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!
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!