Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Best Buddies

NIKKI has been doing some work in the schools but as I said in my last post it is a busy time of year in the school and squeezing NIKKI visits in is wanted but difficult. Last week NIKKI did get her bath by the 3, 4 and 5 years in one of my preschool classrooms. They had been "studying" bubbles and bathing NIKKI was the perfect activity to go along with this. As soon as I have the pictures I will post them. It was an awesome activity where the kids had do what they could do to reach NIKKI. For some that was walking up to NIKKI, others needed their gait trainers and others just needed help reaching out to touch NIKKI. I think the kids enjoyed it and I am thankful for the help of the "red room" staff who always love NIKKI's visit and are willing to do whatever to make the visit fun!

Today we got to see Sam again. I just love visiting with Sam. He always says something sweet. Today he said something about NIKKI being his "best buddy". I wish I could describe how incredibly cute NIKKI and Sam are together. I don't think my words can adequately describe his interactions with NIKKI. Unfortunately we did not get to go out to the playground because it started to rain. Nancy, his therapist, wanted to have Sam work with his new braces for his feet. She wanted to work on stooping (which is different when wearing braces) so we had Sam put NIKKI's treats onto the floor for NIKKI. He helped NIKKI work on her "leave it" command for her upcoming Canine Good Citizen test. Needless to say both did well - Sam and his stooping and NIKKI and her leaving the treat until he gave her the OK command to eat it. We also visited 2 of our regular classrooms and read the our story of NIKKI going to school. It was fun and the kids really responded well to NIKKI today.

NIKKI has also been working hard at dog class and preparing for her upcoming Canine Good Citizen test (CGC). I had my daughter come with me on Saturday to take some pictures. So below are pictures of NIKKI and I working on our skills....

NIKKI does amazingly well considering that class is right next to a very large dog park. In this picture above she is watching me. I wish I could say it is because she wants to please me so much that she is so attentive but I do have a piece of cheese in my hand and she is crazy for cheese.
Here NIKKI is working on a stay. Again very attentive because of the cheese!

NIKKI is awesome about sitting when we stop walking. She really does well in the class except.....

sometimes she gets tired of waiting for the next activity and as you can see here she starts barking! If you look closely at her she has her nose up in the air and she is barking! I am trying to give her a calming signal by turning away from her but as you can see on my face - that is not working! We have decided that the cheese might just be too high level of a treat for her since she loves it so much. When we first started class I think she needed this level of a treat in order to tune out the other dogs and the dog park and attend to me. Now that she has the routine down I think I need to lower the intensity of the treat. Next week I am going to try something bland like Cheerios!

Dog class has been really great for NIKKI and I. We have learned a lot and even earned the title of "Student of the Month"! Dog Haven (who we take class from) has created a link from the home page of their website linking to a little story about NIKKI and I and to NIKKI's video! You can check that out here. If you look around the site you can also find a little story about MaryLou and Annabel another p4p volunteer.

Thank you all for checking out NIKKI's video on Youtube....we have over 600 views!! I have gotten wonderful feedback from teachers and parents of the students in the video. Today as NIKKI and I were walking down the hall at one of the schools I can hear people behind me saying "There is that wonderful dog in the video." That just makes me smile! It makes me so incredibly happy to help others through this wonderful dog. Here is the link again to the video - please please share it!!


Thursday, May 13, 2010

NIKKI's Video

This time of year is always slow for a working school dog. The kids have so many other things to occupy their time....end of grade tests, field trips, assemblies, field days, etc. And for me, I am inventorying equipment, attending what seems like endless IEP and transition meetings, planning purchases for next year and working on transitioning the kids to their new schools. When a physically disabled student moves from one school to another there is a lot of planning behind the scenes - installing equipment, modifying the learning environment, planning meetings, moving equipment and work orders, work orders and more work orders! Since all this activity doesn't leave much time for a hard working therapy dog and not much to blog about - let me show you what I have been working on! Click here to view NIKKI's video! If you are one of my blog "followers" you should recognize some familiar faces.
But before you think that NIKKI is getting too lazy relaxing at home...know that she is going to school tomorrow to get a "bubble" bath by a bunch of 3, 4 and 5 year olds! It should be fun and hopefully I will have some pictures to post!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It was worth it...

NIKKI and I went to the hospital yesterday. I went a little early as my daughter had a dance recital rehearsal and I thought if I went early I would get out early so I could get there to help set up for the reception after the recital....I thought wrong! Normally, NIKKI and I go to the adult psychiatric unit and the pediatric floor, but today we had a special request to visit a patient on the med surg floor. We stopped in to see this patient but he was still eating so we went to the psychiatric unit. Typically when we arrive on this floor the patients are by the nurses station resting - having just finishing breakfast and having their morning medication. We don't usually stay long since most are sleeping but yesterday there was a lovely lady wide awake and definitely all about dogs. We talked for a few minutes as she pet NIKKI and all of a sudden an alarm goes off! The nurses start running and the lady tells me that someone must need help in the shower. I look around, no nurse...just me and a few patients. Hmmm...a little uncomfortable but I decided I had better wait until someone got back....not that I would know what to do if something happened but I thought it would be best...just in case! What I didn't remember was I was stuck on the unit anyway as the nurses have to "buzz" me out of the unit! Fortunately for me this sweet lady told me about her 3 husbands while we waited for the nurses to get the shower situation under control! I returned back to the med surg floor and visited with the elderly gentleman who had requested a dog visit. He was very weak and his lovely wife was there taking care of him. NIKKI got up on his bed so he could pet her. It was a really sweet visit...the gentleman told me that he was married for 58 years! When I asked him what his secret to this long and happy marriage - he looked to his wife and said "Her". Very sweet. Once again I take NIKKI to the hospital to give of myself and the patients give more to me than I give them! I am always surprised how this works! On our way out of the room another lady stopped and asked if I would take NIKKI in to visit her father. She explained that her dad had had a rough night and a visit from a dog would just brighten his day. I do think it worked as he grinned (toothless) from ear to ear when NIKKI jumped up on the bed and laid her head on his lap. He told me all about his dogs. It makes people so happy to talk about their beloved dogs. I am glad I got to meet this man. I hope we made his day just a little brighter.
NIKKI is always popular in the hallways of the hospital and yesterday she was exceptionally popular! We must have stopped every five feet so someone could pet NIKKI. NIKKI loves these interactions as she lives to be petted! People are always so kind to ask if they can pet her....I always tell them that NIKKI would be disappointed if they didn't! By now we are at the hospital for about an hour and have yet to see the kids. I could still get out in time to get to the dance rehearsal but I never like to rush the kids. Off to the pediatric floor we went. Angel, the child life specialist, met us at the nurses station and we started our rounds. Mark, my sweet husband, was also at the hospital working. He has never seen us work before and wanted to see what NIKKI does with the kids. He quietly joined us on the pediatric floor. Unfortunately, Mark could not stay with us long as NIKKI adores him and when she saw him she lost her focus as to why we were at the hospital! Focus regained, we resumed our visits. There was a little 21 month old with the same color hair as NIKKI who loved giving NIKKI treats. The young man who only could lay on his side as he was in pain but could pet NIKKI at the side of the bed. And the mom who must have seen us before because she said to her son "This is the praying dog"!!! NIKKI is always quite impressive with her tricks! But the best part of yesterday was the little girl who was walking in the hallway as we were walking out of another room. She was crying and her mom and the nurse were trying to help her walk. The little girl was hanging onto her mom and her mom was sort of forcing her to walk. I always carry a few things with me just incase things like this happen so I pulled out my extra leash and offered for her to "walk" NIKKI. She took the leash, mom stepped back, the crying stopped and we made 2 more laps around the floor walking NIKKI! It is funny how something so simple could make a difference. I had to apologize to Angel for just jumping in like I did - it was sort of a reflex....it was the kind of thing I do in my real job! But all was well and everyone seemed grateful for my intervention.
By this time were were at the hospital for 2 hours. - 45 minutes longer than normal! So much for getting out a little early! I had to skip lunch to get to rehearsal but you know what...it was well worth it....making a few peoples days a little brighter is far more important. : )