PawsitivelyLola

An "Official" Therapy Dog


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I’m a Natural

I did it!  I went on my first therapy job.  It was so great.  Mom and I were scheduled to go to a retirement home on Dec 7th but the Icemageddon of 2013 hit and the roads weren’t safe.  So we got to go on our first visit Saturday, Dec 14th.  (Again – my dependence on mom and her opposable thumbs has prevented me from updating you sooner.  Apparently the holiday season is a crazy-busy time for you humans).

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We showed up at the home and waited on Hilda to come meet us to show us around.  She was so nice and introduced to a lot of people.  Since we got there after lunch most people had just had eaten and were on their way to bingo.  Many of the rooms were empty but if someone was in the room we usually just popped in to say “hi” and to introduce ourselves.  Other times we stayed for a while and I got a lot of attention.  Sometimes people would ask if I was a boy or girl.  Mom would say “girl” but then they would say “He is such a good boy.”  Later we laughed about that.

As we were making the rounds in one hall, a man met us on his way to bingo.  He was nice and he R-E-A-L-L-Y liked me.  We talked to him for a long time.  I guess he didn’t care he was late for his bingo.  He told us about the dogs he had before he moved there and he even wanted me to get up in his lap while in his wheel chair.  Mom helped by putting my front paws up in his lap.  I wasn’t very comfortable but I could tell it made him happy so I stayed a while.  When I was ready to get down I moved very slowly to be gentle.  Later mom complimented me on my gentleness.  I think she forgets I’m a registered therapy dog for a reason and I know what I’m doing.

Another lady was sleeping in her chair the first time we walked by her room. Her door was wide open so we could see she was awake as we came back down the hall so we went in to say hi.  Mom said this visit left the biggest impression on her.  The lady just sat there and looked at us for a while.  Then when she wanted to talk she moved her mouth but nothing came out.  So I went closer to her so she could pet me if she wanted to.  She just sat there for a while then in one motion just lunged forward to pet me.  That one action told us she liked that we stopped by, she didn’t have to say it.  We didn’t stay in her room long but it was a nice visit. 

We saw people in all different levels of health.  Some didn’t seem to fully understand what was going on but would reach out to pet Lola with their frail little hands.   In some rooms, people wanted me to hop up in the bed with them.  Hilda would say “Maybe next time”.  Mom is trying to find out when next time will be and if I really can get in the bed with them or not.  That really is where I do my best work but that might make it where we can’t go see as many people. 

IMG_0501Here I am after my visit.  Mom had friends over to hang out and help her decorate the house.  I helped myself to the couch while they ate dinner and did not move after.  I was one tired…girl.

Until next time!

-Lola, Registered Therapy Dog


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It’s Happening!

I know I’ve been kind of quiet since I announced I passed my Therapy Dog test.   It doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

Since I last wrote, mom has been working very hard with her school work and getting my registration finalized.  She had to watch a DVD and take a test.  Every time I walked by and tried to get her off the computer she would say “This is for you – let Mommy finish.”  Just to show her how seriously I take my new title – “Lola, Registered Therapy Dog”,  I stayed by her side and supported her by leaving my chin in her lap.  She passed her test with flying colors and our paper work is submitted to TDI…so we are official now!

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We did work the Corvette Silent Auction.  It wasn’t an official therapy dog job though but I did what I could.  One man came up and asked mom if his little boy could pet me.  The little boy was scared of me (I have no idea why) so I laid down and put my chin on the dad’s knee.  I just patiently waited while the little boy decided I was safe to come pet.  Mom was so proud of my patience and said I did good.  That made me VERY happy.

TDI BandanaHere I am are in my official bandana.  I must wear it when I go on my jobs.  Mom has a shirt with the logo on it too!  She also got these really cool clips for my tags so she can easily change my collar when we go places.  I had no idea there was so much planning that would go into this.

Mom has called several places.  Everyone seems to want us.  Even if they don’t have a program set up – they said we could still come.  Mom has talked to three places but we’re just going to start with one for the time being. HOW EXCITING!!!

Our first job it to go to a retirement home.  One lady used to visit with her two dogs but she doesn’t go anymore.  So all those residents have been without their dog-love time for a while now.  Sounds like the perfect place for me to start my work.  We go next Saturday.  I absolutely can’t wait!!!  I promise I will share as soon as I can!

-Lola, Registered Therapy Dog


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WE PASSED!!!

What a crazy week this has been!  It’s was filled with hard work, pampering, more hard work and my test!!!  Some days we went on 2 walks a day.  (That meant 4 for Mom because she walks Tipper and I separately.)  On top of the walks I would have to lay down for EVERYTHING, my food and even my pills. Then Tipper and I would work on different commands for treats at least once a day.

Thursday night we had class at Home Depot.   Here we are for a class picture.ClassPhoto2

Then on Friday, the preparation stepped up even more.  I went to the groomers so I would look extra pretty for my test.  I had gone to this place before but only to get my nails trimmed,  never for the full spa treatment.  Don’t I look cute?  We didn’t leave the bows in long, we’re more bandanna fans.  AllGroomed

Then yesterday was TEST DAY!  The test was in our same room we would have class in but the energy was very different.  There were lots of other people there and only 3 dog/handler teams tested at my time.  Mom filled out some paperwork and then the test started.  There were 13 tests we had to pass. We went to the middle of the room and we did one small test at a time.  I thought it was a lot of fun because everyone kept loving on me.   For the Check-in And Out of Sight part of the test, mom left me for 3 minutes with a nice lady while mom left the room!  We never tested that skill for that long but all us dogs did just fine without our parents.  Mom later told me they were worried while standing outside and Gracie’s mom was making up all kinds of stories about all the bad things she could imagine Gracie doing.  One of our next tests was the Group Down & Stay.  With all the work we did this past week I shined when it came to this part.  BUT I made mom soo proud that I did it she got a little excited during the “stay” part and made a hand jester that I thought meant to come.  So I got up, oops.  We went through the rest of the exam fine and at the end they let mom and I re-do the “stay” part.  I did great (and so did mom by not trying to confuse me) and now I’m an OFFICIAL THERAPY DOG!!!!  Well, mom has to send in the paperwork to TDI (Therapy Dog International) and CGC (Canine Good Citizen) but we PASSED!

After the test  Kathryn, the little girl who played “the child” for the Reaction to Children part asked if she could come meet me.  It made me feel so important.  THEN Beverly came over and asked if she could take mom’s and my picture together.  She helped during different segments of our test and it turns out her mom follows my story all the way from Abilene!  It made us feel so famous.  I just hope the paparazzi doesn’t start waiting for us at the park now when we go on our walks.WePassed

Mom heard almost everyone passed from our group so I feel so honored to be in such a distinguished group of dogs.  Good job everyone from Class of Summer 2013!  We can relax now for a while.

-Lola, A REAL Theapy Dog


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It’s Crunch Time

Mom says I’m learning the meaning of the word “cram” this week. My Therapy Dog Test is less than a week away so we’re now working in the house, on walks and going places. As you read this it helps if hum the theme to Rocky in your head.

WorkingOnDownOver all I would say I’m pretty smart. This past Thursday when we went to class, I knew exactly where we were going as soon as mom got my bag out. I just stood at the front door waiting to leave as mom gave Tipper her treats. In class we worked on the usual stuff and a few things I missed last week while mom was out of town. We both feel pretty good about everything other than “down”. Just like with “sit” I know what mom is asking me to do…I just don’t want to do it. Here I am with Ms. Teresa working on my down, with treats!!!!

(Off the record I need to be clear that all this cramming is due to mom’s travel taking away from my training, not my lack of performance. Apparently when you travel, sometimes it’s crazy when you get back and time is limited.)

Training_SPPlusToday we were going to go to Home Depot again but we ended up at the Pet Store instead. Earlier, Mom bought me a new collar and leash for me to wear on test day. As she was checking out, she talked to the staff about helping us with a few tests. When we got there they were very excited to work with us. I would like to think it was due to my magnetic charm when we walked in the door. We walked around and worked on sit, down, stay, and heal by ourselves. Then one girl offered treats to me and I wasn’t able to take them because mom said “leave it”…but boy did they smell good!

As far as my performance goes, overall I’m not too worried but I still don’t lay down when I’m told. I finally have ”sit” figured out the way mom wants it. Yesterday and today I even sat down a few times when mom stopped walking…and she didn’t even have to tell me to! You should have seen how happy that made her. I just need to learn I’m going to have to lay down when she tells me regardless if I want to or not.

Tune in to next week to see how the test goes and if we passed!

-Lola


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While Mom’s Away…

Mom’s been away the past few days so we missed class this week and some days of practice time.  I’m not complaining but believe me I’ll use this in my defense if I don’t pass my test on the 14th!  So where is my mom during this important time in our lives???  She’s off traveling with my former foster parents and running one of her silly little half-marathons.  Since I’m left behind to be the “responsible” one, I’ve been helping Tipper and our great house-sitter Amie hold down the fort.

I don’t have training stories to share this week so I’m going to share some great therapy dog tales with you.

  • Here’s one about a Schoodle named Boji.  He’s a rescue dog too!  He has his own blog about his adventures and now mom is following it.  Boji’s Blog Therapy Dog Boji
  • Here’s a Grrreat story about a little girl Ally that only responded to dogs when she started her rehabilitation after being very sick.  She’s now recovered and takes her own dog to hospitals to visit children that need their spirits lifted. Ally’s StoryTherapy Dog
  • And here’s one about a big fluffy dog named Leroy that goes to nursing homes and has children read to him.  This one is really great because it talks about how the children that read to him have improved in school.  I hope to hear a story like that how I help someone when I become a therapy dog!  Leroy’s StoryTherapy Dog Leroy
  • My last example is for my mom.  She was very upset about the Boston Marathon bombings and there were dogs just like me – Goldens, that provided support for those affected.  K-9 Comfort DogsTherapy Dogs - K9 Comfort

Till next week

– Lola


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Two Week Recap

So sorry I missed last week’s therapy dog training update!  Mom was traveling and we just never got our schedules together to decide what to share.  Plus since I can’t type, I wasn’t able to take things into my own paws…so to speak.

SchoolSign2Here’s what’s you’ve missed.  I now look forward to driving up and seeing this sign.  This means I’m at school and it’s time to work.  I do better in the training room than I do on our walks at home.  We’ve continued our work on “sit” and have now added “leave it”, “down” and “sit-stay”.

I’m getting better with the sitting and I think I’m getting the concept of “leave it” but what’s confusing is in the past I always got the treat if I waited long enough.   Now I don’t get to take it at all.  Isn’t that crazy???

My new challenge is laying down on command.  Mom says when working on “down” with treats I lay down at Papa Bill pace.  (That’s her dad and he moves a little slowly.  I knew there was a reason I really liked him other than the dog treats he carries in his pockets.)  But without treats let’s just say I need a little encouragement so I’ve given mom a whole new challenge.  Yay – this has her mind off making me sit all the time!!!

Even though I resist it at times, I do like this training thing.  I’ve spent a lot of time with mom and we go places like my school, the park and Home Depot!!!  Mom and I went there today with Aunt Denise and cousin dog Maggie.  We walked up and down aisles, sat and laid down at times and I even went through the check line with mom as she bought something.  It’s a lot of fun and the A/C makes it a cool place for training.  The floor is a little slick though.  One time when I laid down, Mom was telling me to stay and tested me by pulling on the leash.  I almost slid to her!!

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Another part of training is listening.  I have this one down!  It is the most relaxing of them all.  I really don’t know why mom worries about me passing my test.  Ms. Teresa, our teacher tells all the dog parents all kinds of important information.  When she does this I just lay down and relax so I’m not a distraction.  See here I am in action.  Two weeks ago the parents learned what to carry in our bags to take to the locations we visit.  Things like dog bowl and water, clean collars and leashes, toys, poop bags, a hair brush, etc.  Then this past week they learned more about the test.  How we will be in lines of 5 teams and have to sit/stay and a whole lot more.  Ohhh I hope I do well.

Speaking of test day, it is in 3 weeks so I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share with you between now and then.

-Lola


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This “Sit” is Getting Old

SittingOh My Goldeness! I’m soo tired of hearing mom say “Sit”.  The walks were really fun for a while.  There’s a new park in the neighborhood that we go to and say “hi” to everyone.  I really like it when the little kids come over to meet me.  I’m trying to show mom how patient I can be by letting them pet me all the funny ways little people do.  But between you and me, I think mom’s the one that needs a little help with patience.   We walk, then we stop, then she says it, she ALWAYS tells me to sit.  When is she going to learn I don’t want to sit every time we stop???  When I don’t sit, she tugs on my leash saying it again…then I get the push on my back end.  Every once in a while I just sit to give her a little thrill.  And boy does she get excited!!!  She yells “Yay!!!” rubs on me and gives me kisses.  I do like it when she does that but I’m not sure if I’d like it every time she has me sit…because as I’ve said before it’s a lot.

We learned a few new things in class this past week that I seem to be picking up OK.  Of course it starts with the sit, then mom will pull on the leash and I’m supposed to stay still.  Usually I do and that makes her happy…until the next time she says…”sit”.

This past week I met another new dog Chloe.  This is Chloe and Gracie.  Gracie is the Labradoodle that I met last week and Chloe is a Labrador from Chloe and Graciethe DFW Lab Rescue group.   Mom said that is where my cousin dog Bode came from.  They are both very sweet dogs and I like sitting next to their moms in class.  Especially Gracie’s mom, she often tells me how pretty I am.

That’s it for now.  Wish me luck with training my mom of the meaning of a walk this next week.  On a walk you’re supposed to “walk.”  Seriously do I have to be the one to explain this stuff to her?  After all she’s the one going to grad school, I would think she’d pick up on this stuff a little faster.

-Lola