28 January 2008

Hey now we have Another hobby.


OK. First of all, the Furry Friends are just nice therapy dog volunteer people, and are not Plushies. Or Furries. These are a very different thing than Furry Friends. Don't even ask me about them. Just google it. You'll see. My mom would not approve of Plushies. Probably not your mom either.

So we made the journey over the mountain to the land of San Jose, to a PetCo in a wet, deserted strip mall somewhere in Sunnyvale. Over here on this side of the hill, we are all communist, tofu eating surfers. On that side of the mountain, where a snowplow sat waiting at the summit, it is the Silicon Valley. I used to go there during the dotcom, to big office parks with big parking lots and security badges and stock options. There are a lot of car dealerships and nail places. I get lost there. It freaks me out. Our class was in a dog training pen in the back of the dog food warehouse, taught by a dog trainer who also did the evaluation. The dogs had to be ok with a wheelchair, a walker, socializing with other dogs and humans, and basic obedience skills. Piece of cake. Gustavo who does not habitually pee on contraband, just eat it, tried to pee on a walker. And he tried to jump into the wheelchair. Oops. I was MORTIFIED but no points taken off. The evaluator said he was great.

He was a spaz. She gave a talk first about pet therapy and I had to keep him doing downs and sits and nose touches and tricks and focusing because he was WOUND up. He's never been in a dog class environment, and he just wanted to be a puppy. I used to teach puppy class. I know how it goes. He seemed to be one of the less calm dogs there, but I kept him the most busy. Some of the dogs just layed down and slept through the lecture. I think my dogs of that relaxed sleeping type ended with Timmy. But he passed, we got our pictures taken for our Security Badge (RIGHT-San Jose, man!), and we just wait to get processed by Homeland Security so he can go to the nursing home in Capitola every third Sunday and get petted. He can get away with being a spaz because he weighs 12lbs.

Furry Friends goes to juvenile halls, children's shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, and alzheimers units. Visits from the animals (not just dogs-there was rabbit in the evaluation class and I guess they have all kinds of animals in the program) provide a distraction for kids and adults whose lives revolve around pain, illness and trouble. That's from the manual. I've been reading through the manual and it's just so cool. They gave out a dvd and it made me cry.

It's sort of ironic I have one of the most social and sweet dogs I've ever known, and I have one of the most unsocial and unsweet dogs that I've ever known. Otterpop likes 5 whole people in the whole world. 7 if you count 2 girls at the barn that are winning her over. Gustavo LOVES everyone. Timmy and Ruby fall somewhere in the middle, but I don't think they'd want to do this. Gustavo is made for it. I am not even going to complain about having to wear the t-shirt and use the purple leash and put a scarf on the dog. You'll see. No dog scarf complaints, not a one.

6 comments:

Jen Wood said...

Congrats Gustavo!! Sometimes random people bring random dogs to hospice and want to visit patients we say no and it kinda sucks...not sure why we don't connect with furry friends!
Went to cow palace this weekend and wanted to see 8 month old pug doing fly ball demo, but too many people in the way! Lastly, is the gray one ruby or otterpop?

team small dog said...

Yes you should contact them. Maybe they don't go to hospice because it isn't in a facility but in private homes? Not sure. I am a Very Novice Pet Assisted Therapy Person.

I hope you bought lots of cow palace dog scwhag!

Otterpop is sort of speckly gray for a black dog.

Deb said...

Congrats to both of you! Gustavo sure is a sweet little guy. Kacie loves him and Jim says they always want to romp, but some more sophisticated dogs make them behave. I better teach her the agility side line protocol before she gets out of hand like Kip used to be.

team small dog said...

Thanks!

I have been taking Gustavo to every trial I go to, just about, and spending a lot of time with him focusing only on ME when dogs are running because he would preferably be freaking out with his weird monkey sound and trying to get out on the field to run. He has improved tons and is WAY less embarrassing since he can now walk around a ring and not look like some weird little animal from another planet bouncing 8' in the air at the end of his leash, screaming. He has to stay in the car at Dirt Night though. That would be too much.

Elf said...

Congratulations on your therapy dog achievement. Go get those walkers!

-ellen

team small dog said...

Oh my god. I hope he does not pee on someone in a nursing home. I do not want to get kicked out of pet therapy for having a pee-er.