First Time at the Facility

Today, for the first time, Cabana got to go to the Alzheimer's facility where we will be volunteering. It's a VERY nice place, extremely clean and inviting. There are about 80 residents living there--and a staff of almost 80, too! Can't beat that kind of ratio.

Our mentor said that Cabana did a great job. Cabana was quite excited to be there and even more excited about the basset hound that hangs out at the reception desk. She tried to get Honey to play with all her might, but to my relief, Honey was beyond such puppyish shenanigans.

Overall, Cabana was very pull-y on her leash, as I knew she would be, but when people wanted to pet and interact with her, she was very calm and obliging. She never jumped up on anyone or got too squirmy, though she did do a whole lot of sniffing (not anything inappropriate, thank goodness, but still, not everyone wants to be given an olfactory once-over). A couple times, I had Cabana "go to bed" on an ottoman so the residents could pet her more easily, and of course, she was more than happy to do that. Sadly, she accepted a potato chip that one resident proffered her--oops. I saw it happening, but I didn't have the heart to tell the old woman not to give it to her. Oh well, now Cabana knows what a potato chip tastes like.

I think Cabana will be calmer after going a few times, but I knew that keeping a loose leash in the beginning was not going to happen. In preparation, I bought a couple of teal leads that the therapy dog organization was selling for $3 each. Using some hardware and buckles I had, I cut the leads to make Cabana a collar and matching front-clip harness, patterned after our Gentle Leader Easy Walk harness. Here she is modeling them in our living room. When Cabana gets her official therapy dog jacket in a couple weeks, it will also be teal, so everything will be matchy-matchy. I was so glad to have the harness today; otherwise, Cabana would have been pulling even more and choking herself in a very embarrassing display.

Speaking of harnesses, did you know that harnesses are now allowed in the Canine Good Citizen test? Previously, only flat collars were acceptable, but as of this past November, harnesses can also be worn. That's good news for us, since we still want to take the test at some point, even though it isn't a requirement for this facility. NOTE: A commenter told me later that some kinds of harnesses are allowed, but NOT the Easy Walk harnesses with front clip. I don't know why--but it's a huge bummer!!

Now, all that's left to become official is getting Cabana's therapy dog jacket. They will have it embroidered with her name, and it should be mailed to us in the next couple weeks. Hooray!!

Kari in WeHo  – (February 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM)  

Glad to hear it went well and that she will be all matchy matchy :)


Martha G  – (February 15, 2011 at 10:06 PM)  

I think teal looks great on Cabana! I can't wait to see the vest. I'm glad it went well and I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you and Cabana do at the facility.

Katrin  – (February 16, 2011 at 3:12 AM)  

In the CGC harness, front clip harnesses like the one you made are not permissable. Only traditional harness are.

Jen  – (February 16, 2011 at 3:47 AM)  

Glad to hear your visit went well! My Spike lives to visit at the nursing home and it's something I look forward to every week!! Cabana will likely feel the same way- excited and happy to go, but will settle in to do her job nicely!

That's cool that she can wear a harness at the home. Spike can only wear a flat buckle collar, and that's it- so when he is excited to visit, he will pull and I hate that! Ah well, I figure, it's all because he loves to work!

Hope you enjoy the work as much as I do!

Jen and the Black Dog Crew

Raiser Erin  – (February 16, 2011 at 4:56 AM)  

YAY! I can't wait to see her in that therapy jacket!!!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (February 16, 2011 at 6:54 AM)  

Katrin, thanks for letting me know about which harness type you can use. Drats, I'm bummed out!

Becky  – (February 16, 2011 at 7:02 AM)  

Cabana - isn't teal one of the colors for spring. Love your style and you will bring such joy to these people. Good luck.

Beth & Alfie  – (February 16, 2011 at 7:25 AM)  

Sounds like a great day! I bet Cabana will settle in as she goes along. The main thing is -- she seems to be enjoying the visit as much as the people enjoy her coming! So happy for you both.

Sierra Rose  – (February 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM)  

Great to hear this report. An amazing looking facility! Sounds like Cabana did well the first day, should be more relaxed the next time and so on! How often will you two visit?

Sweet hugs,
Sierra Rose

Jen  – (February 16, 2011 at 9:18 AM)  

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I totally forgot it was my first time commenting on your blog- I've been reading and lurking for awhile! I always love reading about dogs who train for jobs like Therapy work, service work! :)

Anyway, it's really nice to meet you officially! :)

Jen and the Black Dog Crew

L^2  – (February 16, 2011 at 10:50 AM)  

Yay! Glad your first visit went well. And how exciting that she gets a matching jacket!

Mango  – (February 16, 2011 at 11:15 AM)  

Yup, I was happy to hear that harnesses were OK for the CGC, you can count on it. No way Mango is doing obedience in a buckle collar.

I used to do nursing home visits with my therapy dog, but we were not a good enough team to go into the Alzheimer's wing. We went once and it was a disaster. I was worried about the residents giving food to my dog so I would give the regular residents cookies that I brought with me, but when I tried that in the Alzheimer's, the resident ate it instead. Maggie was also just a little bit freaked by the whole feel of the place. She did great in the regular wards, though. I do miss therapy work. Maybe someday if Dexter ever calms and is less of a shark.

Mango Momma

The Thundering Herd  – (February 20, 2011 at 5:13 AM)  

Excellent job. We have had had to work with residents who want to feed Cheoah, too. Always very hard to do.

Worst problem I have with Cheoah is the spilled food on a wheelchair or a resident's clothing. She wants to sniff that and I, of course, will not let her. The nursing staff cleans as quickly as they can, but most facilities are not lucky enough to have a 1-1 ratio like the one you describe.

Amanda  – (February 26, 2011 at 9:52 AM)  

I love reading about how Cabana's journey to be a therapy dog. I nominated you for an award to say congrats on the new career. :)

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