I’ve fallen behind on my regular pace of posting for Jenna & Snickers (.com). It’s partly the holidays (don’t we all love to blame stuff on those?!?). Plus, Snick and I have just been busy!
Wednesday, we went to the Crossroads Easter Seals Adult Day Program to meet the volunteer coordinator and visit with their clients. Before we left NYC, Snick visited with developmentally challenged elementary children. I was so happy with the way Snickers read the children at the school that I looked for just the right new job for him here in Indiana. I think I’ve found it… we’ll be visiting with adults with a wide range of disabilities. This is going to be a challenging and rewarding job for us.
Snickers is incredibly empathetic with kids and will match his actions to what they need. If a child is afraid of him, he’ll move slowly or even lie down and wait for them to approach him. (He actually shows them the whole range of calming signals – turning his head and body, yawning, lying down.) He LOVES kids and will play with them as boisterously as they want and loves to kiss faces, but he’s always gentle. Most dogs know children are different though, so I wondered how his skills would translate to working with special adults.
Wednesday was an intro visit, so the Easter Seals people could meet us and Snick could get a feel for the facility. We were probably only there an hour and only about half of that was spent with the clients. (They aren’t really patients; it is basically adult day care for people with disabilities who can’t stay home while their peeps are at work.)
Snickers didn’t let me down. I could see him thinking and working on figuring things out. The clients’ mental and physical abilities were extremely varied, so I think sorting it out was difficult for him. He did really well though. He took it easy. He said hello to almost everyone I asked him to. (There was one person, who said she wanted to pet him, but he didn’t believe it. He kept turning his head, so he must have sensed she was nervous.) He licked the hands of the people who were comfortable with him. He kissed up to the employees who were making snacks. 🙂
There is one issue I have to work on with him. At least half of the people we talked with were in wheel chairs and were not physically able to lean down to pet him, so I had to pick him up to their level. Those of you who know Shibas, know that they don’t typically enjoy being picked up! He tolerated it, but he clearly liked it less and less each time. He knows a command I call “perch” which basically means to stand with his front feet on whatever I point to. He was totally comfortable with the wheel chairs in general, except that he didn’t want to “perch” on them (probably because he’d seen some of them moving). I need to avoid picking him up much because it will shorten the amount of time we have for visits. Visits like this are hard work for him as it is, so I don’t want to make it harder. I’m going to work with having him perch on all different types of objects and surfaces. I’m also going to take cheese next time we go and reward him each time he perches for petting. 🙂
So, that’s part of what we’ve been up to. I think we’ll have some good visits there. I’ll certainly post more about in the future.