Sunday, August 15, 2010

NIKKI's reputation

I am not too sure how it happened but NIKKI is getting a reputation at the hospital. It seems like we see different people every week and granted we do repeat the same tricks each time but I didn't think it would come to this. It seems she has a reputation as "the praying dog". When I go to the patient floors someone will ask "Is this the praying dog?" or I go around the corner and I hear someone whisper "that's the praying dog". But last week NIKKI's reputation finally got her an invitation to a church!! We were walking down the hallway to visit the patients and there was a group of people sitting with their pastor. NIKKI quickly won favor with all the folks as she allowed them to pet her...for those who know NIKKI this is not exactly a sacrifice for her. They all just seemed to be so impressed by her calmness and willingness to be petted. I guess I was surprised at how much they liked her for just allowing them to pet her so I said "You really haven't seen anything yet." There in the middle of the main hospital corridor NIKKI did a little demonstration of her skills - she turned, high fived, sat pretty - you know all the usual things. I pulled out her words and showed them how she can "read". By then there was a crowd gathering around us! I usually am a little cautious with her "say your prayers" trick as I don't want to offend anyone but since I did see that the pastor had a bible I figured it was safe to "pray". That is when she got the invitation to come to their church! All I envisioned was NIKKI up at the alter praying with the congregation! All kidding aside, meeting these people and having a few minutes to connect is the whole reason I take NIKKI to the hospital. Like I have said before, you never know what you will get when you go to the hospital with a dog and this day was no exception. Meeting these people warmed my heart. I have emailed the pastor and sent him NIKKI's video link. Who knows - perhaps we will visit a church one day.

Last week was my final visit to the hospital for the summer. I will resume my once per month visits starting in September. I must tell you that NIKKI does know her way around that hospital. She knows where the volunteer office is and eagerly enters the door to get attention from Beth and Katherine. She seems to know the floors we visit and she definitely knows how to get to my husband's office. Once she figures out we are done visiting patients and headed in his direction there is no stopping her. For some reason my husband Mark is her favorite. As soon as we round the corner to his office she is pulling harder than ever and doesn't stop until she has found him! From there our routine is to go to the cafeteria so that I can get a drink. Mark walks with us and waits outside of the cafeteria with her. He never fails to draw attention from the hospital staff. He is more than patient explaining NIKKI's work and always includes that "this is my wife's dog". I don't think Mark will ever admit to even liking NIKKI but - and don't tell him I said this - he really does love her - it is written all over his face! After the cafeteria, Mark will walk us to the exit and we say our goodbyes. It is at this point that NIKKI starts checking back to see if by chance Mark has changed his mind and is coming with us. So it is no wonder that on the way out she crashed into one of the pillars of the covered walkway! Yes, crashed into the pillar while leaving the hospital! I was walking and had just happened to look down at her when I notice that she is inches from the pillar and was looking back! There was nothing I could do but laugh (and send Mark a text message that NIKKI crashed into a pillar while looking for him!!). This did not stop her though she continued to look for him all the way to the car. I figured that once we were in the car she would finally get over him but - take a look at this picture....
She is sitting in the back of the car - looking in the direction of the stairs - still waiting for him! A genuine display of a loyal dog. Surely this will win Mark's heart!! (Sorry for the poor quality - I took it with my cell phone!!)

I will miss my weekly visits to the hospital. It truly is a blessing to meet so many neat people. NIKKI really does make a difference for the patients (and visitors) - sometimes more than others but none the less I believe she always touches someone's heart. I have asked them to keep my weekly spot for next summer as I am already looking forward to resuming this work with NIKKI.
I was just thinking...maybe Mark should start bringing NIKKI to the hospital??! What do you think?
It's back to the real world (work) tomorrow! : )

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Talking about NIKKI

NIKKI and I had the opportunity to meet with these folks last night. We had been invited to talk about what we do as a therapy dog team in the schools and in the hospital. NIKKI absolutely loved everyone as the affection was freely flowing! We had a good discussion about NIKKI's training and she showed them many of her tricks. We also talked about why she wears her vest and how to greet a working dog. NIKKI's "reading" was a hit. Almost everyone had the opportunity to give NIKKI a command and to ask a lot of great questions too!