October Photo Challenge Day 15: YOUR NIGHT

To understand my October Photo Challenge entry for YOUR NIGHT, you have to understand my day. Saturday started with a Visiting Pet Program outing to see my friends at Colonial Oaks Living Center. I stayed true to our VPP motto–Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles–as I went from room to room to see the residents. I also visited with the staff, who needed a little cheering up after a sad week. There was no time for a nap when I got home, because my LSU Tigers had an important football game against the Auburn Tigers . . . or War Eagles . . . they can’t quite decide who they want to be. My Tigers found themselves in a slight scoring deficit early in the game, but I didn’t give up on them and they rallied to capture the win. It took a lot of effort on my part to get that victory for my team. I was tired, but I had one last social engagement for the day. Tallulah and I closed out the night by accompanying our humans on a little Magazine Street stroll to celebrate New Orleans’ Art for Arts’ Sake. We visited with artists, saw lots of costumed humans who were getting a jump-start on Halloween, and stopped into our favorite watering hole where our human mommy enjoyed the air conditioning, our human daddy caught up on college football scores, and Tallulah and I did what we usually do: attracted and reveled in attention. By the time we returned home, I was a bit exhausted. I curled up on my blanket on the couch, which is kind of a special treat for me, and I said goodbye to a busy day and hello to a relaxing night.

Tomorrow’s photo challenge is BEST FRIEND. I’m pretty sure you can guess who that’s going to be. ūüôā

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Pet Therapy: Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles

In many ways, my human mommy/blogging assistant and I¬†are a team. We do our best teamwork when we’re bringing love and leaving smiles for the Visiting Pet Program. We started the process of becoming a pet therapy team about two years ago. Because most of our work¬†would be¬†done in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, our initial evaluation simulated what we would experience during our visits: a raucous round of bingo, walkers and wheelchairs navigating hallways, slightly-less-than-gentle petting, unexpected loud noises. My manners were perfect, I handled each step of the evaluation beautifully, and we moved on to our probationary visits. During¬†three months of¬†probationary visits, we were paired with human¬†buddies (senior members of the Visiting Pet Program)¬†who watched as we¬†met with¬†the residents at several different nursing homes. And then in December 2015, my human mommy and I became a full-fledged pet therapy team for the Visiting Pet Program.

Mommy and I do our¬†regular monthly visits at a place called Colonial Oaks Living Center. We spend about an hour going from room to room to see our friends. They love telling us about all the dogs they’ve had through the years. I love being petted and told how pretty and sweet I am. It can be kind of exhausting, so sometimes I lie down and take a¬†quick nap. No one seems to mind. In fact, I think my little naps are somehow comforting to my friends.

We also do special visits. Mommy and I have been to a summer camp at the Lighthouse for the Blind. I was a big hit there. All the campers said I was super soft. A couple of months ago we visited Camp Tiger, a free camp for children who are physically and/or mentally challenged organized by the LSU Health Sciences Center and staffed by medical school students. Last fall, we attended the blessing of the animals at Christ Church Cathedral.

Tallulah and my human daddy joined us at that visit . . . unofficially, of course.¬†The humans thought Tallulah could use a little blessing. Turns out an exorcism might have been more appropriate at that point in her life. My little sister has calmed down a lot since then, and one day I think she’ll make an excellent therapy dog . . . but not yet.

Back to the real team. Our favorite visits are the ones that we¬†do with university students¬†before they take¬†big tests. We’ve helped students at Loyola University relax before finals and calmed the nerves of physical therapy students in the LSU School of Allied Health Professions. Most of our university visits have been with the students at Tulane University School of Medicine.

They have two¬†really important¬†tests each year. There’s a lot of pressure, and they can get pretty stressed out. You should have seen this group when they walked into the room where we were meeting: eyes focused on the ground, shoulders hunched, fists clenched. Within five minutes we were all on the ground. They were petting and hugging me, laughing, sharing photos of their dogs back home, and snapping selfies with yours truly. It felt good to bring a little love their way, and I definitely left some super big smiles. Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a great time. And I hope you remember to bring love and leave smiles. Cheers!