Posted by: bree1972 | January 24, 2011

Busy Week! 1/25/2011

It’s going to be a busy week, and it’s already started!

 Today Bear and I worked at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, and we had a great time.  I’ve been working with Bear three times a day, trying to get him to jump into the Ford on his own.  Someone suggested that hotdogs are “dog crack”, and I now agree!  Half a hotdog, microwave it, chop in little pieces, and you have instant motivation.  Three times a day I climb into the back of the Ford (all the seats are down, so it’s just one big flat cargo area).  Then I use the hotdog pieces to entice Bear into the Ford.  After about fifteen minutes of coaxing, he will  jump in, gobble up the hotdog, and instantly jump back out.  I’ve been doing that for four days, and this morning was the big test.  I put Bear’s vest on him and attached his special ID badges to the vest.  Then I put cooked pieces of hotdog into a plastic bag, and we all scurried out to the car.  Since I couldn’t climb into the back wearing my regulation black slacks, I stood at one back door, held out the hotdog pieces, and called Bear to jump into the door across from me.  He didn’t.  Ted had to pick him up again.

I did feel better about his stress level going into Albany.  I took our old pet gate and bungee corded it across the back of the front seats so Bear can’t climb into the front with me.  In case you haven’t figured this out, my new Ford Escort now looks like the animal version of the Clampett truck on the Beverly Hillbillies.  But hey, anything to get the job done!  Anyway, with the open area between the seats closed up, Bear can no longer get into the front, and it only took him 2.6 seconds to figure that out.  Smart dog that he is.  So, instead of constantly trying to climb into the front, or pacing back and forth, he simply sat down and stuck his head between the driver side window and my head so he could get the full effects of the air vent.  And he was pretty happy.  Yeah!!! Progress!

Cheryl holds the leash of her giant Airedale, Buster, while a hospital employee pets him. Bear is used to being the largest dog anywhere we go, but Buster has him beat by about 2 inches at the shoulder. He's a beautiful dog!


"Wait! I'm supposed to be the tallest!"


Linda P., whose white dog Buddy (a terrier mix) stands in front of her, is getting a lot of attention from Buster, who thinks she has treats in her bag. On the left is Dewar, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel owned by Linda G.


A close-up of Buddy, who is a rescue. Linda P. said when they first got him he was practically hairless. Now he has the softest fur - almost feels like cotton. What a cutie!


Precious little Dewar. Amazingly, all four dogs that worked together today were male and had never seen each other before. But, except for a quick doggie "hello sniff", they got along perfectly and acted like they'd been hanging out together all their lives.


Bear – getting some attention from a hospital employee in Radiation Oncology.

 Today we went to Radiation Oncology, where we visited in the waiting room, and the dogs got some loving from a couple of waiting patients.  Mostly though, they visited with relatives and friends who had come with patients.  We quickly learned that when the dogs come into a department, their largest welcoming committee is staff, who all crowd around with oohs and ahhs and lots of petting.

From Oncology, Bear and I and Cheryl and Buster went to Behavorial Health, where a room had been designated for us.  Around 12 patients were waiting, and we had a great time visiting there.  We answered a lot of questions – Cheryl especially, because a lot of folks had never seen a Giant Airedale.  I talked with one gentleman who used to raise Goldens, and he and Bear really had a good time.

We met back up with the other two teams, and we all went to a Geriatric floor, where patients had been told we were coming and could request a visit.  Oh my gosh, I could have stayed on that floor the whole day.  Senior citizens are my passion, and they were all so sweet.  Bear was really in his element there and did a lot of that “pressing his head into laps” or putting his head down on the bed right next to a hand so the patient didn’t have to reach for him.  He and Buster were the perfect size to do that.  One little lady was sitting up in her chair, and Bear went over and put his head in her lap.  She took his head in her hands and just rubbed and rubbed behind his ears.  Then she looked up at me and said, “I don’t want to give him my cold.”  Precious.

After two hours of visiting, we were ready to leave.  We had spent a lot of time going from one department to another (Phoebe is a huge hospital), and we must have gone into and out of at least six elevators (another first for Bear – he did ok, although every time it would start he would jump a little).  The dogs encountered dozens of people who stopped and petted them and saw and heard things that a lot of dogs would not have been happy about.  Examples:  On the Geriatric floor, workers were on ladders working inside ceiling tiles.  The worker and the ladder were encased in plastic, and as we walked by, one of the workers just “popped out” of the plastic.  Bear had this, “Where’d he come from, Mom?” look on his face.  Then as we were getting on the last elevator, an alarm of some kind went off.  Again, they were calm as cucumbers.

When we were back outside, I asked the ladies to walk with me to the car because I was afraid we were going to each have to take one leg and lift Bear in.  But I opened one back door, told him to stay, walked around to the other back door, called him, and he jumped right in.  Yeahhhh, Bear!!!

On Thursday (Jan. 27) we visit two assisted living homes.  And Tuesday night (Jan. 25) I’ll be spending another night in the Sleep Center in Albany getting fitted for my alien mask. 

Take care, and I’ll talk to you later in the week. 

P.S.  I haven’t forgotten about posting the visit to the Flint Riverquarium.  I emailed a lot of the photos to the curator, hoping he would help me identify some of the fish and birds, but I haven’t heard back from him.  If I don’t hear from him in a few days, I’ll just “wing” it!




  1. Wow, Bear has made a LOT of progress in a short amount of time. That’s fantastic! I predict that once he figures out that putting on his vest = lots of lovin’ and treats, he’ll be begging to get in your car.

    Good luck with your next sleep test. I think it’s great that you’re sharing your experiences through your blog. Maybe you’ll inspire other people to get tested and treated.

  2. I took Blitzen to visit my grandfather in his nursing home once. Grandpa wasn’t all that impressed as we sat out in the hallway. His next door neighbor walked her wheelchair down and Blitzen went up to her (not trained so I was tring to keep him from being to rambunctious). She said she’d had Siberians, and you could tell how happy she was to see one again. As for elevators, you could tell Blitzen thought, “Why do you want me to go in this closet?”

  3. After 2 hours of being loved and petted, Bear was probably too pooped NOT to get into the car. He figured he’d get a nice nap in before he got home, so he could play by the time he got there. 😉
    Good luck on your sleepover tonight. The mask probably won’t be as bad as you think it will. We do get to see a picture of it…right? Sleep tight. 🙂

  4. What a wonderful thing you and Bear are doing. You and Bear bring cheer to all you meet. Happy to Bear jumbed into the Ford on his own. Good luck tonight at the sleep clinic. I agree with Downstate Barb that you may be a inspiration to others who have the same problem.

  5. Yeahhhh, Bear!!! Look at your car as Bear’s version of your sleep center experience. I may have a solution for your aquarium pictures….1st picture–FISH, 2nd picture–more fish….

    • . . . . third picture, bird. Next picture, another bird. I like it.

  6. All those beautiful dogs, and so well behaved. They’re a joy for us to just see – can only imagine how happy the patients and staff are to see them! What a great group.
    I’m holding good thoughts for you tonight! I can’t imagine how much your health will improve when you start sleeping properly. You’re going to wonder how you made it all this time, I think. Best of everything!

  7. Brenda,
    I’m praying for you to have the best sleep you have ever had tonight. My husband said, “I thought once I was wired up with that mess on my face I’d never sleep. But I went to sleep and slept all night.”
    So you are going to do just great. And you’re going to feel soooo good too when you wake up.

  8. Idea. Stuff some of those hot dog pieces into a kong, or some other sneaky chew toy and make that his reward for jumping into the car. Then the only time he gets it is during those trips. Maybe he’ll jump in just to get it.
    Here’s hoping it will work. Love your story about the visits. You can tell Bear loves to be hugged.

  9. What a wonderful time it looks like Bear and his new friends had visiting patients and staff! And I hope you had a good night sleep with your mask on.
    Happy Wednesday!!

  10. Yay for you and Bear. I’m so happy for you that you’re able to do these visits together. A friend of mine manages an assisted living facility and is able to take her dog with her to work every day. The residents are just so happy to have Maverick around and Maverick is just as happy to be there. She says she is always amazed at how the appearance of an animal can instantly calm some of the most agitated patients. Keep up the good work and don’t run out of hot dogs!!!

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