I began this month with my annual eye exam and I did very well! I even received this cute bandanna for the 10th anniversary of ACVO & StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam! Thank you so much to Dr. McInnis and Eye Care for Animals in Columbia, MD for donating your time to help us service and working dogs so that we can continue our work happy and be healthy! If you are wondering, no I did not get glasses and my eyes are looking great!
The first Hero Dogs Class this month was awesome. We practiced getting “dressed” in our harness and a t-shirt, we practiced “leave it” with pizza, and we did “hup” over a jump. I was so tired after class that I took a nap in the car!
The next week I had therapy dog class! We learned to avoid cheesecake on the floor, to “visit” with patients in a bed, and to stay by our handlers no matter what, even with dogs around and food on the floor. We practiced “lap” while someone was eating and we had to not try to take his or her food. It sure was tempting but I tried my best!
This month’s first visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was amazing! We visited the young humans in a waiting room. One young boy was with a staff member, and he was terrified of me because he was scared of all dogs. I thought that was sad and I was up to the challenge! Christen told them that the hospital was the best place to meet dogs because we are very special dogs that are gentle. He asked if I bite… I said “Only my kibble!” Christen assured him I have never bitten anyone, human or dog. He them reached way high into the sky and over my head. I thought he wanted me to do my “touch” command. Christen then told him that although I don’t mind how I am petted, that many dogs do, and that the best way to pet a dog is to pet under my head, not over my head. She asked him if he would be scared if someone reached over his head like that, and he totally got it. The young boy petted me for a while and I think he really warmed up to me. I did many of my tricks to keep busy. Christen said that I do many tricks because I have a lot of energy, and the boy said, “I’m like that too!”
He then ran away and came back with his mom. She too was very, very scared of dogs. He told her I was okay to pet and that I don’t bite. She sat down in front of me and she was so scared. She reached over me again, and Christen showed her how to correctly greet a dog. Sometimes she would flinch and get nervous, but at one moment she put her hand out, not knowing that’s my signal for “say hello,” where I lay my head in her hand for a long time. She thought it was the best thing. There were other Red Cross dogs there with me too, but this family was very new to dogs and they felt safe with me.
I am proud of my mom for not giving up. We meet many people who are scared of dogs, and while we don’t push them, we do keep a conversation going to help dispel rumors about dogs, and we try to educate others on how to correctly interact with a dog. I truly believe being an ambassador for dogs will make it safer for kids and dogs in the long run!
Then we went to the amputee clinic. It was very crowded! I visited with many veterans and their families, and everyone was so friendly. One veteran told us about his pet snake that he wears on a pouch around the house and likes to be petted! While I was in the hallway one veteran wheeled past me and petted me as he went! Christen called it a “drive-by petting!” I ended my visit with my very favorite pediatric nurse! She always remembers my name!
I was pretty sleepy at Hero Dogs class that week from my allergies and allergy meds, but I tried to keep up. We practiced going “under” a bench, we did “brace” where I stand still (next to either side or in front of my handler) and don’t move as they use me to stand up. I did “take it” with keys and then “go” to sit the keys on a chair. We also did “take it” with a spoon and then “paws up” to hand the spoon to our person. Lastly, we did “turn” where we go counter-clockwise and sit between our handler’s legs while they are standing or sitting. It was sooo much fun! My service dog friend Hero Dogs York was there and my therapy dog friend Boomer was too!
All spring I have been trying a different allergy medication because although steroids have been helping me, they are not good for me to take for a long time. Unfortunately with many medications there are side effects, and this new medication made me very sleepy… but even worse than that, it made me drool a lot. As a therapy dog that makes my job kind of messy. So my humans took me to my allergist and got me a new treatment called Cytopoint. I get the treatment once a month at the office and I get a biscuit (or two… hehe) too! So far I have been less itchy! Any allergy dog will tell you nothing is 100%, but I am feeling a lot better. Now I get my allergy shots once a week and my Cytopoint once a month. I don’t mind shots and they always give me a cookie! I think that is, as the humans say, a “win-win!”
My humans had to go to a wedding this month, so I stayed with my grandparents for several hours and we had a blast! When Brendan and Christen got back I told them I needed my own bed, though! I just love going to sleep in my bed at bedtime! I love to work, but when I am done I like to go home and relax!
My last therapy dog visit of the month went very well. I visited the adult oncology clinic with Bear the chocolate lab. I did many tricks and I didn’t drool anymore because I was finally off of those drowsy pills. I can’t wait to go back and see everyone again! As soon as I start walking down those hallways I know I am at work! I think everyone should love his or her job! I know I do!
At the end of the month we celebrated Memorial Day by spending time with my Uncle Nate. He came into town for a couple days and we just think he is the best! I love the warm weather; well, I am getting more walks now that it has warmed up because my human likes the warm weather. So more time outside is the best!
Oh, I almost forgot! Christen was interviewed by a high school student from Kansas who was doing a project about unsung heroes! The heroes were mostly humans, but Jilian chose me! I am so honored! Along with her group they created a website: http://herodogcalvin.weebly.com
I wanted to include her email to my human as we appreciate the kind words very much!
“I wanted to say thank you for allowing my group and I to have Calvin as our unsung hero. As you know, my group and I created a website geared around Calvin and the purpose of a therapy dog. I truly believe that your interview helped make our website more touching and inspiring. I have learned so many things about therapy dogs during this project, and I have you to thank for that. Your blogs helped my group and I decipher who Calvin was and all the amazing things that he has accomplished. Calvin and you are truly unsung heroes, and I hope that my project allowed people to see the amazing things that Calvin does. Thank you so much for your flexibility and kindness.”
Thank you Jilian! I will try my best to keep up these blogs as you have stressed the importance of them to my human! I know you will do wonderful things!