Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Room Full of LOVE!

Today we went somewhere NEW!! It was farther than I am comfortable traveling, but we made it and I am soooo happy we did! Gabby was loved and gave so much love today!
As we made our way around the activity room of many seniors, Gabby sat still at their feet, would lay down at their feet, want to be held in their laps and gave soooo many hugs!
One of the employees made the comment, "With Gabby here, the room just filled with so much LOVE!!!"It is true. You really can FEEL the atmostphere elevate! I thought it was just me, but others feel this too.
I tell everyone Gabby's name. They speak to Gabby in many different languages, and when Gabby hears her name at some point in the sentence, she quickly turns her heard toward the person and they usually laugh out loud and get the biggest kick out of that! Gabby acts as if she totally understands that language! I GET A KICK OUT OF THAT!!! hahahaa
One thing I've noticed that most people enjoy is when I give a doggie treat to them and THEY are allowed to give it to Gabby. It's funny, I think it is universal hospitality.....everyone wants to give food! They seem to enjoy that.
Today I also received my 2nd KISS! A woman was kissing Gabby, saying, "Muy bonito!" Then, she stopped, looked at me, felt my cheek and said, "Muy bonito". Then, she kissed ME on the cheek!! I LOVE MY JOB!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"One of our favorites!"

Yup, "One of our favorites!" is what Gabby and I were told today after our visit. We've been to this facility a few times and feel very comfortable. As we were leaving, we were told that they really enjoy our visits and we are one of their favorites!
It is always good to hear that we are on the right track. I don't have much to compare our visits with, but I'd say we make a pretty good team!
We'll probably NEVER forget this day because Gabby actually got SOCKED in the face!! A fist was made and POW!!! Right in the nose!! Yes, sometimes elderly people can loose their senses. I was pretty shocked! I told the woman to be gentle and to be nice! She looked at me as if she were a small child that misbehaved. I waited a minute then asked if she would like to be nice to Gabby and she said she would. Gabby ended up giving her a hug and the woman was able to pet and treat Gabby nicely.
We must be on the look out for this type of behavior sometimes. It is easy to assume everyone is in control, and unfortunately, some are not. This explains the reason why part of the Animal Assisted Training is a test of 'Strong holding and strong petting'. Thankfully, Gabby didn't seem to be bothered by this sudden action. We continued our way around the room, telling stories about Gabby, and attempting to get a few smiles.
I haven't blogged our visits for awhile. Life sometimes gets too busy and I apologize. Thankfully, we are still out in our community, spreading the love, learning SOMETHING with each visit and always striving to do our best. If we end up being a favorite in the process, that is an EXTRA bonus!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The mind is an amazing instrument - and in dogs too!

This was her answer when I asked if she was ready to do her job and see her friends!
I think she is saying, "Yes Mommy, YOU BETCHA!"
We returned to the same location we visited 2 weeks ago. On our first visit, we parked the car and started walking up the sidewalk. Gabby hadn't been here before so she wanted to keep walking instead of taking a hard right and walk up the ramp. Today, we parked the car and started walking up the sidewalk, and she took the hard right to go up the ramp. She remembered?
We were about 15 minutes early today so we got right to work. Our first patient was in the lobby. She took one look at Gabby and said, "Oh, I can tell, here is a special guest! I can tell, she is ready to get some loving and I think she came to the right place!"
We made our rounds, starting on the 3rd floor, making our way down. There are about 16 rooms on each floor, each with 2-3 patients in each room. Many were in the hallways so Gabby did not get to rest on many beds today. I know she was disappointed with that.
One elderly lady in the hallway was wearing her sweater and she told us that her husband was going to pick her up today and take her home! She was very happy about this. She also told us, "When you see my mother have her call me on her cell phone." Another lady in her bed asked,"Why am I here? I don't understand. One minute I agree to go to China with a nice lady, I fall into a deep sleep, I wake up and here I am! I have to be somewhere in 5 days so I have to leave. So, why am I here?"
Looking and listening to these woman, one wouldn't think anything indifferent. Our mind is an amazing instrument. I am always intrigued by these conversations. Nothing like getting a good dose of reality. Everyone grows older each day and we all must embrace each and every day and live to our fullest, without regrets.
Our last visit was with our 105 year old friend. She is sitting in a chair at a table. As soon as her hands touch Gabby, she opens her eyes and bursts with joy. She strokes Gabby, smiling brightly and sweetly tells Gabby how she is so special. I turn Gabby upside down and she gives a nice long hug. At 105, our friend beams receiving such a hug. It is the BEST!
It did not take long and she was OUT for the ride home.
Excellent job Gabby. You DID get a lot of love today, but you sure gave a lot too!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Record breaking kisses RECEIVED kind of a day!

After a few vacations, we are slowly getting back into our AAT job! Gabby has also been out and about, staying with friends and family and providing so much love to all. At one point, she worked overtime! While staying with our friends for one of the weeks, my friends father passed away. She said, instantly, Gabby began kissing her while she was crying and mourning this loss. Gabby knew my friend needed to be comforted and went right to work. My friend was very thankful to have Gabby near. They are big dog lovers, and their dog of 15 years passed 2 years ago.

A few weeks ago Gabby had a job that I did not blog about because we've been having a very busy summer. Since there was such a gap between visits, Gabby did not run around and get excited when I told her she had a job. It was as if she'd forgotten what the word meant!! As we drove over to our location, she was not looking out the window getting excited either. Uh Oh!! But, when we got out of the car, she was in better anticipation. She did great but seemed to be a little tired. We had not been home much with her so my take is that she just wanted to stay home and be with us.

But, today we visited a new facility and as I told her that she had a job to do and brought out the special leash, she ran in her circle and was clearly ready to go. We reached our Health Care facility where many patients were elderly and needing hospital type care and some were recovering from surgery. We visited 3 floors going to individual rooms and 3 different activity rooms on each floor. We were BUSY!! It took 1.5 hours!!

Most were dog lovers but a few shook their heads or told us they were not interested. One lady was 105 years old and I think she enjoyed Gabby the most!! She looked GREAT too and she also gave the most kisses to Gabby. In fact, I think Gabby received MORE kisses than she gave today! To me, it is pure delight when I hold Gabby upside down - her favorite position - and she snuggles into the person's neck. Usually the person will turn their face, close their eyes and kiss her neck. It is truly the sweetest thing to watch. All of the sudden this elderly person is receiving love and affection and able to give it in return. This is my favorite part of Gabby's job. I wish I could photograph the moment for you too.

Being in this environment is not for the 'weak stomach' individual though. The smells and things you see can be disturbing. If you are thinking about visiting the elderly, just know that it is sometimes like that. I have always admired the nurses and health care providers and appreciate them even more seeing it in action.

Gabby received so many compliments today from the staff too. She was very relaxed and calm. Her most cherished time is still when she is allowed to get in bed with one of them. It is so funny! She cuddles right in and her tail is wagging in circles as she lays there! She looks at me with eyes that say, "See mommy, I am in someone's bed!" She knows how big of a treat it is! hahaa!

We have one more vacation then we'll be back into more of a routine with school starting up again. We'll visit the same place on August 4.

Til then, keep making people smile and enjoy each and every healthy day we are given.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking a short break

Gabby and I had to take some time off from her job. She is doing well and ready to celebrate her 3rd birthday on Saturday, April 17! Thought I'd add what she's been up to.... ;-)

As soon as we have our next job, I'll be sure to post it!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pillow Queen!

I just had to post this one of our crazy Pillow Queen! Isn't the couch soft enough? Why the pillows? To sit up higher? This is how we found Gabby one afternoon. Gotta love it!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Since I was sick the last TWO appointments, we were FINALLY able to do our job today!

We returned to a residential care facility for the elderly that we've been visiting many times before. Again, this morning when opening the front closet door and telling Gabby she has a job to do, she ran in a circle and barked! I have to video it the next time to share!

I drove around the blocks many many times before finding a parking spot. Hate that part! I left in plenty of time and I was almost late!! When I told the hostess about the parking issues, she told me next time to go ahead and park in the passenger loading area in front of the building! YES!! Problem solved!!

As we waited by the front gate, Gabby was peeking through the bars, watching, waiting. When the hostess appeared and walked toward, Gabby started wagging her tale and getting real excited! We entered and met a few people in the lobby area. Many people were being escorted to the main room where the Arm Exercise class was about to begin. I need to talk to the Activity Coordinator and suggest that we arrive at least 30 minutes prior because everyone is in this class instead of visiting with Gabby.

The few that do not attend the class are always happy to have Gabby to themselves though. Thankfully, Gabby remembered the 'Come-a-hoppy' command and enjoyed sitting on a few laps. One man in particular enjoys Gabby the most. The hostess walked over and told Paul, "It's a good thing Gabby is here, sitting on your lap or you would be taking a nap!" With the attention from Gabby he is awake, alert and talking!

I let Gabby sit on their laps for awhile and we talk about funny Gabby stories. Today I mentioned that I wish Gabby could talk. Paul said, "She DOES talk - she talks Japanese! I understand what she is saying!!"

We stayed for about an hour in the lobby. Lunch was being served so I told Gabby, "Let's go for a ride in the car!" She continued to sit on Paul's lap. Not moving. I said it again in a more excited voice! Still nothing. No movement! She liked it right where she was! She is so comfortable and content in these environments.

It was a special time sharing our love with only 4 people. We were able to really connect and be still. Maybe I won't suggest we arrive earlier! hahaha

We get in the car and Gabby curls herself up in the backseat and goes to sleep. Good JOB Gabby!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I drove my car for the first time in awhile and it felt great! I missed my car! It is 10 years old - and only 86,000 miles! Barely broken in!! We had the windows down and the top open, cruisin' on Mission St, enjoying the sunshine! We returned to a Residential Care facility today where many of the residents are Jewish - hence the SaBatchKa title - meaning small dog!!

We started the day in one of a few Activity Rooms. Again, Gabby is really good at sitting in their laps now. For some people she is a little too heavy - she weighs about 20 pounds. But, many want her to lay in their laps. Of course we did the upside down hug - that is the most popular. We stayed in this room for about 30 minutes and proceeded to the Dementia Floor.

The head nurse is a very energetic man. He had about 6 balloons tied together and Big Band music playing loudly. The residents were tossed the bundle of balloons and they had to hit them back to the nurse. Everyone seemed to enjoy this game! Gabby isn't too fond of balloons and is cautious around them. At first she watched them play and then discovered that they were not part of her routine so ignored them. She sat on about 5 different laps, gave lots of upside hugs and was very patient.

One lady grabbed her around her neck and had a pretty tight hold on her. This is why they man-handle them pretty good in the training exercise. Thankfully, Gabby sat real still and I was able to undue the woman's hold.

I know this site is all about Gabby and HER experience, but I am very intrigued with this floor and always experience something myself. I respect the individuals and am not trying to make light of their situation - Lord knows it is a HUGE challenge - but I cannot help to find it quite humorous with some of their actions. At times, I feel like we are in a movie and they are all acting!! The nurse in charge is truly amazing, taking it all in stride, making it a FUN and positive environment. We stayed in this room for another 30 minutes.

We made our departure and headed back home. With each visit I see Gabby being more and more patient and still when people are holding her. In the beginning, she would wiggle around in their laps and now she knows to be still.

Another successful job!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Keeps getting BETTER!!

We returned to the same location we were visiting last week and the week before. The car route. Check. The parking issues. Check. Off to a good start!! hahaha

The nurse that wanted to buy Gabby last week was pushing a man in a wheel chair to the outside of the building upon our arrival. Gabby RAN to the nurse when she squealed with delight of our return, "GABBY!!!!" We entered the make shift living room where our guests from last week were also awaiting our arrival. Gabby was excited, jumping around and licking everyone.

Gabby learned new words today! When I say, "Come-A-Hoppy" and point to where I want her to go, she jumps up and stays. I can say it and pat the couch and she jumps on the couch. If I say it and pat the persons lap, she jumps up on their lap. The people loved to watch her do this!

At this particular location, I feel that the atmosphere is very calm and serene. I enjoy sitting on the couch with the other residents. We talk about Gabby while she looks around, adding to the conversation with turns of her head and perking her ears. It is a very comfortable and easy moment. One lady came over in her wheel chair while I was sitting on the couch. I placed Gabby in my lap and she spread her upper body on the lady in the chair and lower half on my lap. The lady stroked her ears and patted her head with such a light, dainty touch. Gabby was very very still, noticing this extra softness. Gabby closed her eyes and took in all in and that pleased the lady so much.

Not sure the WHY of this, can only guess....but older men have always held a special place in my heart. Always have. Perhaps it is because I had an amazing grandfather that I adored as a child and not much of a father. Not so surprising that I've made a few friends at this location, two being older men. I asked what their line of work was in their youth. One man answered, "Plant pathology". Interesting. He said, "I bet you didn't know that plants got sick too!" The other man when asked the same question, unfortunately answered that he did not know, that he could not remember. Both of them enjoy Gabby so much and want her on their laps.

That is why, we are so pleased to report that this therapy dog stuff just KEEPS GETTING BETTER!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"I want to buy her!"

Gabby was excited to go to her job today when we went to the closet to get her special leash. This was a second visit to this particular place. We've never had a 'double' visit and I was curious if Gabby would 'remember'. We walked in and she immediately did her 'dance' when she rubs her front paws and her back paws on the carpet, looking as if she was scrubbing her paws! It was great!
We met with the Activity Director and was guided to the front lobby area where about 6 individuals gathered, all awaiting our arrival!
I introduced Gabby, showing her little tricks and everyone laughed and joked. I am finding that many people want to FEED her! Many want to give her a cracker or something they have in their pockets! I tell them, "No Thank You! She only eats dog food - no people food." And they feel badly! So, I have been giving them one of her own treats, explaining to them how to tell her to do her tricks and most of the time Gabby will perform and they can reward. They laugh and think it is so cool to talk to a dog and get a reaction! One man asked, "Do you have children?" I confirmed his question and he stood up and said, "Let me give you a hug! If your dog is so well behaved, I can imagine how your children are! Thank you for raising good children!"
This same man would look at Gabby and say, "Arf Arf Arf!" Wanting Gabby to answer back. I explained that all you have to do is say, "Gabby? Tell me a story!" And Gabby will give you an ARF!! He continued to say, "ARF ARF ARF!" Gabby would look at him and wonder what the heck he wanted her to do!! I continued to tell him the correct words to use and he kept doing his only ARF ARF words!! Finally, a woman said, "You are using the WRONG language! She doesn't understand DOG! She only understands ENGLISH!!" hahahaha! Then, the woman said, "Gabby, tell me a story!" And Gabby gave a big ARF!!! hahahaha That was great!
Also, one of the employees fell in love with Gabby. She told me her 8 year old daughter really wants a dog. She thought Gabby would be the perfect dog for her daughter! She asked about the breed, etc.... She asked, "Can I buy her?" I explained Gabby was not for sale and that she was my dog. I told her that she could probably call the SPCA and tell them she is looking for a Lhasa Apso and if they get one, maybe they can call her. She said, "No, I want to buy THAT dog!" Many people think that since I have an SPCA name tag and Gabby has her SPCA scarf, that the dogs are available for adoption. I again explained that Gabby was MY dog and she was not for sale. She asked to take a few pictures of Gabby to show her daughter and I said that would be fine. I hope she understood that Gabby was not for sale!
Here is the picture she took of Gabby with her cell phone!
Super cute! If I were her, I would want to buy her too I guess!! hahahaha

Anyway, we stayed for about 45 minutes, gave lots of hugs and enjoyed our morning immensely!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Winning them over!

Today's job was at another NEW location, in the heart of this beautiful city! I looked to my right and this is what I saw! Gotta LOVE it!
This elderly residential care facility did not offer any visitor parking so I had two choices. Find parking on the street or pay for parking. Thankfully, we left with plenty of extra time and I found parking on the street!! YEA!! So we had to CLIMB up the street, oh well! It was FREE!! hahaha. I took this photo below. Our car is parked waaaaaaaaaay down the hill next to the intersection.
We entered about 20 minutes early but they were ready and waiting for us! There were about 12 individuals sitting in a circle. I introduced Gabby, she performed her few tricks then I picked her up so they could see her face to face. Two men in particular waved me on, uninterested in Gabby. I am always surprised when this happens. I guess there are people who just don't like dogs! Weird eh? We made our rounds a few times, talking to each individually.

Then, it I was talking to a lady and she was hugging Gabby pretty close, one of the men who waved Gabby on earlier, reached out and touched her! I pretended like I did not see this. He continued to touch her! I turned and he pet her a few more times, then was done. It was soooo cute! He was able to witness the love she was giving everyone and wanted some of that!! hahahha. Soon, after that, the second man, reached out to Gabby as we were making our rounds and wanted to touch her too! It was GREAT! We WON THEM OVER!!

My favorite part is when Gabby can relax, and with me holding her upside down and she nestles right up under the person's chin! One lady sang a little song to Gabby while this was happening about a mother holding her baby. It was adorable!

We stayed for about an hour, then they needed to get ready for lunch.

Our next visit isn't until February 11. We'll return to another elderly residential care facility that we've been to before. It'll be interesting to see if they remember Gabby.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On this wet and rainy day.....

...... Gabby had a job to do! She was more excited this week when I told her she had a job to do so I was pleased.

We arrived to a 430 patient facility for the elderly. It was HUGE! Thankfully, when
I confirmed our appointment in the morning, I asked about parking and they had VISITOR parking right in front!! YES!!!

Our contact person asked if it was OK to go up to the dementia floor. I said, "Sure!" So up the elevator we went! There was a room full of men and women in wheel chairs and regular chairs. I held Gabby to many of the individuals and she did her usual plop-the-head-on-the-chest position. They really LOVE that one! Many were asleep, a few waved Gabby away, being uninterested. The oldest one in the room ? 105!!! WOWZA! Here is when we discovered how to say small dog in Hebrew - Schmaska - or something like that. A few people would say that when looking at Gabby.

The next stop was to a woman in her private room. Her birthday is Saturday, she will be 85. She wanted Gabby up on her bed so up she went. Gabby laid down and almost fell asleep! The lady talked about her life, a Holocaust survivor, how she was a surgical nurse and how God has a German accent when He talks to her! Pretty amazing woman. She continue to pet Gabby as she talked and it was very relaxing. It was a nice little 10 minute visit.

We left her and continued on to another Activity Room. Elvis was playing loudly from the CD player, one lady was dancing and singing out loud, it was a PARTY! It was a riot! This was a very lively room. The man in charge of this room really makes his job FUN!! The same woman started singing 'God Bless America' - and did a GREAT job of it!! As we made our way around the room, Gabby continued to snuggle up to many, letting them feel her soft ears and patting her belly.

Another Director entered and asked the man in charge of the room how everyone was doing. He replied telling her how the individuals were responding and was especially excited that 'Rosie' "opened BOTH of her eyes to see the dog!" They seemed very pleased with the 'results' we were achieving! It seemed as if many of them had problems with their vision. It would take them awhile to focus on Gabby, once they did, they BURST into shouts of seeing her!! One lady was loving Gabby and then she took MY face in her hands, tilted my head and kissed me on the cheek. I could not understand a word she was saying but did it again!! It was a very sweet and kind gesture.

Our visit today was a little over an hour and quite the workout, holding Gabby a lot, in squatting positions, bending and such. They keep most of the facilities at a comfortable, warm temperature so I have to remember to wear lighter clothing!

We will return to this particular facility in a few weeks and will look forward to it.

Here is Gabby, taken today, just before walking out the door.
She is READY!

Here she is AFTER! Tired her out!

Friday, January 8, 2010

First Visit in 2010

When I told Gabby that she had her job today, she did not act as happy as she had in the past. Maybe she was still mad at me for putting that flea/heartworm medicine on her back the day before? Maybe she's 'forgotten' since it has been a few weeks...Don't know. On the way over in the car, she looked at me as if to say, "I am not feeling it today!" But onward we continued.
When we entered, Gabby was VERY EXCITED and starting wagging her tail and twirling with delight!! We went to a beautiful home that had many residents. It was a Japanese residential care building. It was BEAUTIFUL! Ok, I am just going to say it. I am sorry if I sound 'racist' but it is not made to sound like it.... One thing I have noticed by visiting so many different places.... The Asians are soooo clean and tidy! Their homes do not have an 'old person' smell and is very comfortable. Well, the other thing I've noticed is that the Asian community are not BIG fans of dogs. Only 5 people showed up in the lobby! OK, so there was an 'arm exercise class' being held at the same time..... maybe that is where they all were? Hmmm....No, I think the majority are just not big dog lovers. The ones that did show up were very sweet and LOVED Gabby. One man sat in a chair and wanted Gabby in his lap. He was of pretty small frame, and not much of a lap, but Gabby wiggled herself up and there she sat between him and the arm of the chair for a few minutes. He enjoyed it and did not want us to go. He actually asked, "Why do you have to leave now? What does Gabby have to do?" Aw, super sweet.
So, in the end, I think Gabby just 'forgot' about her job. Her next job is in 2 weeks, we'll see if she remembers....