Saturday, January 17, 2009

With Honors

Today was our Wags for Hope evaluation. I took Lily to the appointed site (Central Dawgma in Frederick) a little early so she could get used to the sights, sounds, and smells well in advance of the eval. A lady outside was walking her Doberman back and forth along the sidewalk in the frigid temperatures. It was about 15 degrees at the time, with a wind chill around 0. It was the kind of cold that sliced right through my jeans and froze my legs; the kind of cold that chapped my face instantly. Lily didn't seem to mind. She just knew she was getting to do something special with me.

We registered and wandered around the store. The only problem was that she knew the place. The last time we were there, it was to give her a bath in their Dawg Wash, a self-serve facility where they provide the sink, towels, shampoo/conditioner, and clean-up. It's a really nice service they offer. Halfway through her bath, though, the water ran cold, and unfortunately she got a cold rinse off, because we couldn't take her home with shampoo all over her. I wasn't happy about it, and obviously, neither was she. Now she gets her baths elsewhere. I had to keep reassuring her that we weren't there for a bath.

The allotted time arrived and we entered the training area in the back. Beside us, there were four other women with their dogs. Strange that there were no men.

One woman had a beautiful German Shepherd named James Bond who was just amazingly handsome and sleek. Another had a Lab mix, a mutt, named Pippy, who was a little nervous (like us). Another woman, a vet tech from Pennsylvania, had her Golden Retriever, River, with her (beautiful name, don't you think?). The woman with the Dobie was there, too.

The organizers explained what we'd be doing, and they gave us a little background on volunteering with Wags. It was nice to hear that two of them were active volunteers and another was a volunteer coordinator with one of the facilities that received visitors. There were a few moves we had to go through, including the approach of several strangers with wheelchairs and walkers.

Pippy went first, and she passed. Then James Bond went. Despite being a little young and antsy, he passed, too. It was our turn. I had made a conscious effort to calm my nerves, because I know that goes right down the leash. But still, Lily was panting.

Up we went. We made the loose leash walk around the ring with no problem. Then we were approached by a stranger. While I shook hands, Lily plopped her butt down and waited to be petted. Good girl!

Next, we were approached by a loudly complaining woman who was walking funny. No problems. Lily again sat and charmed the heck out of the woman. The wheelchair approach was also no problem. The walker scared her, however. She'd never seen one. She immediately tucked herself behind me and peered around at the noisy device. I crouched down and reassured her. I said, "Look, someone wants to meet you!" She gradually came out and noticed the person behind the walker. That was all it took! Big smile! Wagging butt!

The final attempt to startle her with loud noises made no impact at all. She just smiled and wagged. They were enamored of her.

We went back to our seat and waited. I leaned down and snuggled Lily. "Good job," I said.

The woman brought the form over for me to sign. The box that said, "Pass (with honors)" was checked, and I was beaming.

"We all loved her," the director said. "Welcome!"

In the end, we all passed except for the Doberman, which is why I didn't put his name in here. I don't want the poor owner to find herself in a search. He was a very nice dog, but he had a few bad habits. One of his habits would not have been appropriate - at all - for elderly people. He would jump up and kiss people on the nose. Elderly people often have poor balance and very fragile skin. This owner hadn't realized how she was reinforcing the behavior by thinking it was cute. Many people are afraid of big dogs like Dobermans anyway. To have one jump at your face is really scary.

As it turns out, Lily is the only one who hadn't had any puppy training or any real formal training at all (other than the wacky lady who came out to the house and whom I never asked back). It's all been us. First my daughter (whose dog Lily was for the first two years) and then me. I guess we did good!

On February 3rd, I have to go to a Visiting 101 class at the library, and then I'll get scheduled to "shadow" another team. Then a current volunteer will "shadow" Lily and I.

We still have Delta certification to get through in the spring in order to get Lily into HosPets. That will give me time to get through training myself. It's busy, folks!

Tomorrow is another hectic day. First I have an early service at church, and then I'll be heading straight over to Hood College for grad school orientation. I'll go through the normal red tape - assuring them I have health insurance, getting my parking tag, finding my way around - and then I'll have lunch with my advisor, Dr. Dana Cable. I have my books already, and my first class is Thursday after work. Oh boy!

Because my husband had eye surgery on Thursday, I've been having to do all the driving and handle everything around here. It gives me very little time for reading blogs, but I'm trying to skim them as I can. I'm still here, but as I knew it would, life in 2009 is a whole new ball game.

Anyway, I couldn't wait to share the good news with you all Lily is now passed out and snoring. I did a little of that after we got home, too!

Peace - D

[photo credit]


Lorna said...

Hats off go Lily and to you. :-) I love dogs and have a yellow labrador retriever named Cheyenne. She sends her regards to Lily as well. Sounds like she will be doing very good work.

SandyCarlson said...

You're getting a standing ovation from Connecticut. That's just wonderful!

Cloudia said...

Wow! wonderful! Aloha-

Maggie May said...

I am so excited for you and Lily! Give her a little cuddle from me!
You are doing some good things this year! Well done!

Hilary said...

Oh excellent! Yay Lily and you. :) Pets can just do you so proud!

the walking man said...

The benefit of having a dog child is that they never get catty on you.

SOUL: said...

that's so cool. for you and for lily. she gets -- and gives-- all that extra lovin... and you get the feel goods for it.

this is somethin i might look into.i guess i never thought "regular folks" did that. i've thought of meals on wheels, or other volunteer work.... but then i consider the "cruel body" days, and re-think it. surely taking your dog to visit people can't be too excruciating eh?

so. kudos! that's awesome.

don't forget to breathe-- you sound awfully overloaded.

Akelamalu said...

Oh well done Lily! On the subject of baths for dogs - we only had to spell B.A.T.H. and our dog used to start growling and cowering! LOL

Mental P Mama said...

Wonderful! I never doubted her!

Jay said...

Oh, congratulations!! And you did it all yourself, well, you and Lily. Well done!

It's a wonderful feeling to pass the test, isn't it? It's always the sudden loud noise test that greyhound owners are nervous of, because they do tend to startle easily, but here in the UK, the dog is allowed to startle, as long as they immediately recover and come back, and The Princess did. Visiting with her was a wonderful experience (I can't quite believe I'll never be doing it again :( ) and forged a unique bond between us too. I'm sure you and Lily have some good - and very rewarding - times ahead of you!

Hope your husband heals fast!

Moannie said...

What a reat thing you are doing, and the good news is that it will happiness to all concerned; to Lily, to the visitees and to you yourself.
So good luck for that and for your studies...don't fill your day to much, leave some time for your admirers.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi Doris,
Congratulations to you and Lily!!
Sounds like you've got yourself an amazingly lovable doggie!
I was reading your post and just thinking what an amazing thing the doggie self-service washing was there... until I read about the cold water for the rinse-off!! My girls would have hated that as they hate cold water with a vengeance!!

Wonderful new layout of your Blog by the way!! X

Deb said...

Congrats to you and Lily! My dog is also named Lilly - she is a rescue dog - we've had for six years - and I love her to pieces. You have so many exciting new adventures ahead! I can't wait to hear all about them. Take care.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

how wonderful...well done you...

The template is fine and it loads really faster..and is easier t read without any patterns under the text..

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Hurray for Lily! And healing vibes to Pete. I hope his eye surgery goes smoothly! Sending you lots of love from the Center of the Universe!

Ruth D~ said...

Hope your husband is back in action soon. It's tough to be your own eyes let alone his.

Daryl said...

Late to the congratulations party ... how wonderful!!!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Congratulations Lily! Woo hoo! Awesome hon, I'm so very proud of you both!