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Archive for the ‘Adventures of Alex and Baker’ Category

Baker “Goes Red for Women”

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Baker dressed for "Go Red" day

As part of February heart month, our hospital participates in the national “Go Red For Women” day to raise awareness of heart disease, one of the major causes of death in women. A booth in the lobby offered free blood pressure screenings and information on preventing heart disease. The therapy dogs were invited to participate and draw visitors to the booth. I think Baker was a bigger attraction than the chocolate candy (did you know dark chocolate is good for your heart?). Petting a dog is also known to reduce blood pressure and stress. But what I noticed most is that at the sight of a friendly dog, everyone smiled.

Greeting hospital staff

They may have entered the hospital lobby with a worried or somber look, but that vanished when they spotted Baker and Heidi, another adorable daschund therapy dog. Please visit Go Red For Women to view a short, entertaining video on the symptoms of a heart attack. I think we can all relate to the young, multitasking mom in the video!

Hug your dog today. It’s good for your heart!

This post is part of the Saturday Pet Blog Hop, hosted by Two Little Cavaliers and Life With Dogs. Please visit these sites to connect with other pet bloggers!

Where is Old Man Winter?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

“The horses are blowing their coats,” a friend said yesterday.

Like much of the country, we’re having an usually warm – well, maybe “temperate” would be more accurate – winter. It’s caused the dust bunnies of dog hair to multiply in my house. Daffodils are peeking above ground like periscopes on the cabin’s rocky slope, as across the valley the snow-making machines hum through the night, trying to cover the ski slopes. I can almost hear the daffodils whispering to each other, “Is it safe to emerge?” I’ve watched them in previous springs as they inch up carefully, sometimes just the green tips showing under a blanket of spring snow.

Like most Welsh Springers, Alex and Baker love the snow. They stick their snouts in it until their faces look like powdered donuts. Then they jump for joy. And lie down on their backs and make snow angels. Or pretend they are otters, sliding sideways with their head on the ground.

As long as I don’t have to drive in it, I like snow too. Occasionally. Such as for the beautiful white Christmas we had in 2010. And one of the items on my “bucket list” is a dog sled ride through the snowy woods.

It’s February and we could still get walloped with snow, but the horses and dogs blowing their coats tells me not to worry. I’m sure they’ll be right.

A Christmas with Dogs

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Alex and Baker

“The faster I go, the behinder I get.” I can’t recall the origin of that quote- perhaps from Alice in Wonderland? It certainly fits this time of year. I am looking forward to spending time with family, dressing Alex and Baker in their jingle bell collars, and counting my many blessings.

To all  my readers, thank you for your support and friendship. May you have a peaceful and happy holiday season with your loved ones. As part of the Saturday Pet Blog Hop hosted by Two Little Cavaliers, here is one of my favorite dog poems of all time. Enjoy!

A CHRISTMAS WITH DOGS

– Taken from the Internet: Author unknown

It’s the day before Christmas, and all through the house,

the puppies are squeaking an old rubber mouse.

The wreath which had merrily hung on the door

is scattered in pieces all over the floor.

The stockings that hung in neat little rows

now boast a new hole in each of the toes.

The tree was subjected to holiday whims,

and now, although splendid, is missing some limbs.

I catch them and hold them. Be good I insist.

They lick me, then run off to see what they’ve missed.

And now as I watch them, the thought comes to me,

that theirs is the spirit that Christmas should be.

Should children and puppies yet show us the way,

and teach us that joy that should come with this day?

Could they bring the message that’s written above,

and tell us that Christmas is all about love!

Everyone Speaks “Dog”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Last week Baker and I were assigned to visit the hospital’s Neuro-trauma ICU waiting room, where families with loved ones who  have suffered a stroke, or been in a car accident, or have a life-threatening condition requiring intensive care pass the hours until they are allowed a few moments at bedside. The room is furnished with small groupings of chairs and couches so families  have some privacy as they wait. Most of them sit quietly, gazing at the TV or reading magazines, alone with their thoughts.

It’s hard to know what to say to greet people. Most are surprised to see a dog come into the waiting room, so I begin by explaining that Baker is a therapy dog who is there to visit them if they would like. I’m learning that Baker knows by their smell whether or not they are “dog people” and want to be approached. He’s not shy about sniffing shoes and pant legs as they pat his head.

But it’s not about me making conversation, it’s about Baker making a connection and for a few moments, helping them to forget why they are really there. (more…)

Baker’s Therapy Dog Debut

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

This week Baker and I made our first hospital visit as a therapy dog team, which was a dream come true for me. The journey began years ago when a dear friend was hospitalized with terminal cancer. Therapy dog visits were the highlight of her last days, and led to fond reminiscing about dogs she had loved. Smiles, tears, joy, and faith in being reunited with them on the other side sustained her to the end, and I realized the power of a wagging tail in a hospital, a healing dimension that no high tech treatment, or the most caring human, can provide. To honor my friend’s memory, I promised myself that someday I would do this work.

I had a lot to learn. The process to meet national certification standards and hospital requirements takes time and commitment. It begins with having the right dog, one with a friendly personality and unflappable calm amidst strangers, medical equipment, hospital smells, and sick people. A dog who will obey commands in spite of distractions, and will navigate carefully around wheel chairs and IV tubes. A dog who loves to be hugged by strangers. (more…)

Happy 98th birthday to my Dad!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Today my father turns 98 and thankfully he is in good health though he is still recovering from a broken hip in late July. Here, he is pictured in June at Alex’s third birthday party. He is patting Baker, who is getting lots of practice now as a therapy dog. We visit my father daily, and both Baker and Alex have learned to navigate around wheelchairs and walkers to get to the hand holding a treat!

My father grew up in a small town in Upstate New York. He remembers his childhood dog, Trixie, very fondly and loves to recall how she seemed to know when it was time for him to get home from school, and would be waiting at the window. From the time of my earliest memories we had a family dog, and I believe that the love and companionship of dogs is one of the best gifts my parents have given me, as it will sustain me when they are gone. But, today is a day to celebrate a wonderful father whom I am blessed to have still in my life.

It’s “Tasty Tuesday”

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Baker and the glow-ball

Baker is encouraging everyone to hop on over to his friend Sugar the Golden Retriever’s blog for “Tasty Tuesday” recipes for paw-licious dog treats! Baker is pictured munching on his favorite toy, the glow-ball, and is wearing his cupcake collar from Upcountry. He is also wearing a bit of rain from Tropical Storm Lee which passed through our area yesterday. A good day to stay inside and dream of dog cookies!

My ball has an opening for treats!

Baker takes the therapy dog test

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Learning hand signals

Years ago, I had a dear friend who was hospitalized with terminal cancer. She loved dogs, and her final weeks were brightened by visits from a troupe of golden retriever therapy dogs. Louise’s face lit up with a smile as she described their visits, and often led to reminiscing about her childhood pal, a German Shepherd, whom she was confident she would see again on the other side.  Since then, it’s been a dream of mine to become a pet therapy volunteer. (more…)

Baker visits the tailgate market

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Comparing prices

As part of his training for our upcoming therapy dog test, Baker is practicing walking calmly through crowds, greeting strangers politely, and ignoring other dogs and distractions. Yesterday, we made an outing to our local tailgate market. This is one of my favorite weekend activities, to shop at the market which due to our wet winter and spring, is abundant with produce and flowers. First, Baker checked out the prices. Next, we bought some orange and purple “million bells” plants and a small pot of yellow petunias, to make a hanging basket, and a head of broccoli. We finished our shopping at our favorite booth, the cupcake lady, where we practiced the “leave it!” command – well, Baker practiced it but I didn’t. By the time we strolled back to the car, my peach-ginger muffin was almost gone! Baker was a very good boy and behaved perfectly in spite of many distractions!

At the cupcake booth