- Name: Calvin Leon Graham – “Calvin”
- Breed/Color/Sex: Labrador retriever, yellow, M
- DOB: December 31, 2012
- Current Status: Therapy Dog
- Donor: Milltowne Labrador Retrievers (Mario Cilia & Betty Dust)
- Puppy Raiser: Christen W. & Brendan B.
- Puppy Sponsor:
- Puppy Scholarship: John Prusak
I started the month off like I always do at The Armed Forces Retirement Home in DC. I just love visiting all my friends. We sat outside and just received lots of pets! It was the best! I said hi to my Veteran friends that I had met before and to those who I had just met. The great thing about AFRH is that there are always new Veterans to visit with and new therapy dogs to welcome to the PAL (People Animals Love) pack!
The next day I went to Hero Dogs therapy dog class and practiced some more for the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test. I won’t bore you with the details, but I did my best ever at ignoring other dogs when my handler was visiting with another human. Hopefully once I take and pass the CGC test we will start working on some more fun activities and tricks!
We have been learning how to help with Animal Assisted Therapy. Many people have been asking what that means so I thought I’d tell you here. Animal Assisted Therapy or AAT is very similar to physical therapy except us dogs get to help make it a lot more fun! If you have difficulty with mobility you might try and walk us on a double leash so our handler has one end and you have the other. If you have lost strength in your arms or legs you might throw a ball for me to bring back to you, or my favorite you might kick the ball so I bring it back to you. There are so many things AAT can help a person with based on their particular needs. Animal Assisted Therapy sessions are supervised by a medical professional (physical therapist, etc.) with the assistance of a dog handler. Together we are a team to help heal and strengthen those who need it! Sometimes a human has the ability to do the task the medical professional is asking them to do, but they aren’t very motivated by themselves to do it, so us dogs are glad to lend some encouragement via tail wags! Us Hero Dogs therapy dogs are the perfect dogs for the job because we were already trained to assist a person who needs a lending paw. I haven’t gotten real life experience yet, but I hear from Grant, Scotty, and Radar that it is a blast and I hope to join them soon!
It was HD Ruby’s first birthday this month and we decided to meet up with her, HD Grete, and SD Chloe for a dip in the Loch Raven Reservoir. I had never been swimming in anything that wasn’t a pool before so I was pretty excited! Also, three girls all to myself... well, Grete is a little too young for me, but mmm mmm Ruby is one beautiful Labradorette! We met at Ruby’s house for a romp in her yard and then we drove over to a path where we hiked to our swimming spot. Then I got my long line on and I jumped right in after the girls! It was so much fun! I even got to retrieve a tennis ball from the water! Christen said it was so wonderful to see me swimming. I don’t know why she was so impressed that I knew how to swim. After I got all tired and muddy we headed back to the car. It may have been Ruby’s birthday, but it sure felt like mine! It was a blast! Oh I almost forgot! Rheana, Grete’s puppy raiser, saved us from a big scary dog that was off leash and we are so thankful for her! We certainly were not as brave as her!
This month Hero Dogs held its annual Volunteer Appreciation and Open House! It was so much fun! First thing when I got there my breeders Betty and Mario met me. It is always great to see them! I wagged my tail as fast as I could! I showed them a lot of what I have learned in the past year. Us dogs did our demonstration where we show what we have learned. I did “Lap” and “Paws up” on Brendan in a wheelchair. I can do a lot more fun tricks, but everyone wanted to see what I do at therapy visits. The Hero Dogs 2016 calendars, which my humans designed, debuted that day and I am so proud of them for doing a great job! Before the end of the Open House all the yellow Labs and golden retrievers were on a team verses the black Labs! We had to pick up a rubber ducky out of the pool and run to our team’s bucket and drop it in until there were no more rubber ducks, and we won!!! Yay yellow Labs and golden retrievers! Of course that was just for fun. We are all winners! At the end there were drawings to see who won prizes and Jennifer let me pick out the winner of the biggest prize, the 50/50! I would like to pick all the drawings from now on - it was so much fun! We headed home after such a long exciting day!
The first day of summer was this month and I love summer... well, except for the heat. I give up playing ball in the backyard pretty quickly so I try to play in my pool or play inside when it’s really hot. My humans are always nice to check the pavement with their hands before going for a walk. If the pavement is too hot we walk on the grass and I practice not sniffing everything.
I had my first family reunion this month! I went back to the place I was when I was a teeny tiny puppy, called Milltowne Labrador Retrievers! I showed Christen and Brendan where my whelping box was and best of all I got to play with my litter mates, Emjay my big brother, and Stormy, my little sister, who are both yellow Labradors like me! I also got to introduce my mom Twist who is a black Labrador retriever to my human parents! It was so awesome! In the backyard I found some mud and I rolled all over in it and even slid my ears in it! It was so much fun! I got hosed off though and I didn’t find that very fun. In the house there were so many toys!!! I didn’t know which one to pick! I found out my sister already passed her CGC test so I guess I need to catch up! She also competes in dog shows! I am so proud of my doggie family!
At the very end of the month my humans said they had a lot to do so that I could start visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They left one morning while I napped. They went back another day to get more done there, and they say they have a little more to finish before I can begin my part of the application process. I don’t really know what they are talking about, though. I just want them to finish whatever it is they need to do so I can visit more Veterans and spread more smiles! I’m sure we are getting closer though!
Next month is one of the best months for our country because there’s a paw-triotic holiday coming up! I can’t wait for more adventures!