Pet Tips 'n' Tales

The Carousel's Therapy Dog

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Carousel Bed and Breakfast proprietors Judd and Sharon with their official B.B. greeter Sidney.  Sidney is one of three therapy dogs serving the Cottage Grove community.

TALES

Judd has loved dogs since the age of 9.  His first inseparable buddy was Boots. Now six decades later, Judd still loves and admires dogs.

Boots was a boy's best friend, a Collie/Aussie mix that went everywhere with Judd for 14 years until his passing. "We ate and slept together," said Judd. "Boots pulled me across the snow on my sled, and he carried my newspaper bags as we delivered The Oregonian. Boots would be surprised to know that he is actually mentioned in a newspaper! Every dog I have had since Boots had big paws to fill, because he was such a special dog.

When Sharon and I married, we adopted P.J. a black Dachshund whose big heart and courage made up for his small stature. P.J. was so brave that this 10-pound dog chased a 700-pound Hereford heifer nose-to-nose when the cow charged Sharon! P.J. had the instinctual courage of a U.S. Marine.  Most dogs would be hi-TAIL-ing it home but not P.J.!" recalls Judd.

Judd's first Aussie was a bonnie lass named Bonnie. "She was hell on wheels until she turned two, and then thankfully she matured!"

Lincoln Middle School was a second home to Bonnie and Judd for 7 years. Judd was the principle and Bonnie attended school with him every day. "She roamed the halls greeting the students and teachers," said Judd. "Bonnie loved their pats and especially the treats they gave her. When students where either sent or 'summoned' to the principle's office goodhearted Bonnie would crawl into their laps, and give them a sloppy kiss, as if to say, "See, someone loves you."

For a casual onlooker, this encounter may have resembled a TV scene of from "Good Cops-Bad Cops" to get the truth from the perpetrator!

After Bonnie's passing they wanted a smaller dog. "We adopted a miniature Australian Shepherd, known as an Aussie. She was small, cute, and stole our hearts.  Because she is an "Aussie" we decided that the Australian city name Sidney sounded better as a dog's name than Melbourne," laughs Sharon.

Then Sidney's hidden-doggy genes took hold. "She grew and grew and grew, until now, at two years of age, she is twice as long, tall, and heavy as she should be. 'A working mini, not a show mini,' quotes our dog trainer. This totally explains her insane passion for herding our chickens, horse and calves! Mystery solved at last!" laughs Judd.

No need for an alarm clock with Sidney! "Every morning, at 6 AM she greets us with the enthusiasm of a four-year-old on Christmas morning, knowing that this will be the best day of her life - and she can barely contain herself in sharing it with you!" said Sharon.

"Sidney is the smartest dog!" adds Judd, "She is clearly a thinking, observant animal. She learns anything after only one or two lessons. She responds to twenty hand commands and signals. But no one is perfect, and neither is Sidney. She will NOT roll over, not for anything," admits Judd.

Actually, according to Nancy Miles of People United for Animals, "Rolling over is not healthy for dogs. Some dogs tangle, torque, or crimp their stomachs or intestines with a fast roll-over action.  This stops the flow of food into their systems and can even cause death. Sidney is obviously a smart dog, as she knows not to do something that is not good for her.  Possibly she once got a bad cramp when she rolled over and knows instinctively not to do it again.  My friend lost her Standard Poodle after rolling over."

Like the expression, "Make your work play and life is a joy," Sidney's happiest times are when she is following my commands and entertaining or helping people. We took this clue and enrolled her in the Delta Society, an organization that trains therapy dogs for hospital, school, and nursing home visits. (www.DeltaSociety.org) Not to boast, but during Sidney's final test of the first three teams of pets and people tested...we were the only ones to pass," proudly boasts Judd!

The Cottage Grove Bohemia Sunrisers Kiwanis club assisted in paying for Sidney's and Judd's training as part of the Kiwanis Governor's project. Money well spent as they are both fabulous ambassadors of smiles and kindness.

"Sidney loves volunteering as a therapy dog at River Bend Hospital and Cottage Grove Hospital," said Judd.  "She acts like riding up and down a hospital elevator is natural for dogs. We visit several waiting rooms, where Sidney licks appreciative hands, wags her tail and makes everyone feel more comfortable.  Anxious patients calm down when they see Sydney's smile.  Families with children especially enjoy her company."

River Bend's receptionist, Kim, admits, "I always give Sidney treats just for being so cute!  We have treats for all the visiting therapy dogs, and after the first time, Sidney knew exactly where we keep them!"

Judd and Sharon are the owners of The Carousel House Bed and Breakfast.  As you can imagine, Sidney is always the first to meet and greet arriving guests and the last to say "Goodbye."  In only the special way a dog can Sidney lets everyone know that she is delighted that they stopped by and to "please come back soon."


TIPS

If you think your dog is purr-fect for a therapy dog, visit www.DeltaSociety.org
 
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