Cali and I are working on becoming a visiting “therapy” dog team.
We met with the coordinator of the Wind River Canine Partners Therapy Dog Program this week for our first evaluation. We spent about an hour walking around in a Cabela’s store (very dog-friendly). Cali was excited about going shopping! And meeting new best friends!
I had warned the trainer that Cali’s main weakness is getting overly excited about meeting someone. Anyone. Especially men. She saw exactly what I meant when Cali pulled, hard, toward her. A random stranger in a parking lot? Clearly Cali’s long-awaited best friend. Oh wait, that clerk just inside the door: Definitely a best friend. Oh, there’s another one … and a shopper. Oh! A family with a kid!! A dog in a shopping cart!
After greeting a few people, Cali got down to shopping. It’s hunting season in Montana, so … lots of weird lure-type things with feathers? The plastic packaging wrap did not throw Cali off the scent, and she found them fascinating. She was not at all interested int he fake and dyed feathers, only the natural ones. She loved the fishing lures too. Mild curiosity about the actual equipment. No interest in plastic antlers.
Then … the toy department. The hobby horses who made neighing and galloping sounds were mildly interesting. But the small rocking horse, pink, with sparkly green eyes: Downright terrifying. It had a face. It moved unpredictably. And it was looking at her. She was not going near that thing no way no how … well, maybe just a quick sniff. Oh, wait, someone dropped a cookie nearby; maybe she can just reach over and … it’s looking at her again!
That was scary.
More people to greet, more toys to sniff. What’s this? A fake man with no head? Humans have the weirdest toys … Uh oh, that horse again. Huh, maybe it’s okay with cookies …
It was a tiring trip. Cali slept all the way home.
Cali passed with flying colors. Perfect temperament, obviously loves meeting people.
The handler? She needs some work.
Once we’ve improved our handling skills, we can start visiting. Cali would like to try visiting people at the hospital or maybe the veterans center. Anyplace without rocking horses is fine.
5 thoughts on “Cali Is Excited about Meeting Her New Best Friends”
[…] A few months ago, I wrote about Cali’s goal of becoming a visiting “therapy” dog. […]
Darn– What am I going to do with that rocking horse I got Cali?
Koala might want it. She’s not afraid of anything! (And she loves to torment Cali)
Rehab is a great idea! We’ll probably start at the hospital — they want dog teams in the ICU and Trauma waiting areas. Seems like a good place to start. She settles down after a very excited initial arrival frenzy … we’re working on it!!
Really brings back memories of when Texi and I began doing pet therapy work when she was just a year old, We chose an assisted living complex, so the older, slower moving, quieter residents helped her be less excited. Lasted about a year, and I realized she was bored, so the found a hospital where she could assist with patients in the rehabilitation center – a much better fit for my now calmer little girl. She loved it and so did I – we visited there for another 9 years before I retired her – she wasn’t ready, but I was.