Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Good Bye

As Ross and I walked across the parking lot this morning to the office, I heard a honking from behind me. I turned around to see one of Ross' kids in his dad's truck, waving excitedly. The boy was discharging and heading home.

Knowing he would want to say good-bye to Ross, I turned around and headed to the truck. Unable to reach Ross from the window, I had him open the truck door so he could say good-bye to Ross. As soon as the door opened, Ross stepped up into the truck, his hind feet remaining on the sidewalk, his front paws in the boy's lap. Ross gave the boy big kisses across his face, then, as quickly as he had climbed up, he climbed down and turned towards the office, as if to say, "My work here is done. Good Bye my friend."



As we were headed out of the office for the night, Ross and I stopped by one of the units to drop some papers off. When we arrived on the unit, the girl who is largely non-verbal immediately came over to pet Ross. She was quickly surrounded by other kids, all of them petting Ross and leaning in for kisses. After a few minutes, two of the kids ran across the unit, calling for Ross' biggest fan, exclaiming, "Ross is here! Ross is here!" His friend came out of his room and joined the group. Ross immediately covered his face and head in big sloppy kisses. As the kids swarmed around Ross, lavishing him with love, the girl (now sitting on the floor) pulled him into her lap and wrapped her arms around him. Ross took the opportunity to stand in her lap, his paws on her chest, covering her face in kisses as she slid to the floor laughing.

As we left the building, we were greeted just outside by the little kids, walking back to the building in a nice single-file row. Shouts of joy filled the cold night air as they sang Ross' name, one little guy exclaiming, "Rossy!!!!" Ross greeted each child as they passed, and when he reached the young boy, hardly taller than he, he slapped a big wet kiss right across the boy's face!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Project Replicate Ross

Last night, I sent the following email to friends and family: 

Many of you have either heard me tell stories, or have read Ross' blog,

about the amazing effect that Ross has on the kids at my work. Today, I was thinking about how much even the stuffed "Fake Ross" helps the the kids at work when he's not available. Currently, we have an entire unit of little kids who use "Fake Ross" to calm them or to help them fall asleep at night. It got me thinking: wouldn't it be wonderful if we had more than one stuffed Ross to go around?

We typically have about 50-60 kids in our residential and day treatment programs. The residential kids live there. Away from their homes and families, and even their own pets.

Unfortunately, as a non-profit organization, our funds are limited for buying "extras" such as stuffed animals for the kids. It got me thinking about how I might be able to get more stuffed Black Labs donated for the kids, and I finally thought to start with the people who I know, and who

know Ross :)

So, I'm dubbing it "Project Replicate Ross." I would LOVE to fill our attic (where we store donated supplies) with stuffed Black Labs of varying sizes for any kid who wants one. Then, those children will have their own stuffed dog that can go with them when they discharge.

The responses were overwhelming! Friends have searched their own homes, stores, and websites looking for Ross replicates, as well as spreading the word with others. I am so excited about the possibilities of donations we may receive. It is truly incredible the effect that Ross has had on the kids, so much so that even a stuffed look-alike makes them feel better!

If you would like to participate in Project Replicate Ross, please contact me privately. All donations are tax deductible.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year


I decided Ross needed to start the new year off doing something other than sleeping, so we decided to head to the little kids' unit to visit. When we entered the building, Ross was immediately greeted by the girl who rarely speaks. She stroked Ross, then wrapped her arms around his belly and picked him up (one of her favorite tricks). Ross hung limply, just waiting patiently. She set him down when reminded that he's too big for that now :) Ross laid down on the floor, and she sat down with him, gently stroking him most of the time, and every once in a while tugging on his fur. Ross laid motionless, unbothered by her investigation. She spit on the floor (her meds make her over-salivate). I gave her a paper towel, and she wiped up her spit on the floor, then gently wiped Ross' leg, making sure he didn't have any spit on him.

We then entered the little kid's unit, and Ross was loved on by one of the older girls on the unit. The rest of the group then transitioned back inside from playing. Each little kid sat in front of his/her bedroom door, and waited patiently for Ross to visit. Ross and I walked around the unit, greeting each kid individually. Ross sat for each kid, washing their hands and covering their faces with kisses until they laughed so hard they could barely squeak out, "Enough!"

Christmas Kisses


I received a page on Christmas night that one of the kids at work had been in a restraint. She was upset that she was unable to visit with her family on Christmas as scheduled, and escalated to the point of endangering others.

When Ross and I entered the building, we were immediately greeted by a staff member. I then heard the familiar, "Buddy!" as one of Ross' biggest fans realized he was there. Kids poured out of every room, huddling around Ross, preventing either of us from being able to move from the entry. Ross covered the kids' faces with kisses, making them laugh and smile on Christmas night, despite being separated from their families.

Even the young girl who rarely speaks stood over Ross, gently stroking him, and stated, "He's sweet."  It was the first time I had ever heard her verbalize emotion regarding him.

As we entered the unit, Ross came upon a quiet girl sitting on the couch. They hadn't met before. Ross immediately walked over to her, sat at her feet, and rested his head in her lap. She asked questions about him while gently stroking his head. It didn't take long for Ross to start licking her hands and face, and a smile to appear.

Ross reluctantly left his new friend to visit the girl I had received the page for. She was sitting in front of her bedroom door, trying not to think about the things that had gone wrong that day. Ross gently stepped into her lap and covered her face with kisses. He sat with her, gently licking her, as she told me about how she missed her family, what had happened that day, and all the things she was worried about.