Journal of Visits

Golden Living Center (visits with Reggie)


Today was my "Meet and Greet" with Reggie at the Golden Living Center. A "Meet and Greet" is a short (around 20 minutes) visit to the facility where you meet your contact person and get a tour. Before leaving, I had to give Reggie a half-bath and blow dry him and spray him with doggie perfume, none of which he enjoyed. Then I called out to him with my verbal cue, "Visit Time!" I also put on his blue bandana and blue rope leash, which act as non-verbal cues. We got in the car and drove to the Golden Living Center which is only a 7 minute drive. Reggie started freaking out and pulling on the leash as usual, but he relieved himself and we went inside. I met Ericka Troupe, my contact person, who was a nice young lady. She didn't seem phased by Reggie's whining and skittish behavior. The nursing home smelled like... a nursing home. Ericka showed us the three floors and only cautioned us against entering rooms with food. We are basically allowed to go wherever we need, including main halls and residents' rooms. I just walked Reggie back and forth along the three floors and got him used to riding the elevator. We passed several residents in wheelchairs in the hallway, many of whom muttered to themselves as we walked by. We met a nice elderly woman who seemed more "with it" than the other residents. She talked to Reggie and asked how he was doing, and I asked her if she wanted to see him do a trick. Reggie perfomed sit, down, and play dead fairly well, and she seemed impressed. She asked us to come visit more often if we could, and I promised we would come see her again. Reggie did not seemed phased by her walker, but overall he seemed pretty uncomfortable being in the nursing home. I hope that with time he can become more accustomed to the strange smells and noices and begin to enjoy himself. I made sure to give him a cream cheese filled kong when we got home so he knew that he did a good job. I look forward to interacting with individual residents during our next visit.


I brought Reggie for his first official visit to the nursing home today, and he did GREAT. I was incredibly surprised and very happy with the outcome. He interacted with many different clients and was happy to let everyone pet him. He sat on the couch with some old ladies, and even licked one of them in the face! (Hopefully that was ok...) He also did some tricks in the middle of the room, which impressed everyone. He was definitely nervous because his tongue was out and he was panting a lot and pulling on the leash, but he already seemed more comfortable than the last time I brought him. Hopefully on Sunday he will improve even more!


During this period Reggie and I have made many visits to the Golden Living Center. The story is the same nearly every time so there is no need to journal each individual visit. We now have Betty and Gloria and Loraine as our main clients, and we always visit with more now as well. Reggie sits on the couch in the common area and everyone pets him. He also does tricks on the floor and sits next to people in wheelchairs. We walk the hallways and sometimes stop in to individual rooms (as long as the people seem awake and willing). I lift him up to beds so people can pet him. We've visited old men doing crosswords and reading magazines and watching TV. Reggie sits on a chair and has the residents pet him. Everyone has been very receptive and I can tell they really enjoy his visits. We also go to the alzheimer's ward but I don't stay there very long because it isnt very comfortable. We visit with the people and leave for five minutes and come back and they don't remember us. It is slightly strange but at leas they get double the surprised enjoyment! Reggie seems just as comfortable with all the different people, no matter their physical or mental ailments. He seems to prefer the women but he definitely does well with men too. The staff always seem a little wary whenever we show up but recently they've seeme a little better. I plan to continue taking Reggie throughout the summer because it is good for both him and the residents.

Franciscan Children's Hospital (shadowing)


I went to KHA (Kennedy Hope Academy) at Fransican's and watched a chocolate lab named Henry interact with autistic children in their early teens. We went into a mainly padded room and I was placed behind a padded desk. Sometimes the children can lash out unexpectedly and the coordinator wanted me to be safe. The kids came in either one or two at a time and sat in chairs. They took turns throwing two tennis balls for Henry across the room, and he would pick up both balls in his mouth and return them to the kids. The children loved interacting with Henry and were very expressive when talking about the slimy balls. Henry was really great and walked right up to the kids. He would sometimes just stand next to them and ask to be petted. The few kids that did not want to touch the balls still petted Henry and enjoyed seeing him run back and forth. Henry has been to that unit a couple times before, but he was used to working with autistic children at another facility. He has a sister Nestle who will accompany him during their next visit. They go once a week to the same room and basically see the same kids. In one visit the dogs usually play with 6-8 children. The kids were very happy and had a lot of fun with Henry. Henry had a lot of fun too, but you could see him slowing down towards the final visits. The staff purposely brought more active kids in the beginning and more quiet kids towards the end. Henry had his tongue out and his tail wagging throughout the whole thing. He is a great therapy dog, especially in this type of setting.


I went to the latency part of Unit 1 today. Unit 1 is the psychiatric ward and there are often therapy dog sessions. I stayed with the younger kids (there were only two!) and watched a cute hound mix named Dina interact with the children. She ran around the floor with them and let everyone pet her. Her best trick was playing hide and seek. Hopefully my next trip we will be able to go outside (it was raining the first time) and I can see her really have fun with the kids.

4/12- 5/3

I have visited Fransican's several times over the past month or so to observe dog therapy. I have seen two labs work with autistic children, a hound mix and a wheel-chair bound daschund work with children in the psych ward and I have visited the other wards as well. Last time I visited I was given a tour of the whole hospital and saw all the different settings therapy dogs can work in. Some work with severally mentally disabled patients where as others work with infants with trachs. All the staff are super friendly and I always enjoy going. The dogs seem to have a lot of fun and it feels really good to see the children get so happy. Many kids talk about dog therapy all week long in anticipation of seeing the doggies. I've seen how the dogs react to different types of people and situations and it is amazing how well they can cope. The dogs seem to realize that the patients are fragile and are very good to them. I hope to volunteer with my dog in a hospital setting some day.