Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jazz Decides to be a Guide Dog!

We weren't sure if he was going to do it... Before leaving home for formal training, it seemed that maybe he wanted to be a Dock Dog, not a Guide Dog. Once at Guide Dogs, they noticed that he was a bit body sensitive. Somehow, I hadn't ever noticed this. He wore his puppy coat without issue and even his winter full-length doggy coat with no more notice than the bright red flame print. But looking back, there were signs. He wasn't fond of the head collar. When I put it on, he flattened his ears, bulged his eyes and neck, and was temporarily paralyzed. It made for the stupidest face, and quite frankly cracked me up. But, he snapped out of it and worked no problem and I gave it no more thought. Turns out that his body sensitivity was severe enough that he was the demo dog at Fun Day (hence his handlers goofy outfit). The good news is that Jazz will do ANYTHING for food and it seems that he is even willing to work all day in a ticklish harness if it means kibble!

After 5 months, my gorgeous headed, skinny butt, boy is all grown up and proportionately huge! He has been matched and is already at his new home with his new partner. We got to go visit him before he left, which was great fun. My current puppy recognized him right away and they greeted each other enthusiastically as only dogs do. Jazz said "hi" to my husband and, as I held his leash, I asked Jazz if he was going to say "hi" to me. He immediately flung around at the sound of my voice, looked up, and soared into the air, his front paws landing on my shoulders and his tongue soaking my face with exuberant kisses! Ah, he remembered me :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blog Update

In late 2009, I made the very difficult decision to change jobs, and leave the agency that Ross and Jazz had become such an important piece of. Professionally, it was the right choice, but the thought of my pups no longer being there for the kids was truly heartbreaking.

Currently, Jazz is focusing on his work as a Guide Dog puppy, rather than as a "therapy dog." We do drop by the previous job a few times a month for some consultation work, and Jazz is always excited to be back to visit his friends, and they are equally excited to see him :)

I hope that someday the blog will be back up and running with new adventures in my current employment setting - youth corrections. Until then, please enjoy the memoirs of all the children these two amazing dogs have helped in the last two years! And, thank you for caring enough to follow along with us in this incredible adventure we have had!

The Runaway


As I glanced out my office door to see who was headed up the stairs, I saw a child followed by a woman from HR. Since children are rarely on the second floor, and never supervised by HR staff, I immediately knew something was awry. The woman from HR said that the child was looking for my boss, and then the boy asked for my previous boss. I let him know that she no longer worked there, and tried to get more information about what he needed. The boy was resistant to provide much information, but did offer his name, and I recalled that he had been a resident of ours previously. He had run away from his foster home, and wanted to readmit to residential.

The boy was anxious and appeared ready to bolt at any minute. Knowing that we needed time to track down his legal guardian, and an incentive to keep him around long enough for someone to arrive for the boy, I asked him if he had ever met Jazz. He hadn't, but he had known and loved Ross. As I spoke with the boy in the hall, Jazz peeked his head around the corner and looked inquisitively at the boy, as if inviting him in to come visit. I invited the boy into my office to visit with Jazz, and so he did.

The boy remained anxious, and wandered back out of my office and into the hallway. I was worried that he might try to run again, so I kept a close eye on him. So did Jazz. The boy hovered in the hallway, and eventually I let him know that Jazz was worried about him. Jazz never took his eyes off the boy. The boy came back in my office and began petting Jazz again. Eventually, he began to ask questions about where Ross was, and I explained the process of Guide Dog training and how Ross went to live with a family who needed him. The boy asked questions about Jazz, and got to know him too.

Eventually, people arrived to help the boy, and by that time he was calm and cooperative. With the great help of my coworkers, quietly making phone calls while I distracted the boy, we were able to keep him located and safe until someone arrived for him - thanks to Jazz!

And, I sent him off with a Ross replicate :)

Jazz the Q Dog


Today I was covering the "Q" pager for my coworker. When kids are physically restrained, staff have to page the "Q" to receive authorization for the restraint and to ensure the safety of all involved. I learned early with Ross that having my puppy with me when I arrive on scene calms the children immediately, and typically results in an immediate deescalation. Today, as Jazz and I walked across campus to respond to a call, we passed one of my coworkers who greeted us with a smile, "Hi Q Dog."

Later we responded to a call from the hospital unit. As Jazz and I walked onto the unit, we saw a girl outside the door on the patio, yelling at and verbally threatening staff outside with her. Having worked with her many times before, I knew she would be immediately distracted and calmed by Jazz's presence. I knocked on the full-length plexi-glass door to get her attention, then pointed down towards Jazz. To my surprise, she responded by flipping me off and continued to yell at staff. I realized that she didn't see Jazz was there. I then cracked the door enough to tell her that he was. A look of surprise came across her face, and she immediately stopped yelling and stepped back from the door. Without me saying another word, she exclaimed, "I'll be on track!" and she backed away further from the door. True to her word, she followed directions, and calmly sat down and petted Jazz. Within minutes, she debriefed with staff and moved on with her day. Crisis diverted.