peeved. Courtesy of Lee Ingraham, Ingraham’s Stonehouse Photography

Crate training: Our cats think it’s great!

Aside for being a place where Cassidy can go to feel safe, the crate will be used to house train her, and will keep her (and our home) safe when she can’t be supervised. One problem that has surfaced, is that Cassidy has attempted to chase our cats, which has put her on their bad side, and made them leery of walking around the house. (Pebbles is a little bolder and has ventured out of the bedroom. He hisses when Cassidy gets too close. BamBam it seems, would rather starve than face the enthusiastic pup. So Mike and I have taken to carrying him from the bedroom to his food and water dishes in the laundry room.) We want to nip any form of cat-tormentation in the bud. Cassidy seems to respond to verbal reproach. A simple “Uh-uh,” has her stopping in the tracks of wrongdoing and redirecting on her own. So, if we watch her, and are aware of her body language when one of the cats comes into the room, then we can tell her to “leave them,” and praise her when she does.

How we are using the crate to house train Cassidy

Cassidy has had one accident since we brought her home. Luckily, it was on a rug that we immediately threw in the washing machine. If this happens too often, it can become more difficult to keep her from going in the house. The scent of her urine will serve as a reminder for her to pee in that same spot, and as dog’s noses are acute, it can be difficult to get rid of that effect. Needless to say, we are trying to prevent accidents, and crate training has been an important tool to that end.

  • We take her out every two or three hours,
  • If she does not, “Do her business,” (which has been more often the case) we bring her into the house and put her in the crate. Then we try again about a half hour later.
  • If we take her out and she, “Does her business, ” she can be free to follow Ripple around, steal her toys, and try to nibble on her snout, and such, for the next two or three hours. (Mike and I are amazed at how tolerant Ripple has been.)

In this instance, we’re not using the crate as punishment (the crate should be a positive experience.) We’re using it to prevent her from going to the bathroom in the house. If she comes to understand the cause and effect of it (If I “do my business,” when I go out, then I can play,”) that would fine. But more than likely she is just going to get into the habit of peeing and pooping outdoors, and the crating ritual will no longer be necessary in that circumstance.

I think for us, the most encouraging part about the crate training Cassidy, is that she does not seem to mind being in the crate whatsoever.

Question for discussion: Would you (or have you) crate train(ed) your dog(s)? Why? or Why not?

She’s here!

Cassidy’s first day

Although, my intention today is to write a very nice blog about Cassidy’s arrival, I am apparently too enamored with this beautiful dog to form a thought. As such, I have written the following sentence three times; Cassidy has just discovered Ripple’s toy box, and Mike and I have been watching her transfer its contents to one of the dog beds.DSC_0009

Yes, she is adorable! And yes, Ripple does mind sharing her toys (and the attention of her people) with this interloper. But she’s a good dog, Ripple is, and her low growls and raised back-hairs are instantly calmed with the simple reminder to, “be nice.”

Even our cats, who we feared would become victims of a newly introduced predator, are presenting as the bullies instead of the beaten. This leaves Cassidy with a clear place at the bottom of the pecking-order, at least for now – a fact to which she appears oblivious.

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Lee Ingraham, Mike and Cassidy

It’s all new to her, from being in a house, to being on a leash, to managing a set of stairs. But this intelligent creature appears responsive and intuitive. A gentle nudge from the dinner table is enough information to prompt her return to the dog bed from which she had come, and for her to dutifully wait for us to finish our meal before seeking attention. She’s learned to climb up and down stairs and to walk on a leash in an afternoon.

One would think that she would be exhausted following a day-long ride from Alabama in box truck, but not this tireless pooch. Now that she has mastered the stairs, she has been up and down them at least seventeen times, which means that I have been up and down them. DSC_0015

That said, I have no doubt that she will be housebroken in no time, and that she and Ripple will become great playmates. Cassidy will also be a blast to train, which will be the topic for Wednesdays blog.

Wednesday: Crate training Cassidy.

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Interview with Heather Sharit, who will be transporting Cassidy from Alabama tomorrow

Heather Sharit is a 42 year old homeschool-mom with 3 girls: ages 16,12 and 9.  She and her husband David have been transporting dogs and puppies for Crossing Paths for about a year.  “It is hard work but well worth the effort,” Heather said. “When you see families meeting their pups for the first time.  Priceless.  I have always loved animals and am so grateful that God has given me the opportunity to do something with that love.”

How did you get into transporting animals for the rescue group?  I have been a foster mom for 4 or 5 years and was very interested in seeing the happy endings part,  so the woman that used to drive the truck asked me to go along on some trips.  Eventually, she had to take a full time job and asked if my husband and I would be interested in taking over for her.  So we did.
Where are some of the places your have to travel to unite animals with their new families?  Our normal route is north through Tennessee onto I 81 as  far as the Pocono Mts.  We have several  regular stops, but have stopped at odd places along the route too.

Do you have any info about the history of this practice? (This is the third rescue that Mike and I have adopted from the South. The first was ten years ago. All were trucked in.)   I know that you guys [people who reside in the Northeast] don’t have an overabundance of puppies there like we do here.  So adopting up north only seems logical .  Unfortunately, dogs and cats here in the South are sooooo overpopulated that our shelters are full all the time.  Most only get 14 days [before they are euthanized.]  That goes for old, young, even moms with days old puppies.  It is very sad.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?  I just want to thank everyone who has adopted from the South.  I have yet to meet an adopter that does not absolutely love their new family member, and family members are how they are treated.  I am so glad to be a part of the solution for helping spare the lives of all these innocent little creatures.  Not only through adoption but also educating the public.  Crossing Paths has started a low cost/no cost spay neuter program called  “FIX YOUR MAMA”  .  Funded completely by donations. ( Don’t you love the name.) It is only for our small county, but it is making a difference in the number of dogs and puppies killed every year.

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Next Sunday, About Cassidy’s arrival

Robin Solitro from Crossing Paths Animal Rescue tells Cassidy’s story.

First, how Robin became involved with Crossing Paths 
I moved to my current home in Blount County AL in 2002 and also took a new job as an inspector for our state.  It wasn’t for a few years before I kept noticing the overpopulation problem. Animals getting dumped at my residence which is in a very wooded area in the country.  My paths crossed with Mary Ellen Tidwell, the Director of Crossing Paths Animal Rescue and it was fate!  I had been wanted to make a difference and through the rescue, I have.
I began fostering in July 2007 and my first group of dogs were a mixture of puppies and adults. There were 8 of them.  I was hooked after the first one got adopted – my first official “save”.  I also adopted one of the dogs, a generic black dog that was a cocker spaniel mix and lab mix and named her Starla.  She has the sweetest disposition and went from being a thin stray on the streets to a much adored indoor pet.
Cassidy’s Story
On Sept. 25th, 2012, I went to my Director’s [Ms. Tidwell's] home to pick up supplies and noticed a kennel with several puppies in it. They were all picking on this one puppy that was not of their litter.  This poor baby touched my heart. I got her out and picked her up. I knew I had a place at my foster home where she wouldn’t have to deal with other puppies.
Ms. Tidwell told me she had just gotten her out of our high kill shelter earlier that morning, despite not having any room for her, because she not only had the dreaded “TU” on her card, which meant “Times UP” but she also had a red check, which meant she would be put down (euthanized) later that day.  Ms. Tidwell recognized what a gorgeous and wonderful puppy she was and brought her into our rescue.
I brought her home, named her Sabrina (Cassidy) and found her a nice friend to play with.  Sabrina immediately showed her playful side and frolicked all day and every day after that.  She is very friendly and likes to put her feet up on you in hopes she can give you special dog sugar! I started the routine our rescue follows of giving her all her required shots and deworming her on a schedule.  On 10/23/12, she was spayed and given a rabies shot. After that, she was posted on PetFinder in hopes she would find her forever home.
Cassidy Today.
As of today, 12/5/12, Cassidy has been in rescue for 10 weeks.  For the most part, she was in quarentine receiving her vetting until she was healthy and ready to be posted in hopes of finding a home. And she has!
Cassidy is the type of puppy that is friendly and loving to everyone she meets. She will show no hesitation towards her new family when she steps off the transport truck on December 8th, 2012.  Her biggest challenge will be learning to use the bathroom outside and house rules.  She is so lucky to have been one of the 32% that makes it out of shelter.
What about the other dogs?
For the rest of them, they stay on what I call “death row” for 7 days. Then their time is up.  We continue to offer free or low cost spays for female cats and dogs in our county to try and lower the number of puppies and kittens being dumped in our shelter on a daily basis.  Currently, we are the only 501c3 rescue group pulling dogs/puppies from the shelter and we save about 900 a year.  We are all volunteers and many of us have full time jobs but we cannot stop saving these beautiful, loving animals.  Having a NO KILL shelter seems to be an unattainable goal down here but for each [animal] we save, we have the strength to keep on trying.
by
Robin Solitro
Call to action
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Just four days to go.

About the name Cassidy…

Believe it or not, we named Cassidy after a Grateful Dead song. Mike came up with the name. He’s been a fan of the band since his teenaged years. He’s seen over 200 concerts, can name a song after hearing the first few notes, and knows almost everything about The Dead’s history.

Image

“I guess one of the biggest draws,” he said,

when asked why he likes the group. “Aside from liking the music, was they [Grateful Dead concerts] were where people could be themselves without having to worry about being judged.”

Our dog, “Ripple” was a named after a Dead song too. Can you guess which one? If you guessed “Ripple,” you were right. Mike and I consider that Grateful Dead tune to be “our song.”  People often comment about how Ripple’s name is fitting because of her brindle coat, which resembles fudge ripple ice cream, but to us it’s more than that.

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GRATEFUL DEAD LYRICS

“Cassidy”

I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream.
I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream.
Ah, child of countless trees.
Ah, child of boundless seas.
What you are, what you’re meant to be
Speaks his name, though you were born to me,
Born to me,
Cassidy…Lost now on the country miles in his Cadillac.
I can tell by the way you smile he’s rolling back.
Come wash the nighttime clean,
Come grow this scorched ground green,
Blow the horn, tap the tambourine
Close the gap of the dark years in between
You and me,
Cassidy…Quick beats in an icy heart.
catch-colt draws a coffin cart. There he goes now, here she starts:
Hear her cry.
Flight of the seabirds, scattered like lost words
Wheel to the storm and fly.Faring thee well now.
Let your life proceed by its own design.
Nothing to tell now.
Let the words be yours, I’m done with mine.
(Repeat)
To hear The Grateful Dead performing Cassidy scroll down to Blogroll at the bottom of the page.

Six Days until Cassidy comes home

Old dogs, Young Dogs 

(We’ve adopted both)

Part 1: The old guys (and gals)

Zach was the oldest dog that we’ve adoption, and I’ll admit that I felt nervous about bringing home a dog with baggage. When we were looking on Petfinder for adoptable dogs, Mike said that he really wanted one that needed rescuing. ImageThen, as if the cosmos had heard him, Zach’s photo popped up.

The rescue group that we had gotten Zach from put him at five or six years of age. We were his second adopters within the year that he had been at the group’s facility. The first family  returned him after a week because he didn’t get along with their other dog, and would not come when they called him. Mike and I also experienced those issues with Zach, but were able to work through them. Like most of our dogs, Zach had been pulled from a kill-shelter down South – an eleventh-hour pardon. It seemed like he’d been through a lot. Mike and I were prepared for a challenge. We figured that Zach would need time. And we were in for the commitment.

On a good note:

Zach came to us completely house broken. He never destroyed our furniture, although he would try to steal a sock or two, and he knew to go outside to do his business. He also loved walks, and did great on a leash. He would become very cute and animated whenever he came upon a puddle. Often, this meant that he would later require bathing.

On the down side:

Zach needed time to learn the rules, and came to us with challenging behaviors. Our greatest concern was his inclination to growl when someone came into the room. He had Imagesnapped at a guest who had attempted to greet him on more than one occasion, before we suggested that visitors not to say “hi” to Zach until after they’d been in the house a while. We also invited them to frequently give the dog treats. Zach was treat motivated, and as this practice continued, instead to avoidance when arrived, he would become happy-excited. Eventually, after we had orchestrated many successful experiences between people and Zach, the growling and snapping to keep people away disappeared, and Zach became more tolerant and trusting. He had even begun to nudge people for affection.

Why adopt an older pet?

  • They’re probably going to housebroken,
  • They require a less maintenance/exercise than pups and younger dogs,
  • A dog that’s older than two can be much less distracted and so much easier train than a puppy,
  • You know what you’re getting.

Somethings to consider:

  • The acclimation of a senior dog to their new people and environment needs to be done more carefully because of  their reaction to the stress of the situation than with a puppy,
  • Older dogs may have baggage, and training and rehabilitation may be necessary to counter it,
  • There are health issues that come with age that may require added patience, time, and vet expenses. 

Still, an older dog can be a great choice when choosing a pet

My answer to dog challenges has always been training, but Zach required more than that. He needed rehabilitation. But we knew who he was when we adopted. This, in my opinion, tips the scale in favor of older dogs, when comparing them to puppies, because puppies change; when adopting a healthy older dog, you generally know what your getting. Not all older dogs are as troubled as was Zach. I’ve had many friends who have adopted healthy, well socialized senior dogs that blended smoothly with their families. These dogs often become the most wonderful family pets.

As had Zach, he just needed a little time.

Cassidy’s Journey has moved

Cassidy’s Journey has a new look and a new location:

http://www.mimirosen.com/teaching-cassidy-to-ring-the-bell/

Please check it out. I’m trying to make Cassidy’s Journey the best it could possibly be and would love your feedback.

Thanks so much for your support.

Yours truly,

Mimi Rosen

 

Eight Days Until Cassidy Comes Home

Planning for a smooth homecoming.

We received an email yesterday from the person inImage charge of transporting the dogs up from Alabama. In short, they have bumped up the date for Cassidy’s homecoming. She will now be joining our family on December 8.

So, here are some things we’re going to do to get ready.

Things we’ll need.

  • A leash and collar for when we pick her up.
  • Science Diet for puppies, which is not the brand that we have been feeding Ripple, but it is what Cassidy’s been eating. We can transition her later.
  • A porta-crate. This is where Cassidy will stay during the ride home from the drop off in Stroudsburg, PA (unless she is resistant to going in it, in which we case we will have a blanket ready and I will hold her on my lap.) The crate will later be kept in our bedroom and will be where Cassidy sleeps at night.
  • A metal crate, which will be kept in the family room. It will offer a more open feeling than the porta-crate and will allow Cassidy to acclimate to her new environment as well as to her pack-mates. It will also give Pebbles, Bam Bam and Ripple time to get used to her.

When she joins us.

Bring Cassidy and Ripple together in a neutral area

We are planning to bring Ripple out to Stroudsburg with us. This way she and Cassidy can first come together in a neutral area. There are also places along the way home where we can stop for walks. ImageWhenever we’ve had dogs visit us in the past, the first thing we’ve done was to walk them all together. Pack-walks release nervous-energy, while helping the dogs get a sense of each other. This creates a more relaxed feeling when they come into the house.

Introduce Cassidy to her new home slowly, keep up with routines

The first few days could go really well, or be really scary, so Mike and I are preparing for all possibilities and taking steps to guard against future cautionary tales by,

  1. Keeping Cassidy crated or leashed and gradually allowing her more freedom as the situation permits.
  2. While doing this, ensuring that Ripple’s routine (training, walks, attention etc.) remains consistent and that Cassidy is gradually brought into these activities with her.

I did learn from Robin Solitro, Cassidy’s foster mom, that Cassidy has not been crate-trained, or housebroken. During the initial week or so we will help Cassidy to become more comfortable with the crate. The American Humane Society has some good guidelines to help with this.   http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/crate_training.html

Another challenge will be training her to do her business outside, which will mean that, in addition to constantly watching her in the house, we will have to take her out on scheduled intervals. Before we put a doggie door in, Ripple had learned to ring a bell when she had to go out. She is now very independent with the doggie door and can go in and out as she pleases during day, but she still rings the bell when we close the door for the night.

Mike had set up an electric fence around our sideyard, and Ripple does well staying within the perimeter. Cassidy will have to learn the boundaries too. This means we will have to leash walk her around the perimeter whenever she has to go out and it may be several weeks before we will be able to let her out there on her own.

Help Cassidy to feel at home

Cassidy will be scared when she first arrives. Everything will feel uncertain. To make her more comfortable, we’ll follow her lead the first few days and give her lots of treats and affection each time she comes to one of us, while making very few demands.

When something she does requires correction, like if she were to jump on the furniture, we’ll be gentle, but consistent. Whenever possible we’ll try to avoid having to consequence behaviors by blocking and diverting Cassidy from engaging in unwanted ones. In time, we’ll use clicker-training (which will be demonstrated once we begin training Cassidy) to help her learn skills like ringing the got-to-go bell.

Supervise Feeding, don’t keep food left out

We’ll also supervise feeding times, and not leave food for the dogs to graze on throughout the day. In my experience, when a fight does occur, it’s often around food.

Look for another post on Sunday. Next week, guest blogger Robin Solitra will give us some insights from a foster mom’s perspective.

Cassidy’s Journey has moved

Cassidy’s Journey has a new look and a new location:

http://www.mimirosen.com/teaching-cassidy-to-ring-the-bell/

Please check it out. I’m trying to make Cassidy’s Journey the best it could possibly be and would love your feedback.

Thanks so much for your support.

Yours truly,

Mimi Rosen