QQ Litter Visits to Nursing Homes, a Senior Daycare and the Children’s Library
Samson (Celhaus Pirate, a Cantor/Spirit son, 1 year 4 months old, from the PP litter) didn’t send a Christmas photo in 2019 but instead sent a poem which I MUST share on this page:
Cel and her Kids
There is a lady named Cel
To her Shepherds she’s a big deal
But even greater to all
Whether the big or the small
Special pleasure she gives
When visiting with her kids
The different locations
Schools, infirmed and the aging
Happy thoughts throughout
With Shepherds have no doubt
Whose unending devotion
Keeping life in full motion
Enlightening all the hearts
Is the big gift Cel imparts!
Thanks, John & Julie, for those beautiful thoughts.
I have been taking a therapy dog to the local nursing homes for nearly 40 years: to Sheridan Manor since 1981 and to Westview Healthcare Center since it was built in 1995. They asked me to also bring my litters of puppies, so once the pups turn 5 weeks old, I recruit friends to help me take them places. I photograph the visits and burn CDs for the institutions, and the nursing homes tell me they play them often for the residents, especially if they’re having a rough day. The residents love seeing themselves playing with the pups. (People who get puppies get a flash drive with photos of their pup from birth until it leaves here.)
I also take the litters to Daybreak, a senior daycare.
In 2014, the Children’s Library asked me to organize a Reading Dog program. I did so and for 2 years therapy dogs visited on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Parents signed their children up to read to the dogs. Research has proven that reading to a non-judgmental, totally-accepting dog helps children get over their struggles to read and sense of inadequacy. The Children’s Library asked me to also bring my pups for Puppy Playtime, so my litters usually get to go there twice.
At all of these places it is extremely difficult to get good photos due to the conflicting light sources – artificial lighting from ceilings and other lights plus light coming in from windows and usually all the light bouncing off of polished floors. A setting that works great during one visit won’t necessarily work on the next, but I keep trying.
I usually put one visit on the website at a time, taking it down when I have the next visit’s photos edited and ready to go up. This year the litters were close together AND I was busy with yardwork as well as training 4 dogs for agility trials and 7 dogs for nosework trials. It wasn’t until all the pups left and the snow and cold ended outdoor activities that I had time to downsize the photos for my website. I found it fascinating to follow the pups as they develop and learn what all the trips are about. As they get older I have more photos to edit! But here they are, with a short explanation of each visit and the link to the photos. Enjoy! All these visit were done in May.
They had their first car ride and nursing home visit today. They yelled at the top of their lungs the short (five minute) drive to Sheridan Manor. We carried them into the activity room and they immediately pounced on the toys I brought while the staff members began bringing in the residents. They had some good tug battles and also chased the tennis balls, a first. They played and played and played, greatly entertaining everyone. My three helpers helped the residents hold pups and pet them throughout the visit while I took photos. Most, especially Miss Red, were way too busy to sit in laps but both Miss Yellow and Mr. Blue fell asleep while being held and stayed in the residents’ arms for quite a while. The expressions on the faces of those two residents were priceless. After 35 minutes in the big activity room, we moved the pups to the Alzheimer’s Unit. They were pretty conked out and mostly happy to be held. I told the residents that next week we’d only come to the unit so they’d get to see them play. Mr. Purple fell asleep on one resident’s lap. She was thrilled. After about 25 minutes we loaded up the toys and puppies and took them home. There were a few protests as I drove but not much.
The pups rode great this trip. Only one voice in the back complained at all. The four that I could see in the front crates sat up most of the way and looked at the world going by. Good puppies!!!! This is a very smart bunch. They seem to figure things out after one introduction. Mr. Purple and Mr. Blue again fell asleep in people’s arms. Miss Yellow was the ‘visiting” hit as she gave super eye contact and kisses to everyone who held her. I took different toys (which I do for every visit) and they pounced on them as soon as we opened the bag. We had some very entertaining tug battles. The residents also got a big kick out of the grunting noise the latex pig made when they attacked it. I usually take something that makes weird noises on every visit except the first one, which is stressful enough. Today I took a battery-operated train engine that moves on its own while playing music. We got lots of laughs out of the pups bravely following it to investigate and then jumping out of the way as it reversed and headed to them. Mr. Blue and Miss Pink were the ones most interested in it. They played for about 30 minutes and then began settling down. Everyone got a kick out of Miss Red who resolutely kept following me as I moved around to take photos, trying to settle in my lap. She finally gave up and decided to use my foot as a pillow and was quite insulted when I transferred her to a resident’s foot. Eventually she accepted that and stayed there quite a while, to the resident’s great pleasure. About 50 minutes after we arrived, we ended the visit, packed up the toys and picked up the puppies.
The pups played for 55 minutes before they finally crashed, to the great delight of the residents. They also showed great interest in Joys’ keys on a lanyard, carrying them around and playing tug.
44 days old, doing puppy playtime at the Children’s Library
(two pages of photos)
Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library is a hoot: they invite all the young children who frequent the library to come for puppy playtime. This started when we began the Reading Dog program, where children signed up for times to read to a therapy dog on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons (my German Shepherds were there on Fridays). The program was designed to help children who were struggling to learn to read by having them read to a totally-non-judgmental therapy dog and thus gain confidence. Unfortunately, parents weren’t responsible about signing their kids up for reading sessions and showing up, so this fall the Reading Dog program was cancelled. Once the children’s librarian got to know me and my dogs, she asked me to bring my litters in and it’s very popular with children and their moms. The theater, where we do the puppy playdays, has a stage, a floor area and big deep steps rising up where the children sit to watch performances but when we come, where they climb up and down, followed by puppies. The steps are about 6″ high, a struggle for puppies to climb but they manage it eventually, and three feet deep. We used to only go once but the librarian really wants two visits. It’s definitely an adventure for the puppies, very different from the quiet, peaceful visits to the nursing homes and the senior daycare.
We had complaints when we did the Puppy Playdays for the last litter that we scheduled them too early, that parents couldn’t get the kids there in time after school, so this time we set the visit for 3:30. We didn’t have very many kids today, but it’s hard to tell if the time change was bad since today is the first nice day we’ve had in practically a month and people might have decided to do outdoor things instead. We go back in 2 weeks and will see if we get more kids. This is the first Puppy Playtime ever when the puppies were still playing after the last kids left. Usually the puppies crash before the children can be drug away. The adults got to play with them for a bit before we packed up.
We took a week off as I was busy putting on a two-day nosework seminar and then competing in a two-day nosework trial.
54 days old, visiting Daybreak, a senior daycare
(2 pages of photos)
Daybreak has an open “living room” with comfortable chairs and couches arranged in a big circle where they gather the elders. For this visit, I need many helpers so they can position themselves in the gaps between the furniture to contain the puppies there and keep them from running to investigate all the other areas or to follow people. After the pups play for a while, some of my helpers keep the pups within the circle while others carry them around, holding them for people to pet, sometimes putting them in a person’s lap. They were definitely kept busy! One of the seniors really got into playing with the pups by barking and mock-growling at them. They thought him weird but definitely interesting. He walked around among them a lot and talked to them, laughing a lot. One of my helpers dropped her keys while changing positions and Miss Red grabbed them and took off, beginning a prolonged series of keep away battles and it was quite a while before Charlene could capture her keys. These guys played and played and played, with lots of three-way tug battles and quite a few chases and wrestling matches. They never did sit much in people’s laps. They were still going, though more slowly, about 70 minutes later when we began packing up so that the elders could have their lunch.
55 days old, again visiting Westview Healthcare Center: http://celsgsd.com/past-litters/qq-litter-55-days-old-visits-westview-healthcare-center/ (3 pages)
They were again wild and played over an hour, with lots of tug battles, keep-away chases and dominance wrestling. It took quite a while before any would consent to being held so the residents could pet them, but eventually they did and a couple – Miss Yellow, Mr. Blue & Mr. Purple if I remember right – even quietly lay in resident’s laps towards the end of the visit. The residents definitely noticed the difference in the pups from their visit two weeks ago and enjoyed the wild bunch. Usually the visits are done during their fifth and sixth weeks because they get so wild after that, but we couldn’t do any visits last week due to the nosework seminar and trial.
57 days old, again visiting the Alzheimer’s Unit
(2 pages of photos)
Today they weren’t wild monsters like they were yesterday and pretty quickly settled down and didn’t have to be intercepted as they tried to race down the hallway after any of the staff members who left the office. They soon allowed my helpers to place them in people’s laps to visit. The residents were amazed at how much they’ve grown since their visit two weeks ago. Even though they were somewhat tired, they still lasted just over an hour, giving incredible joy to this group who so look forward to my dog visits every Thursday.
58 days, another Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library
(3 pages of photos)
The QQ litter’s last visit was another Puppy Playtime at the Children’s Library. I had more help than usual, and we needed it. The library lawn where we usually potty them had been sprayed for weeds so I had to park a distance away where there was a safe patch of grass. I needed all my help plus the four library staff members because the pups took off to explore and headed towards anyone walking within sight. We then grabbed the pups to carry them to the library. We had enough people that each only had to carry one pup, which was good because they were very squirmy and ready to play. We had a huge crowd this time. The pups played hard for nearly an hour before they crashed.