I know it has been a long time since you last heard from me, but please don’t think it was due to Labrador lassitude. Quite to the contrary! You see, I have been so busy with so many things that I have not had time to put pen to paper or paw to computer.
Last you heard from me, I was honorably discharged from Hero Dogs as a service dog in training due to the misfortune of having torn both my ACLs. After surgery and rehab, I went to live permanently with my puppy raiser. Being back home was an easy adjustment. But, there were changes. Sammie, my cousin who had been a service dog in training was released from the Hero Dogs program and stayed to live with us. Being a service dog was not the thing for her. She is now working as a reading dog, and she excels at it. I love having her around! Sadly, Jake, my beloved black Lab friend and mentor, passed away at the age of 12. He helped raise me and was always kind and very patient with me. I still miss him.
As you know, I love to work and am well trained to help people. So, after my recovery, the logical next step was to become a therapy dog. My puppy raiser and I quickly hatched a plan for my future. I passed the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Therapy Dog (TD) tests and began visiting several nursing and retirement homes. However, I quickly tired of just visiting and being petted. As I said, lassitude, Labrador or otherwise, is not a word that in any way describes me. I needed to do more. Fortunately for me and my buddies Grant, Teddy, and Radar, and thanks to the vision of Ms. Amber, we were able to start an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington. We go there twice a week to work with physical therapists, and, under their guidance, we help motivate patients and assist them with their exercises. Patients who were reluctant and even recalcitrant about going to physical therapy are now eager to come. After all, they get to work with us!
Grant, Teddy, and I have been so successful with the AAT Program and are so happy doing it, that in the fall, we will begin working in the Physical Therapy Department at the George Washington University Hospital. We recently visited the hospital, and I can tell you that it is a big, busy place. As we went on the elevator and walked down the halls toward the Physical Therapy Department for our interview (yes, we were interviewed!), we put smiles on many people’s faces, and a lot of people asked to pet us. We even met the hospital chaplain who was thrilled to know she would be seeing more of us starting in September. She said we made her feel better and left us with a big smile.
Going to D.C. every week will bring us many new experiences. The big city sure is different from the bucolic surroundings at Hero Dogs. Even the city birds are more “intense” than the ones we are used to. Let me give you an example. We were walking from the parking lot to the hospital when a bird dive-bombed my puppy raiser and hit her on the back of the head. Although our humans became alarmed by this, Teddy, Grant, and I, having been trained as service dogs, kept our cool. We continued walking calmly even as the silly bird hovered above us, and our humans chattered about the crazy kamikaze bird.
Well, there is so much more to tell you that I could go on and on. But, if I do that it might fill up a whole book and I’m not ready to do that. So, I will stop here and get back to you next month with new updates.