Saturday, January 31, 2009

A magical time.

We wish you all could have been there! It truly was a magical time. Thanks to the cast and crew of the show, to all the Pet Partner volunteers that made their appearance and a special thanks to the Angels for believing in this opportunity.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A new Pet Partner and some Reverse Therapy

We are in the long winter deep freeze and the schedule is out of control. Some of this is happening this week and some of that is happening next weekend, oh and can you fill in for me tonight as I have double booked my time. This is an altogether too familiar scenario that has played itself out in our lives and the lives of those that are passionate about volunteering with their animals. To add to the list we got an e-mail (I say we as that is spousal privilege to take credit when credit is due by proxy) from a young man on tour with a broadway show and on their stop in Des Moines they had interest in evaluating with their dog "Butley" for animal assisted therapy work. "Sure, no problem!", is always our answer (most often it is "sure" unless we really are triple booked). The scramble began to pull together the location, the crowd and get the pertinant information back over to Butley's handlers so they were prepared and provide them with the "what they should expect from Delta Society's evaluation process." It all came together.  When they showed up they were prepared. Nicole spent a couple mornings working with them and generally prescreening the team to give them an avenue for success. She kept coming back and raving about this dog and how spot on solid it was and how it would have no issue with the evaluation. It's now Sunday morning and I get to meet the animal for the first time. He is an American Staffordshire Terrier and a most beautiful dog. He had a shiny blue/grey coat with a gently stalky build. We exchange our hellos and got started with the process. His attention to the handler was extraordinary and his handler "acted" the part. He communicated back and forth as it it were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gracefully filling the big screen. As the evaluation escalated the softness of his enthusiasm shone through. He wanted the interaction and the attention of the crowd. He demanded so little but commanded their attention as if he was his own best advocate. His handler was doing just swell but you could see that he wants to be a Pet Partner and was showing his handlers how it was to be done. What a true ham! There aren't many evaluations that stand too far about the rest but Butley did knock it out of the park! When it was all over none of us could resist giving him the attention he so brilliantly manipulated and coordinated throughout the morning. Butley is a fantastic dog and companion. Butley got a break and did a second evaluation with Angie that equally as elegant which in the show biz world would have gotten him an extended standing ovation.  Well done and congratulations!

There is a part two to this story.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our Winter Classic.

The 2nd Annual Winter Classic had a smaller then anticipated crowd but those that did show had a great time on course, playing poker and taking their chance at some fantastic raffle prizes. Take a look at the video and see it from a different angle. Thanks to all that participated, the volunteers that gave us your time, the kids from our agility program and of course the dogs that make us oh, so, happy every day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2nd Class

Taught the Pet Partner workshop to the 2nd first class class at St Luke's in Cedar Rapids this weekend. The weather didn't deter those that showed for the workshop. I have to admit this was one of the best classes we have hosted. The group has had a ton of experience volunteering and brought a variety of experiences to the surface as they shared with others their working knowledge. Again we thank the St Luke's foundation that made this workshop possible for so many people. Again we thank Chris Montross for continuing to put so much passion into this program and maintaining the enthusiasm for the wonderful group of St Luke's of volunteers. Kathy Gilliand and Rick brought their Pet Partners in for a show and tell and their experience of the evaluation process. Why do they stand out? Its because they worked really hard to get their animals (a greyhound and a lab mix) to do the things they needed to pass the evaluation. First and foremost of the concerns that Kathy had was with her greyhound. It is known that rescued racing dogs have been adversly trained to not sit. Hence they do not want to sit. With some coaching and Honey Nut Cheerio's they did a fantastic job of overcoming a very bad situation. Our motto is that you will succeed and they exceeded the success motto.

We are looking forward to seeing the participants of this workshop and see them all do well at the February evaluations. Congratulations on getting through the first step in your success.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

To what length?

To what length would we go to to promote the animal-human bond? Delta Society? Paws & Effect? and St Lukes wonderful program in Cedar Rapids? We would be crazy enough to actually drive our way into a winter weather advisory. Don't get me wrong but I have a love hate relationship with driving in winter weather. Seriously, I hate it when its so cold that your windshield ices up, you wipers have chunks that scrape across the ice formations making a horribly awful sound but its warm enough that its is freezing rain. Make up your mind and be snow or be ice but I don't like it both ways. The call for weather was for freezing drizzle, icing, and 1"-3" of snow. Let me tell you based on my many white fingered drives to Kansas for the holidays that it so wasn't coming down at the 1"-3" snowfall pace, 1/8 mile visibility in spots at its best. We are now punching through white out blizzard conditions. So, I think to myself, at least its not the freezing drizzle that was giving me all the angst earlier in the evening. We made it to our destination as relaxed as all of us could be. The dogs really didn't pick up on the level of intolerance and just wanted it all to be over and they wanted to frolick about in the stacks of snow flakes to the tune of 4"-6" at this time. Got a good night's rest but knew we were staying outside of Cedar Rapids in Mt Vernon (don't ask why because you will get the long winded version and you will hear that its our little vacation). The alarm clock clicked over 5 and blared out the marimba tune that I had pre-set it to alarm. Needless to say it is still snowing and we are still in a winter weather advisory. The skies opened the release hatches and dump 10" or so of the fluffy white stuff. My mornings are usually a disruption to sleep that is well deserved and we wake up to the dogs picking up where they left off just a couple hours before. They want to play. They are dogs after all and they don't have to drive themselves back over to Cedar Rapids. I ask you again. To what length would we go to to spread the fever and passion for the Pet Partner Program across the state. We did not cancel the class because those that have the interest should have our attention for the weekend. They deserve it and we love to promote it.

It is rewarding to watch a new program develop and take hold in a community that is ready for change. I can't wait to see what the next few years bring. For now, we are content to see a few workshops offered and a meet-n-greet scheduled for July. How fun it will be to catch up with friends and hear about their adventures.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Birthday Bash

Bryan was nearly on his knees trying to catch his breath on his birthday. That was before he tired to blow the candles out.

The crowd sang happy birthday as he finished up his run.

The day kicked off right at 8:00 and went non-stop until 5:30. The courses were fast and exciting and we even got to play by the new Hoopers rules. When all was said and done it was a most excellent Birthday Bash. Who's birthday was it anyway? It was Bryan's (not going to insert the how many birthdays here) and he was greeted at the lunch break with a cupcake cake and not as many lit candles as there should have been but he caught his breath after his run to blow them all out in one fell swoop. Congratulations Bryan! We had several new faces show at the trail from what it appears, we did nearly 200 runs for a cold Saturday in January.