Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bless Their Hearts

OOpps, again, sorry for not updating after each 'job' that Gabby has personal blog is way out of date too! Try finding the time to sit, think, and type just doesn't happen as often as it should....
I knew it would be an interesting time with Gabby today. When we went into her 'room' in the morning, she just stayed in bed!! She kind of rolled around on her back for us to scratch her belly, but laid in bed for a lot longer than usual!! I thought, "Yup, on this slightly drizzly day, you have the right idea!!"
But, Gabby had a job today at a home for the, well, we'll just say, 'less fortunate'. At first, going to this home was a slight challenge because the staff is so unorganized. Upon arriving, they would say, "Oh! We have a visitor today?" Well, Yes, I called in the morning to verify our time slot..... and no one would have a clue. Odd indeed. Our visits started at only being 15-20 minutes MAX! Almost not even worth the time to give Gabby a bath, and drive the distance! But, we would continue to meet when called upon to meet.
The ground was still a little wet from the rain last night. This is always a slight bummer because then Gabby's feet get wet, which means her belly then gets wet when the wet feet splash the water up onto her low belly! So, the raincoat came out for her walk before her job. Gabby isn't much of a fan of her raincoat. Thankfully, it ended up being fairly dry and we didn't need the coat for the visit.
We arrived at 10:30, and Gabby bounced in like a bundle of energy! That has been her latest routine.....she is soooooo excited and her entire body shakes and jiggles upon arriving. At times it startles the Activity Directors! Today was just the same. Finally, she settles down and enjoys the attention.
We sat in a small front living room. There were 2 couches and 2 chairs. Gabby would hop from couch to couch and chair to chair, snuggling up to all. One of the individuals had at least 20 questions about Gabby:
1. Does she like to walk through the forest?
2. Do you think Gabby needs a playmate?
3. Does she favor anyone special?
Bless his heart....The question that really topped them all was: If you could trade places with Gabby, would you?
My answer was: Only if my husband would still be her owner! hahahha
She gets treated pretty pretty well! I'm no fool!! hahahaha
Gabby did her typical tricks and ALMOST fell asleep a few times! Must just be a 'low biorhythm day or something! How funny.
We stayed until the program director called to ask me to move my car from blocking the driveway or we'd probably STILL be there!! haha The time was 11:45!!! Where did 75 minutes go? Weird! Time just flies now at this house.
So, from being a little annoyed at their lack of organization, we've come to grow to love this house and the people. Bless their hearts!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Days!

Gabby had a job last Tuesday.....we returned to a previously visited location, one of our favorites! She walked through some wet grass on the way so when we entered, I wiped each foot separately on the mat as we walked in the door. The receptionist said, "Well, I've never seen THAT before!" hahaha!!! Hey, gotta be contentious of tracking feet prints everywhere!!

We made our rounds about the Activity Room and everyone loved on Gabby soooo much!! I love how her name is Gabby and I tell the Croatian, Russian and other European countries, "Gabriella" and then they make so many ooooohhhs and aaaaahhhhhsssss.... GABRIELLA!!! One lady said, 'Like an angel!!" hahaha!!! Many are CRAZY about 'SABATCHKA'S'!! Of course, Gabby just eats. it. up!! It is so funny to watch her soak up this attention. She still enjoys just flopping her head on their shoulder while they turn and give her many kisses.

There was the usual woman who says, "I had a dog that looked JUST LIKE GABBY!! His name was Bruno!! I think Bruno and Gabby would be friends!!"

As Christians, we are all called to serve. I truly believe this is my calling....It is such a blessing for me to take Gabby, allowing her to make so many people smile and feel loved and for me, lending a listening ear to their stories of old. There are so many lonely people in our world. Reaching out to them, spending time, sharing and caring for them always does my heart good!!

The other day, while driving along Ocean Beach, it was so beautiful, we had to pullover, stop, and run along the beach for awhile. Oh the life of a Gabby Girl!!

Now THAT is one happy doggie!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh Where Oh Where Have We Been?

I know! Life sometimes just gets in the way of the things I enjoy....blogging! Gabby has actually been pretty busy since my last blog. I promise to get back to blogging....

Today we revisited a familiar spot and stayed for one hour! The previous visits were 20 - 30 minutes, MAX and today about 16 of us were in a large room, relaxing on the couches. Must have been this rainy, dreary day, bringing out the laziness in us...

I love it when people want to hear stories of Gabby....mainly because I enjoy telling them! :-)
She has two special people in her life....Big Mom and Big Dad. They are a couple we do a lot of things with. They had to put down their boxer, Jingles of 13 years a few years ago and have replaced him with our Gabby. We actually say they have 'joint custody'! hahah!! They love to take Gabby to their home and watch over her whenever we leave town. Gabby was almost falling asleep on the couch with her head on someone's knee when I was telling the story of Big Mom and Big the mention of their names, her head SNAPS up, her chest sticks out and she concentrates on my words! It was sooo funny!! Then, I had to tell her, "we'll see them later," as she went back into position.

One of the members of the house asked, "Do you think Gabby is the way she is because of your training or is that the breed?" I'd LOVE to take credit for some of her loving, kind ways....but, I think, as with people sometimes, she was born this way. They say we are a 'product of our environment' and to some extent I believe that.....but, I also think, we are born with certain characteristics/inborn tendencies and if nurtured can be a part of who we are in a positive way OR if neglected, they can be demons inside our bodies.

As I was answering her question, keeping in mind that my audience consisted of people that may fall into the category of neglected pasts....I had to choose my words carefully. So many people hurting in our world from so many issues. Today my heart was happy to have made a few smile and receive unconditional love from me and Gabby.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slow Summertime

We've been on the go, it's SUMMER TIME!! Sorry for the delays but Gabby has actually been working a few times.....I've been a bad mommy and did not record them.
But, let me bring you up to date.

We visited a long term care facility were many Russians lived. I love it when they keep saying in their baby voices, "Awwww, sa-batch-ka!!" It is so funny. Then, when I say, "Gabriella!" They light up. It is a universal name, because EVERYONE can repeat it with so much love in their voices!

We've been to this facility a long long time ago and I've always enjoyed the large activity room where Gabby gives love from person to person. One man was very very calm, rolled his wheel chair right up next to me and Gabby sat 1/2 on his lap and 1/2 on my lap. She loved it and the man was loving it even more so!! After a few minutes, another man rolled up on the other side. I tried to get Gabby to sit in the same manner. NOPE. NO WAY! She was not feeling this other man. It was really strange. Finally, I held Gabby closer to him, without resting her body on him and she was fine with that. Crazy girl. What is the difference?

On man was very alert so I told him to tell Gabby, "Tell me a story" and I gave him a treat to give to her. Instant BEST FRIENDS! He was so happy and continued to tell Gabby, "Tell me a story" many times throughout the visit.

Two weeks later, we returned to the same facility. This man REMEMBERED Gabby!! Instantly said, "Gabby, tell me a story!!" His new love!!

So the second visit was in their new facility. WOWZA! It is BEAUTIFUL! The sound system they have is awesome!! The activity coordinator can use a microphone that is amplified beautifully. Yea, I probably need a hearing aid, or better yet, I'll just install such a sound system in our house!! hahahaha!!

I really enjoy revisiting our 'friends'. It brings a sense of kinship in seeing the residents' face light up with our presence. Ain't nothin' better!!!

The one remembrance of this second visit is that I got into a 'situation' and am praying and hoping for the best outcome. When I was parking my car, this crazy woman said that I hit her car and need to pay for a new bumper. I got very close to her car but did not touch it or do any damage and she is claiming that I did. This is a time when I wish Gabby could talk and be my witness!! hahaha!! Anyway, it's in God's hands.

It was difficult to continue my day, but after a 30 minute delay, we were able to forget about it and spread our love and joy to others, placing it all in perspective of what truly matters most in life.....knowing that man-made bologna is only that, man-made. God has a bigger plan and knows my heart and intentions, that is all that matters.

Gabby's next job is at the end of August. Meanwhile, she'll be going on a few vacations, many walks and enjoying life in this big city.

Monday, April 11, 2011

World RECORD!!!

She is fast asleep in her bed. Sometimes her job exhausts her!! hahaha
Especially when this job lasted 2 HOURS!!
Gabby had a job at a location where we've visited a few times. Usually an assistant to the main activity director takes us room to room and floor to floor. Not today! It was the actual Director!! WOW! What a difference! We really made our rounds!!
This facility has 4 floors so we started on the 4th and worked our way down. The Director and I enjoyed each and every private room and Activity Room!! Unfortunately, this facility is prominently Asian and many in this culture do not like dogs. That is a fact. Thankfully, Gabby was able to sit on a few beds and enjoyed each and every one of them!
One of the most memorable moments was one of the residents, elderly, blind, Russian man that played Russian music on the piano in one of the Activity rooms. It was AMAZING!! I could have listened for awhile longer! The alarm on his watch tells him when it is time to play and time to quit.
Another few minutes was with a lady where Gabby snuggled in on her bed. She started singing to Gabby!! It was the SWEETEST thing!!! She sang:

Let me call you "Sweetheart," I'm in love with you.
Let me hear you whisper that you love me too.
Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true.
Let me call you "Sweetheart," I'm in love with you.

After she sang she said, "Well, listen to me, I'm singing a love song to this dog!!" We all laughed!!
Many of the residents could not speak English. Many were nervous around a dog. Many were not quite sure how to even pet a dog. Many were rough with Gabby too. I feel myself get a little irritated at them but soon realize that they just don't know and must be taught! I carefully guide their hand and show them how to make a softer touch. I wish you could see Gabby's face at this time. She is sooooo still and patient. I can see her think, "Why are you so rough on me? Go lightly!! GEEEEEEZE!"
One elderly man, while sitting in his bed, talked to us for quite awhile about everything from turning 70 (mighty YOUNG if you ask me!), politics, dogs, pets, and the behavior of people. It was very interesting and part of the job I enjoy the most. These individuals are so lonely. They just want to talk to someone. He really loved Gabby, stroking her all the while talking to us. He was very alert. Overweight, but very alert. People, we MUST take care of our bodies or we will regret it when we are older!! Look around. Most of the time, the HEALTHY, active elderly people are NOT overweight. It truly changes the path in life when overweight. So many lessons learned, all of the time, when Gabby has a job!! :-0
Well, 2 HOURS later, we end up departing the facility. Our RECORD!!! But ya know? We were not in any hurry. The Director wasn't in a hurry. We were enjoying each and every visit. It was so low key. There was no 'agenda' and everyone just rolled with it. Gabby was awesome and gave so much love. The Director was a 'cat person'. Gabby knew this. At each opportunity, she would walk over to him and lay on his feet! She does that to 'win them over'. It works about 100% of the time! hahahaah!!!
Unfortunately, we are not on the schedule for a few weeks. I was unsure of our Easter Break plans so did not make ourselves available.
I think this photo shows Gabby's boredom already!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So Proud!

I was so proud of Gabby today. Each time she has a job, she makes me proud but today especially, she was so sweet and I was so proud to be her mommy. Seriously.
We went back to the hospital where I wasn't sure if I had the heart to go back.....but we were assigned it so here we go.....
There are many departments to this very large hospital. We were asked to go to the locked in dementia area today. As we made our way over with the Activities Co-ordinator - a very helpful, considerate, dog-loving young man, he told me some history about the hospital and also gave me a lot of background on dementia. It is all very interesting to me. I made the comment that the brain is an amazing instrument and how dementia/alzheimer's effects people differently. He explained that the disease actually causes the brain to die and those areas show up as black when examined! Wherever the disease attacks, that determines how the patient behaves.
One lady was walking around the halls crying, loudly, with tears and all! Just walking around, crying. So sad. We made our way to the main room where many individuals were putting out their arms to touch Gabby. There was a sign that said, "Happy Birthday Donna!" We wished Donna a Happy Birthday and she said, "Is it my birthday? I didn't know!" We asked her when her birthday was and she told us March 29, 1929! Yup, it's your birthday!! 82 years old!! Couldn't remember that TODAY was her birthday but knew her birthdate. Amazing! She asked to keep Gabby. When I told her that Gabby was my dog and she lived with me, she told me, "Well, I am sure there are more where she comes from, just get another one!" hahaha!! Love it.
Many were able to reach down and pat Gabby on her head. Most dogs don't really enjoy this gesture. I can tell it is not one of Gabby's favorite either. But, she just sat there, looking at me as if to say, "I get it. I must just sit right now." The Co-ordinator also understood Gabby's expression and smiled, telling Gabby she was a good girl. A few even POUND on her head, not knowing there own strength. OUCH! Still, she just sits there.
We were able to visit a few private rooms but not many. One man was lying on his side and said that he would LOVE if Gabby sat with him. Gabby climbed up, nuzzled into his chest and laid her head on his shoulder. It was so sweet and the man was thrilled. He spoke softly, asking how old she was. I told him that she had a birthday coming up in a few weeks and she would be 4 years old. He said, "She is 32 years old. 8 times 4 is 32!" No one moved for a few minutes, just enjoyed the "lovefest" in the moment.
The biggest laugh goes to a lady named Martha. She is removed from the group and sits in a private area because she speaks VERY LOUDLY!!! Everything is a YELL!! I was told that yelling can be very upsetting to many patients so she must be more secluded. When we approached her she told us, "Keep on walking! I don't wanna see you or your dog!!" Oh my!! She rambled on and on, talking so much crap. We just laughed. I asked, "How old are you Martha?" She answered, "I don't know but I know I am not in my 40, 50's or even 60's!" hahahahah!!! We laughed and laughed. She was definitely a character and a half!
The last meeting was in a beautiful private area, surrounded by large windows with a background of many tall Eucalyptus trees. It was like stepping into an oasis!! A lady sat all alone in this area on a couch. The co-ordinator said, "Oh this is Linda, she doesn't like visitors." As we approached, I told her Gabby was here to see her! I told Gabby to jump up on the couch, she did. Linda immediately began stroking her and SMILING!!!! The co-ordinator and I just stood in the area, talking about the birth of his new baby, living in SF, homes he had bought....blah blah blah....We looked over and Linda was STILL smiling from ear to ear, stroking Gabby. We exchanged a look of being very pleased and continued talking a little longer while Linda enjoyed her moments.
After our one hour visit, we rode the elevators back down, said our goodbyes and departed. It was a great visit and I am thinking of asking to be assigned to this hospital as a regular!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Even in a storm!

This rain has been CRAZY around here! But, Gabby had a job and we had to go out in it! YIKES! Rainy days are the biggest challenge. Gabby doesn't get a chance to go potty or a walk beforehand and I am always concerned. Again today, no potty break.
People were driving slowly on the freeway, the rain was coming down really hard! We had to park about a block away and walk in rain that was coming down SIDEWAYS!!
We put our raincoats on and went for it.
It was a small Convalescent home, many individuals ready for us in the front room. Many were watching us as I did my best drying Gabby off and brushing her, making her presentable. Most of the people were fairly quiet and reserved.
We did a quick round of the hallways checking in the rooms for a quick visit. As we walked in, Gabby got really excited. She LOVES climbing in bed with them! Unfortunately, everyone we saw wasn't interested in a visit. :-(
One lady left an impression on me. She was in her late 50's and beautiful! She laid in the bed and shook, uncontrollable. It was very sad. She barely raised the covers on the bed, she was so thin and would just shake. She also said she did not want a visit. The nurse said, "But I thought you liked dogs." The woman responded sadly that she "did like dogs but just did not want a visit today."
Another lesson learned that we must be thankful each and every day for our health. Seriously.
One of the nurses in the hallway showed an interest in Gabby so Gabby walked right up to her and started getting really excited, rubbing herself on the woman and acting as if the nurse had treats in her pocket! I asked, "Do you have doggie treats in your pocket?" She answered she did not but she had two Lhaso Apso's at home that sleep with her and Gabby probably smells them! hahahaha!!
We did another round in the front room, Gabby giving a few of her hugs and it was time to leave. Probably one of the shortest visits of all time - 20 minutes! We put the rain gear back on, it was STILL raining sideways! We made a few people smile, always worth it, even in a storm.

I turned around and Gabby was telling me she was not a fan of rainy days!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Most Loving

I know I've said it many times how loving Gabby was on a particular job. But today takes the cake. She was so sweet and CALM today. She is usually calm but today was just EXTRA! It is a rainy day and she went on a little shorter walk this morning. We usually have a job around 10 or 11 am and today we rescheduled due to Chinese New Year last week to today at 1:00 pm. Not sure if any of that matters.....never know.....
The facility is Chinese and very small in comparison to other facilities we've visited. We were done in 25 minutes!! Many were not interested in petting Gabby. But, the VERY LAST lady. She was asleep and I wasn't going to bother her, but I nudged her and asked if she wanted to see a dog. She woke up and was so happy to see Gabby! She let Gabby give her a hug and I gave the lady one of Gabby's treats so she could give it to Gabby. I took this photo of Gabby sitting by her chair before we left. To me, Gabby looks SO HAPPY!!! Such a pretty smile!!
I'm glad I woke her up!! It really made her day.
The latest 'quirk' Gabby has acquired is a fear of elevators! Kind of weird, ever since the day we had to ride so many of them at one job. Now, when she approaches one, she stops and shakes! I pick her up and she clutches on to me like a scared little girl!! Unreal. We had to ride a few times today and finally just took the stairs. Crazy.
So another job well done. Very thankful we were able to spread some lovin' today cuz she was 'in the mood'! haah!!

I took this photo yesterday.
Why are they so cute when they sleep?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Today we went to a very large hospital. In this section of the hospital many of the patients were in a comatose state. I must say, this has to be the most heartbreaking job we've ever had. There were young people in their 30's to the very elderly. After 1.5 hours of visiting, and 50 patients later, we got in the car and I wept.

There were three patients that shared with me direct eye contact. All three were definitely talking with their eyes. We were fixed on each other as I held Gabby up to their eye level. After talking to them for awhile, each of these three individuals reached out to pet Gabby. It is difficult to place into words my emotions. I am looking at someone's son, cousin, brother, lover....This is God's child and we were able to connect through Gabby in a way that made my heart LEAP and I can only hope that this moment eased a part of them too. I believe this is true compassion - wishing that others be free from suffering and doing what we can to reach out to those individuals. I know this is my number one reason why Gabby and I have this job. I truly feel it is a call to serve and 'walk the talk' of being a Christian. Each job I learn more about myself, how I react to certain situations, evaluate how I could be better and proceed in following it through on the next visit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

We ARE a terrific pair!

Gabby and I went to a new place today!
We arrived to a very busy, lively atmosphere! Lots of nurses in hallways and patients in the lobby and hallways. The place had a BUZZ like I'd never felt.
We met the Activity Director and began visiting the 61 bed facility. At first many of the patients were not interested in a dog visit. I always feel so sorry for those individuals. They don't know what they are missing!!
We went into Kathleen's room with her many dog photos on the wall. Gabby must have seen them too because she was so excited. Gabby got up on her bed and immediately laid down. We talked with Kathleen for quite awhile. She was recovering from surgery and about 60 years old. Gabby got up, and laid on her feet under the blankets. I asked if this was OK and Kathleen answered, "I just thought in my mind that I wished she would sit on my feet. I use mental telepathy all of the time on dogs. She is very good and heard it right away!" I always knew Gabby was pretty special. Her sense of compassion is unusually strong. We sat with Kathleen for awhile and enjoyed the conversation.
We must have sat on 30 of the beds today. Gabby was so happy, wagging her tail and 'smiling' the entire time!
I was very impressed with the Activity Director's attitude as well. Many times, I feel rushed to get to the next patient. This gal allowed the PATIENT to determine how long the stay should be, not HER schedule. She also has so many activities planned! Later today a pianist is arriving and the swing dancers arrive tomorrow. A lively bunch because she keeps it that way. Very impressive. Also, the culture was very diverse. Many times places are so segregated by culture and here, there was a complete mixture.
Toward the end of the 1 1/2 hour visit, we met two woman sharing a room that was totally in love with Gabby. It was the sweetest thing to watch these woman overflow with love towards her. Of course Gabby took it all in and didn't want to leave! I wish I had my camera to photograph her face......maybe next time.
The Activity Director took our names and said she will request us to return. THAT was when I realized we DO make a great team! We are both compassionate especially toward the sick and elderly. It is definitely our calling to meet with these individuals.
I am so thankful God led me to Gabby and to sharing her love with others.