I am so EXCITED to tell you some big news that happened this month! I became a Red Cross therapy dog! I am now a part of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center therapy dog pack! I have been working towards this for the past year and I am so honored to be welcomed into a very special pack. We are such lucky dogs to have humans that take us to go help other humans when they aren’t feeling their best. I feel very proud to work at “The President’s Hospital.” Why, you may ask?
Well, Christen tells me that everyone we meet during every therapy dog visit, no matter what location, are very special, but that the people we visit at Walter Reed are special because as Veterans (and their families) they have given a lot to make life in our country the best that it can be. I love my life and I am very thankful for the Veterans who made it possible for me to enjoy my walks and eat my kibble. The least I can do is visit with them to help them feel better.
I started my month at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. My friend Dolley was there and we got lots of pets. Hopefully this will be the last month that it is hot out! We met with everyone outside first and then we met with everyone inside. I love going to AFRH because I get to see friends old and new, with two legs and with four!
The next week I began my visits to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, or WRNMMC for short. For my first visit we all met in a room to greet one another. I got my Red Cross bandana and my humans got blue vests with red crosses on them. We then split up into teams of two humans and two dogs, but my group had three dogs and four humans. Bear (the human) and his wife showed us all the rules on how you meet people in patient rooms, how to read the precautions, and how to ask if the patient would like to visit with us. Before the humans go into each room they have to put this foam stuff on their hands, and they have to do it when they leave the room, too! On our first visit we visited patients on general surgery floors, the Oncology floor, and the Wounded Warriors floor. It wasn’t that busy my first day, but I learned how to lay my head on the bed next to the patients so they could pet me. If the patient couldn’t reach me I would do silly tricks for them such as “Spin,” “Wave,” or “Take A Bow.” I had such a good time visiting with each and every patient. I even got to pee on the 7th floor! Don’t worry, I didn’t “Get Busy” in the hospital… they have a little garden where we can take potty breaks. By the end of my visit I was so tired! I slept all the way home, and I only woke up to eat and potty, but other than that I slept through to the next day! When I sleep like that after a visit that means I had a great day! A tired dog is a happy dog!
For my second visit to Walter Reed, instead of visiting patients in their rooms, we visited waiting rooms, chemotherapy rooms, pediatric rooms, and physical therapy rooms. We got paired with good friends of ours, Pat and Rika Dog (black German shepherd)! I was so happy when I heard the word kids! I LOVE kids! We visited a waiting room where I got lots of pets and I visited kids of all ages. Some were just learning to walk whereas others were taller than Christen, but that isn’t surprising – hehe! From there we made a quick stop in Children’s Oncology, then on to Adult’s Chemotherapy. In the chemotherapy room everyone is in one big open space. There are chairs that turn into beds and everyone just hangs out together while they get their medicine. I went up to each person who wanted to visit me and laid my head on their laps. I did tricks for everyone too!
Christen told me “Leave It” when I found a pill on the floor. You see, I get pills every day for my allergies and I like my pills very much because they often come with peanut butter, but these were not mine so I left them alone. I followed Rika’s lead this time and I was much calmer than during my last visit. I finally felt like I was getting the hang of this Red Cross thing! The only trouble I had was in the carpeted areas where I would dive down to smell the floor! I did this because it smelled so AMAZING! Christen said we need to work on this as I really, really like to smell! At the end of our visit we went to Physical Therapy. I got to meet some wounded warriors and they were so awesome to me! They were in the middle of their appointments, but they didn’t mind stopping to pet me!
Christen said she was so proud of me because I wasn’t unsure or scared at all, as some of the people we met with have different kind of hands than she does, but I don’t care. They were petting me and that’s all that matters! Sometimes I wish I could tell humans to stop focusing on their differences and they will see how we are all so similar! We all want to be happy and enjoy life! Dogs do it every day. Just because one dog can’t hear, or one has three legs, or one is small, or one is big… I don’t notice that… I just want to play! Christen thinks that’s why we help those we visit with so much, because no matter what they are going through we don’t see them any differently than any other human!
Later that week we had Hero Dogs class where I ran through a tunnel! I LOVE tunnels! I wish I had a tunnel of my own! I jumped over a hurdle with the “HUP” command and I even teetered on a totter! I practiced putting groceries in a basket and carrying it, but I must admit I am way better at carrying things at home than at Hero Dogs. When I am at Hero Dogs I am so excited to be there that I end up ripping up the groceries! I can’t help it! There are DOGS and FOOD! My two favorite things, so I get really energetic.
That weekend Brendan and I had a big performance! Brendan was invited to perform at WOOFSTOCK in Harrisburg, PA. I have never been to Pennsylvania before; I think I may have gone through it. We got up early that morning with all of Brendan’s music equipment and the CDs that Brendan has been working very hard on. At Woofstock there are many dogs of all kinds walking by! I took a walk around the event when we first got there, then Brendan performed under a tent, while Christen sat with me selling our CDs. I had a lot of fun just sitting in my chair or on my mat watching all the other dogs go by. As a therapy dog I get to sit on chairs now, but I didn’t realize how much attention that would bring. Everyone had to visit with the dog on a chair!
At one point there was a costume contest that was so much fun! I walked around again, but this time it was so packed so I used my Hero Dog skills and ignored the other dogs in the crowds as we walked through. We found this nice path right by the river and it was quite peaceful! Brendan played his last set and we talked to many people who were interested in our album “Songs My Dog Wrote.” The people who invited us to play were so good to us and very helpful! They run an Internet radio station called Pet Guardians Radio! We can’t wait until our next performance! Here’s a video we made from Woofstock: you can watch it here.
The very next week I had my third visit to Walter Reed. I was teamed with Mike and his dog Bear. Bear is a VERY pretty ten-year-old chocolate lab! We also went around with Pat and Rika, and Timmy the French bulldog and his human Mary Ann who are new to the program, too! We visited the MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit) for the first time. I met with some patients and family members who were having a really hard time. The Chaplin there… the man who kept saying “Bless You” when he petted me… would suggest people that he thought could really use a visit. The thing is, when we go in the room no one is in a bad mood, so he must be lying. I have not met a single person, patient, staff, or volunteer in a bad mood at that hospital. Christen said it’s because we dogs are magical… I hate to disappoint Christen, but I am surely not a unicorn! If I were magical I would make food appear all the time!
I saw some medical equipment that I have never seen before, which looked a lot like what the fireman wore when I met him. There are lots of rolling things in the hospital too. About halfway through our visit I am pretty tired and I frog dog out… where I spread my legs out on the floor while lying down so I can rest, and everyone thinks I am so funny! We visited Pediatrics. The kids were so happy to meet me, as I was to meet them! One little girl was petting Timmy and you could see on the heart rate monitor that her heart rate went down… maybe we dogs are magical after all!
I love the crisp autumn air! I can take longer walks now that it is cooler. I enjoy my pumpkin in my Kongs even more when it is fall. Christen says she isn’t made for this cold weather, but I help her enjoy it because I love it so much! I can’t wait to see what next month will bring!