Koko – The Therapist is In!

Hey It’s Jet Here.

My fursister and Mom volunteered weekly at Miami Children’s Hospital for 4.5 years.  Koko LOVED going.  Mom used Koko’s special leash and often added a fancy collar to Koko’s accessories.  Even though we all know that sitting in the backseat is safer for K9s, Koko felt like she would have a more meaningful ride to “work” if she sat in the passenger seat!  Koko drew many stares and smiles from other drivers as Mom threaded her way through morning rush hour.

Upon entering the parking garage, Mom clipped on Koko’s ID which seemed to flip on Koko’s Happy Hostess mode.  Mom educated everyone who saw she and Koko together, explaining that Koko was a therapy dog here to visit the children and their families.

After walking down the LONG hallway to check in at the Volunteer Office, Koko greeted Grace giving her lots of lovies in exchange for a treat to be delivered after working!  They took the elevator to 2E and began their visits.  Here are a few of the most memorable experiences:

  • A little boy, about 4 years old, jibber-jabbered to Koko in his own language as he stood beside her petting her back.  The boy’s Mom began to cry.  My Mom freaked out inside wondering what she had done wrong.  After the boy’s Mom settled down (felt like forever, probably three minutes in reality), Mom asked if she or Koko did something upsetting.  The Mom replied that the little boy was autistic and had not uttered a word in over a month before setting eyes on Koko.
  • Mom knocked as always announcing Koko’s arrival and asked if she and Koko could enter.  The boy’s Mom said ok, explaining that her son, about seven or eight feared dogs.  Mom had Koko sit beside her by the door and spoke to the boy, telling funny Koko stories. (let’s say Mischief Monday caliber.)  The next week, she and Koko went halfway into the room.  The third week, she had Koko sit below the window.  The boy and the Mom sat on the pull out chair.  Mom explained that most people who fear dogs worry about a dog biting them.  Mom always showed the families how Koko had a soft mouth and what that meant.  She told the little boy she would hold Koko’s head (giving Koko lots of kisses) and he could pet her tail.  He ended up petting all the way up to her mid back.  The Mom had tears in her eyes.  Several weeks later, they coincidentally met in the hallway.  The boy was visiting one of the doctor’s offices for a follow-up.  Mom had Koko stay, held her head thinking the boy would pet Koko’s swishing tail.  He surprised both his Mom and my Mom by petting Koko all the way up to her neck!  What a victory!
  • Koko believed all beds were meant for her.  She could not fathom why the hospital did not permit her to hop right up and cuddle.  At 55 lbs. you can imagine the answer!  Mom figured out a solution and placed a chair beside the child’s bed, Koko hopped up, and just like Lucy… The Doctor was IN!  Mom always wanted to get Koko a pair of glasses!  Anyway, towards the end of their volunteering, the first children from the Haitian earthquake started arriving.  Koko transcended the language barrier, sitting in her chair, communicating love and warmth.  Working with translators, Mom learned the words for dog, pretty, sweet and girl.  After the horrors the children lived through, sometimes stroking Koko, receiving a Koko Kiss or looking into each other’s eyes nose-to-nose, provided a few minutes of relief.

Mom considered volunteering with Koko a privilege, knowing they brought a brief ray of sunshine into a difficult situation.  My human grandfather always wondered how Mom could stay so positive seeing sick children every week.  She responded, “You see shoulders relax, sleep begin, laughter emit, eyes soften, fear subside, strangers become connected, positive energy flow, etc. and know that Koko and I made a difference for those children and their families as well as the professionals working so hard to help. You leave with a smile and a slurp of water (served from the water fountain in a cup!)

Another great pet therapy day.

Thanks to Life With DogsConfessions of the Plume and Two Little Cavaliers for hosting the Saturday Blog Hop.

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Mom Messed Up

Hey, It’s Jet Here.

Yesterday, for the first time, Mom disappointed me.  I’ll chalk it up to an honest oversight, because I know how much she loved my sister and how much she loves me.  In fact, from what I’ve observed, she loves all K-9s.  Here’s what happened.

We had our usual great day, as you read in my Spa Day post.  We took an extra long nap, a nice walk, Mom brushed me while I dozed in the evening, you get the picture.  She did this TIVO thing for one of her favorite shows, NOT ON ANIMAL PLANET (not that I’m judging her), called Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  They asked humans to call in to support the humans who serve (d) our great country.  She went on line instead to this Rise and Honor place and gave as much money as she could.  So far, so good.  Except… that was IT.

Now Mom knows better.  She and my sister, Koko, were a therapy dog

team with Therapy Dogs, Inc. for 4 ½ years at Miami Children’s Hospital and 1 year at S. Miami Hospital.  She knows about Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International.  So many of my fellow K-9s serve humans in the military as well as after the humans come home.

Yesterday, on 11/11/11, our post should have focused on my K-9 brethren that help active duty military personnel and returning veterans.  Over twenty-eight groups help veterans and always need more funding.  (We eat a lot of food learning how to help you know.)  Mom’s including a link so you can read about many groups and how they help.   Mom told me that CNN published an article and Hallmark (again… NOT ANIMAL PLANET, just saying…) had a program on last night honoring military K-9s.   If you have a little extra biscuit money, please consider helping those groups, too.

Jet, I deeply apologize for my error.  You bring such an important subject to light, thank you.  I certainly did not mean to overlook your brethren and their incredible accomplishments and contributions to our active military and our veterans.  I honor their service with equal measure and will donate an equal amount to a group you and I select together.   I accept your apology Mom.

Another great and conflict resolved day.