Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scout's first reading session

Scout had his first reading session at the elementary school today with a little boy we'll call Timmy. (Timmy is a good name for a boy with a dog and it preserves his privacy.)

It had been pouring rain so I wanted to get there early to make sure Scout had time to potty and then get dried off. I also had to sign in and have my form signed. I overestimated how long all of that would take and we ended up 20 minutes early.

The waiting time in the office made Scout antsy, so by the time we met the school social worker and went to pick Timmy up he was over anxious. Scout got to go into the 2nd grade classroom to get Timmy - yeah! more kids! fun! - but Timmy was at speech, so we had to go back to the office and get him there. Then we went to the library, where there were about a gazillion kids in line waiting to go back to their classroom.

The therapy dog reading corner is right as you come into the library, and Scout was not only anxious but distracted. Timmy wanted to sit and Scout wanted to wander.

I explained to Timmy about how sometimes you can be very excited about something but also a little scared and how sometimes it takes a while to get used to a new situation. Timmy in turn told me how the other therapy dogs sit quietly and listen to stories.

I was pretty sure he was disappointed with us.

He did get to read through some books, and we had Scout pick which book to read next by putting a dog biscuit under them and reading the first book he sniffed. As we were leaving, I gave Timmy a bookmark that I'd made with Scout's head shot and the words, "Thank you for reading with me today! Love Scout".

Timmy asked if next time he could have a picture with Scout's whole body, so I think that means he's looking forward to seeing us again. Scout's trainer Kathleen said that it'll take a couple of times before Scout understands that Timmy is HIS boy and settles down to read.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bandit escapes again

Bandit escaped again today. Tore right through the barrier David added to the fence a few weeks ago to raise the fence a few feet. It was just poultry fencing, but who knew a 33 lb. dog could jump over 4 ft and tear through it?

We didn't even know he was gone. David was in back working on the chicken coop and I was sitting at the gas fireplace chatting with him. Scout came band several times with his "Timmy fell down the well!" whine, but I ignored him until it was clear he was really trying to tell me something.

That's when I realized Bandit was gone.

David and I headed off in different directions on the street to see if we could track him down, when we heard Bandit whining somewhere behind a neighbor's house and then wham! He and the neighbor's dog Killian came tearing down the driveway. They were in the pre-fighting wrestle, whining and nipping but not quite fighting. I called Bandit, he flew to me. Brigitte called Killian and he ran home.

Apparently what happened is Bandit escaped over the fence and ran down the street and through the neighbor's yard to the street behind us. Killian saw him and flew under their fence and chased after Bandit.

David, who was already having a bad day with his back and was frustrated with the coop was now just plain angry about the fence. Then it started raining.

I told David to look on the bright side: his next family probably wouldn't have dogs or chickens.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scout gets his therapy gig at ER elementary school

Last week, October 10, Scout had his interview at the East Rochester elementary school. He went to meet the principal and social worker to make sure he would be a good fit for their Kids Read To Dogs program.

It was a great interview; Scout was on his very best behavior and he seemed to enjoy all of the attention. The kids were excited to see the dog.

I however, picked up the flu and have been sick ever since. I had hoped to go sit in on a reading session just to see how it works but I've been coughing and congested for 10 days now. My doctor said kids are little germ factories; guess I'll need to add hand sanitizer to our therapy bag.

But I digress.

ER has been very welcoming to the dog reading program, which kicked off this year. They currently have 9 kids involved with dogs. What a great program for kids, to have a half hour of special time with the undivided attention of a loving dog and a good book.

We heard today that Scout will be paired with a second grader we'll call Timmy. Our first reading session is October 28. It's all very exciting to see Scout be able to give love and affection to someone who needs a little extra. How sweet that I get to be a part, too.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Update on Bandit

A quick update on Bandit after his trip the ER: he spent much of Saturday groggy from the sedatives he got in the ER so they could do the xrays. Dr. B looked at the films too and said he didn't see anything on there that concerned him.

Then last night, Bandit pooped out something that looked like a big rock. It was a few inches long and maybe an inch and a half wide, and when it came out it made a "plunk" sound. No poop, just that object. I bagged it, and it feels like an intact squeaker from a toy.*

I have no idea where he got it - I've been careful not to let him have any toys - but he's found out how to get into my office, and that's where Scout keeps his toys. So it is possible that he found something and ate it without me knowing.

Anyway, the object was big enough that if it was working its way through his body it would be very uncomfortable. And today, he's back to his mischievous self. So hopefully that's what was causing his problems and now we just need to wait for his digestive system to calm down.

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* After closer examination, it turns out that Bandit had swallowed a cat toy shaped like a mouse. It probably didn't have a lot of air in it, the way a squeaker would, which is why it didn't show up on the xray. It's gross, but here it is; imagine that going through your instestinal tract for a week:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scouts gets a therapy dog gig, and it's definitely a God-assignment

As you know, Scout passed his Therapy Dog test in August, and is now a certified therapy dog. The question now has been, Where do we volunteer?

All along, I've really only had two places on my heart that I wanted to approach: The East Rochester Elementary School and the Veterans' Outreach Center.

I didn't know if either had a need for a therapy dog, or what we could even offer. Which is why I kept putting off contacting them.

Then last week I finally had time to sit down and go through all of the information from Therapy Dog International. Included in the packet was a sheet listing the places in our zip code looking for therapy dogs.

Understand that I can go anywhere; I don't need to stay in my zip code. But they provide that as a helpful place to start.

On the sheet was only one place looking for dogs: East Rochester Elementary School.

Of course, I contacted them.

Bandit takes a trip to the "emergency room"

Bandit and I are home after an exhausting night.

As many of you know, both dogs have been dealing with diarrhea for two months now, mostly from a bout of roundworm that took a while to diagnose. It wasn't tragic, but it was definitely annoying for me and uncomfortable for them.

For the past two weeks, they've both been back on track and we've breathed a sigh of relief.

Until Wednesday, that is. That's when Bandit got very sick. This time, his diarrhea was worse (and different) than anything he's had to date. I won't go into details, but this was one sick puppy.

The vet prescribed some medicine to help, but it was taking it's old sweet time working, and the plan was to see how he was today and take him in if he wasn't any better. The only change to that would be if Bandit started barfing or not eating, which might indicate a blockage in his intestines.

Friday morning it looked like things might be getting better. Then last night - or this morning, more accurately - at about 1:30, Bandit has a huge accident in the foyer. I didn't even hear him get up, but David did. He said the poop had pieces of what looked like pink plastic in it; Bandit had chewed part of a squeaky ball on Tuesday.

And then he started throwing up.

I know that sometimes stuff blocked in the dog's intestine can cause serious problems, and now Bandit was acting really weird, shying way from me, ears plastered back on his head, and when I took him out he just grabbed at grass, then stretched his back legs out like he was trying to get comfortable.

Long story short, I took him into the emergency vet's office.

Bandit can be a handful even on a bad day, and the doctor was comfortable assessing him and saying that since he had been eating and was acting pretty spunky (he chewed through one of their leashes; I warned him) that he didn't think there was a blockage. So he gave Bandit a shot of nausea medicine.

As I was checking out, though, Bandit started acting really strange, panting and rolling around on the floor. The doctor came out and was watching, and then Bandit barfed again. That's when he decided to do some xrays.

They need to sedate a dog to do xrays, and Bandit didn't go down without a fight. After two doses, and a long time, they were able to get some xrays and determine that it was unlikely that there was an intestinal blockage.

So my groggy puppy and I, minus about $300 and any sleep, headed home at 6:30 this morning to try and sleep off some of the sedatives. He still hasn't peed, but at least now he can stand up without falling over and the glassy look in his eyes is starting to fade.

I'm waiting to hear back from Dr. B (Dr. Hawkins is on her honeymoon. Thank goodness for two vets we love at this office) to see what we can do next. They tested his stool yesterday for worms or parasites, so there's a chance that we're dealing with another round of cooties.

For now, though, we wait. I have a ton of work to do - I'm behind on a feature I need to have done Monday - and I really need some sleep.