Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Happy


I was called to assist with staffing on the hospital unit Halloween night. Holidays are often difficult for our kids. They are exciting and anxiety provoking. Sometimes it's just too much stimulation. Sometimes it's the change in routine. Other times, it's the reminder that these kids are in residential treatment, and not at home with their families.

Fortunately, things calmed quickly and I was able to enjoy some time with the kids in non-crisis. Prepared with back-up, I had Jazz with me, just in case ;) We entered the family room to join a quiet girl I had only met once before. She was sitting silently, waiting to watch Mary Poppins, which was just starting on the DVD player. I sat down next to her, positioning Jazz on the floor away from most of the debris other kids had left behind. The girl watched curiously as Jazz sneakily scoured the floor for goodies. I corrected him, repositioned him, and attempted to watch Mary Poppins. This routine continued for some time, the girl watching Jazz more than she watched the movie. After some time, I heard a quiet voice say, "He just ate a piece of paper." I looked down, and sure he enough, he sucked up a tiny piece of scrap paper I had been keeping my eye on. I pretended to scold Jazz, knowing well that he had taken opportunity of me losing focus. The girl laughed quietly and had a huge grin on her face.

After a bit, another girl, who knows Jazz, joined us as well. She attempted some obedience with him, snapping her fingers at him with every command she gave. Jazz ignored her completely. I kindly instructed the girl as to correctly giving commands, and attempted to model it for her. The quiet girl continued to watch in fascination, chuckling at the live show we were putting on for her: Jazz naughtily trying to vacuum every crumb off the floor, the other girl awkwardly trying to "train" him, and me trying to manage both of them.

Eventually, Jazz gave up on cleaning the floor, and rolled over for some tummy rubs. The two girls took turns scratching his belly, amused at how he kicked his legs in response. The girl who had been attempting to command him became fascinated by his lips and gums, playing with his face as he laid on his back and stared at her upside down with those mischievous puppy eyes. It was Halloween at the facility, and at least 3 kids were happy (2 human, one puppy).

Jazzy Greetings

Despite my lack of updating the blog, Jazz has been busy at work... mostly practicing his greetings.

Unlike Uncle Ross, Jazz is truly a puppy. He gets excited easily, and sometimes forgets his manners. He often fools me by his calm demeanor in the office, and I forget that he's still just a puppy :)

Early in the month, Jazz met a cute little girl in foster care, whose head is shaved and wears a scarf to cover it. We met her in the lobby, and Jazz was so happy to make a new friend. The next week, we saw her and her mother as we entered another building. The girl excitedly told her mother, "There's the puppy again!" Her mother kindly told her that she hadn't met the puppy before, and I kindly informed her mother that she had. She happily greeted Jazz, and he happily greeted her back. The following week, as we rounded the corner in the hall of the same building, I saw Jazz's head pop up and he started to lunge on the leash. I corrected him, and had him sit to calm. Around the corner I saw the girl with the scarf. Jazz had sighted her first, and he was so excited to see his friend again! After he calmed, I allowed him to say hello. He laid down on the floor next to her and enjoyed a belly rub.

On the hospital unit, Jazz has a favorite little boy he has befriended, who is just his size. They both get so excited when they see each other. The boy exclaims "Jazzy!" and Jazz attempts to bound on him with love. Of course, bounding isn't allowed, so I try hard to keep all of Jazz's feet on the ground while he greets. He's been known to pop his front feet off the ground though, just quick enough to cover the boy's face in slobbery kisses. Every greeting is an opportunity to practice "four on the floor."

This past week, Jazz and I were called to the unit to assist with a blood draw. I must admit, with all the blood draws Ross and Jazz have helped with, I'm slowly developing a desensitization to my needle phobia. If nothing else, I suppose it's therapeutically beneficial to me in that way... On Friday, we entered a small office where the boy was waiting with the phlebotomist, nurse, and manager, refusing his blood draw. As we entered the room, Jazz immediately spotted the boy, ignored all of the adults, and climbed into the boy's lap, covering his face with kisses. The blood draw was ultimately unsuccessful, but there was a brief smile on the boy's face in a moment of stress and fear.

The puppy raiser in me knows that Jazz needs to keep working on appropriate greetings, but the psychologist in me knows that sometimes there is nothing better than the pure joy between a puppy and a child. Two happy kids in different bodies :)