Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jock's Therapy Updates

Hi all! Thought I'd give an update on the therapy animal visits Jock and I do.

So, we had a few visits in October and November to the University of Iowa College of Law, where Jock provided much needed stress relief for future lawyers in the midst of their fall semester midterms and preparations for finals.

The students often get down on the floor with him. I usually have a towel for him to sit on, but he moves off it, as he sees fit, if he needs to cuddle up with someone.

He really seems to enjoy our visits to the law school. He usually has "repeat visitors" that love getting down on the floor and sitting with him for a few minutes, as time allows between classes. He also seems to have a "Corgi Fan Club" because there are a number of law students who LOVE Corgis. 

We even had a visit one day, when a bunch of students had called over one of their professors (in between classes) to introduce him to Jock. This particular professor actually got down on the floor - flat out on his back! - to get a selfie with Jock. He was excitedly uttering, "OMG, it's a Corgi! We have a Corgi here! I've got to get a pic!" SO FUNNY! 

I was impressed, though.  I guess I think of law professors as being straight-laced, in suits (or other very lawyerly outfits), and being quite stern or serious - not the kind of person in a nice sweater and corduroy pants, who laughs a lot and gets down on the floor with the visiting therapy dog. 

We weren't able to get out there during December, while they have finals. We will be back during the spring semester, though. I'm looking forward to it, because the students and faculty/staff appreciate it so much. They get so excited!

Jock and I also do regular visits, about once a week, to a local assisted living facility. We actually volunteer through a hospice service, who placed us with a few patients at this particular nearby facility. At this point, we're down to one patient assigned to us, with whom we visit once a week. We also stop and say hi to a few staff members who like to greet Jock as we walk down the halls. 

They usually have seasonal decorations both inside and outside the facility. I usually try to get a pic of Jock next to one of their cute decorations, when the seasons change. 

And lastly, Jock and I have an interview of sorts at the University of Iowa (UI) Stead Family Children's Hospital in January. I've been wanting to take him to visit a pediatric ward at the local hospital, but they apparently have a wait list or something at the two local hospitals. And the one has very limited hours in which they allow therapy animal visits (during the evenings when I'm busy taking my daughter to extracurricular activities). 

So I reached out to the UI Children's Hospital, to see if Jock and I can start volunteering there. They actually have a therapy animal program called "Furry Friends," where they have therapy animal volunteers come in on a regular basis to visit with the kids in the hospital. 

There is a detailed process to become a therapy animal team with the "Furry Friends" program, including a detailed application, background check, some training, and this interview. 

So, hopefully, we'll be able to start volunteering to cheer up the children at the hospital early in the new year! Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't take too long before Jock starts brightening these kids' days. 

Okay, that's it for now. Hopefully, I can do these therapy visit updates a little more regularly, and they won't all be this long. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's That Time of Year

Hi, Santa! I want some squeaky toys, and more tennis balls, and treats, and time to run around, and . . .

Will you play with me?!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A "Welcome Back" is in Order

Hi all: I know, I know! It's been MONTHS since I've last posted.

Gotta explain: my desktop computer died earlier this year, and it was my only computer. Didn't have a working laptop or tablet, either. Just the smart phone. And it's a pain in the you-know-what trying to do blog posts on a tiny screen typing with just my thumbs. So I "gave up" posting while I was temporarily computer-free.

I mean, I can use the public library's computers, but when I'm at the library, I only have limited time to get other, higher-priority things done, saving the blogging for "when I have time at the end" . . .which usually ends up not happening. And when I'm rushing through my limited computer time, the "creativity muses" don't tend to stop by. Hence, no blogging occurred for me at the library.

However, thanks to the recent generosity of my mom, she helped me buy myself a new laptop as a Christmas present from her (and myself).

So, this is a "welcome back" post.

Now, I know the last thing I posted about was about our dog, Jock, being a new Therapy Dog. Well, he's now got a year's experience under his belt! And he's getting really good at it.

As a matter of fact, we were visiting one of our regular hospice patients recently, and the fire alarm went off (it ended up being a false alarm). As I'm sure you know, it's an ear-piercing, uncomfortably loud sound, those fire alarms. Jock was a very good boy, though. He didn't cry, whimper, bark, or freak out in any way, during the fire alarm! He stood next to me quietly, but in an "on alert" stance, ears up.

When the alarm was silenced, one of the hospice employees commented on how calm Jock was during the alarm!

Here's Jock next to the bed of one of our regular patients. 


He and I have also been to the University of Iowa's College of Law a few times, providing law students with stress relief. Now, thats a lot of fun! They get really excited to see him, and so do the faculty members. One law professor even got on the floor and took a selfie with Jock! And we have some "regulars" who are HUGE Corgi fans, who always spend a few minutes with him. 

Bt the way, if you're on FaceBook, you can look for "TherapyDogJock" to find his page, where I post pics of him, and informational tidbits from his veterinarians' office and Pet Partners

I'll be back again, soon, to post something new! It's nice to be back. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jock the Therapy Dog!

Hi everyone! I'm here! I'm here! I haven't gone away forever. I have been busy doing some important community service with handsome Jock, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi. We are now a therapy animal team. Yep, Jock is a therapy dog!

In the autumn of 2016, Jock and I started our special journey. I actually had to start it on my own - I signed up with Pet Partners, a national organization that registers therapy animal teams and provides therapy animal handlers with learning opportunities via classes like "Infection Prevention and Control: Therapy Animal Visitation in Healthcare Settings" or working with specific sets of folks, such as veterans, or patients with dementia or Alzheimer's. 

I first had to take an animal handler course. Since there wasn't an in-person workshop available near me, I had the opportunity to take the online class. The class objective is to teach a (potential) therapy animal volunteer how to work with his or her animal in a variety of settings, as well as teaching the volunteer the basic ground rules of being a therapy animal team. The class also teaches the difference among: therapy animals, service animals, and emotional support animals. (You can read the full explanations here, on Pet Partners' "Terminology" page.)

Basically (to quote Pet Partners' "Terminology" page), therapy animals (like Jock) provide affection and comfort to various members of the public, typically in facility settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, and schools. These pets have a special aptitude for interacting with members of the public and enjoy doing so. Therapy animal owners volunteer their time to visit with their animal in the community.

Service animals (or assistance animals) on the other hand, are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. So a guide dog would fall into this category. These animals are allowed by law to go wherever their humans are allowed (restaurants, airlines, etc).

Emotional support animals, are also known as "comfort animals" and provide emotional or therapeutic support to their individual humans. (They don't have the same rights to go anywhere service animals go.) These animals are often dogs, but can be other animals, as well.

Speaking of other animals, did you know that Pet Partners registers nine species of animals as "therapy animals"?! Not only do they register dogs, they also register rabbits, certain breeds of birds (like parrots), horses, llamas, alpacas, rats, cats, and guinea pigs! Cool, huh?

Anyway, after I took the online class and passed the exam, I had to schedule an in-person evaluation for myself and Jock. We did that on November 20, 2016.

We had to follow the rules for a therapy animal visit (for canines), so within 24 hours of the evaluation, I had to ensure that Jock was bathed. I also had to be sure his nails were trimmed to an appropriate length, and didn't have any sharp spots.

He had to have his collar and leash that he'd be wearing on visits (just a standard nylon collar and leash - no training collars). He'd passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen test a couple years earlier, so this evaluation wasn't really "new" because the evaluation tested for similar things.

The evaluator had us perform various exercises, such as:
  • walking a pattern (to ensure Jock would "heel" appropriately and with good manners and not pull on the leash), 
  • sit (or down) and stay, 
  • not get upset at a sudden loud noise (a heavy (or metal) object was dropped a few feet behind him, and they watched to see his reaction - he could startle, but if he got scared or aggravated, that wouldn't be a positive thing), 
  • walking past a "neutral" dog (a calm one that couldn't care less that another dog was in the room with it), 
  • being brushed and handled by a person unfamiliar to him, 
  • his reaction to meeting someone in a wheelchair or walker . . . 
 and some other things.

Well, we passed! And within a few weeks, after ensuring Pet Partners had Jock's health form filled out by his veterinarian (detailing that he is in good health and is up-to-date on his vaccinations), we had our ID badge that I need to wear on all visits.  Therapy teams, by the way,  need to be re-evaluated every two years to ensure we remain equal to (or exceeding) necessary therapy animal standards.

So, what have we done as a therapy animal team so far? Well, our first therapy dog outing was to the University of Iowa School of Law (in Iowa City, IA) during finals week in December 2016, to provide stress relief for the University's law students. Jock really enjoyed having all these students coming up to him and petting him. And they were so grateful to have a few minutes with a cute dog.

There was one student in particular who was SO THANKFUL we were there. She couldn't stop telling me how much she appreciated having a therapy dog there, even if she could only spend five minutes with Jock. That right there made me so happy I decided to become a therapy dog team with Jock!

We have also started going to an assisted living facility near our home, to visit with a couple residents whose families requested a therapy dog visit. When Jock and I go there, we make sure to visit these two residents, but we also visit with other residents who happen to be in the day room/living room during our visits.

We need to wear special name badges at the assisted living facility. Jock gets his own badge, and his title is "Friendly Visitor." Awwwww! Here is his ID's photo (awwww!):

At the assisted living facility, there are two residents in particular who now seem to recognize us; their faces light up with joy when they see us. It is truly a special thing. The lady gets so happy and is so excited when I take Jock over to her to pet him. The other resident, while he seems to have no interest in petting Jock, seems to get a lot of joy simply by watching other residents (this "senior" lady in particular) fawn over Jock.

I'm hoping in the future (within the next couple months) to start volunteering occasionally at the nearby hospital - hopefully in the pediatric section. And, as a veteran myself, maybe Jock and I can start working with veterans in the future.

Oh, and if you want to learn more about Pet Partners, please check out the Pet Partners website.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Year in Books (for 2016)

Hi everyone! Happy New Year! 

I know my posts have been few (VERY few) and (VERY) far between during 2016. But once again, I’m back with my annual “books for the previous year” post. Lisa from the Two BearsFarm blog originally got me started on this meme a number of years ago. I can’t seem to find the blog that had originally hosted this meme, so I’m posting this as a stand-alone. But please! Feel free to visit Two Bears Farm because she has a lovely blog covering everything from rural living, kids’ adventures, exercise, horses, and more. . . .

I usually like to post my "My Year in Books" on December 31st, so my list is reflecting "the current year's reading," but Andrew was on the computer a lot these past few days. And we had been at my parents' for Christmas. Since I don't have a laptop, I wasn't able to work on this post until now. But here it is, finally - my "My Year in Books" for the year that just ended. . . .

Here’s the deal with this post: using only titles of books that you read during the year that just ended (2016), complete the prompts below. Try not to repeat any book titles.
Describe yourself: 

The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans

(Note: This is a re-read for 2016. I’d originally read it when it had first come out in 1995. So, a 21 year period between the first and second readings! I love the movie, which I re-watch once in a blue moon, and wanted to revisit the book. There are always extra (sometimes minute) details in the book that I sometimes forget about.

How do you feel: 

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

(This is another 2016 re-read. Well, I actually listened to it, to be exact. I was going back and forth between eastern Iowa and Northwestern Indiana a few times during the summer, and had already had the audiobook. I’d first read the book in, oh, probably 2007, after it was already in paperback, and I loved it! And then I’d seen the movie with Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah, and loved the movie, too. I felt that it was true to the book’s essence and not just “based on” the book. I’d listened to the audiobook in 2015, but listened to it again in 2016. It’s obviously a favorite.)

Describe where you currently live:

The Professor’s House, Willa Cather 

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Off the Grid, CJ Box

Your favorite form of transportation:

The United States Pony Club (USPC) Manual of Horsemanship, Susan E. Harris

Your best friend is:

The Highwayman, Craig Johnson

You and your friends are:

A Monstrous Regiment of Women, Laurie R. King

What's the weather like: 

Havana Storm, Clive Cussler

(Again, a re-read via audiobook. I did a lot of driving during the summer of 2016, so my library’s audiobooks were MUCH appreciated. When driving alone, I especially like listening to stories I’d thoroughly enjoyed having read in the past. Occasionally, I wasn’t able to really pay attention to the audiobook, like during heavy traffic in the Chicago area. So having read the book already (even if it had been a few years ago), I felt like I didn’t miss anything by not having paid attention for a certain section of the audiobook. When driving with my husband, I try to get books that we will both enjoy, but also I like getting books that I maybe haven’t had the chance to read, yet. When I’m the passenger, it’s easier to dedicate my full attention to the audiobook, because when I’m driving, I’m mostly focused on the driving part.)

Favorite time of day:

Night Fall, Nelson DeMille

(Yep. Another re-read via audiobook, checked out of our local library. My husband and I listened to this on our way from Northwest Indiana during our trip there July 22-31, 2016. I’d originally read this when it had first come out in 2004 and knew it would be a book he’d enjoy listening to, during our 8-hour one-way drive.)

What is life to you:
An Obvious Fact, Craig Johnson

Your fear:
The Emperor’s Revenge, Clive Cussler

What is the best advice you have to give:

Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life, Dara Torres

Thought for the day:

Christmas in Absaroka County, Craig Johnson

How I would like to die:
Cross Justice, James Patterson

My soul's present condition:
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King

So there it is. 

And now for a couple resolutions: keeping this blog from drifting away from me, like it has in the past few years! And continuing to read more than I did last year!  

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