Behind bars is exactly the place I never want Bernie and Chris to experience.
For 90 percent of the time, my dogs range free. They are very well trained, and I do have them on an invisible leash. They wear a reminder collar, and I have the remote device in my left hand. These days I rarely use it.
While I walk alone, they range up to almost a football field away, enjoying investigating whatever is ‘out there.’
‘Out There’ is either the actual desert or a very large vacant lot. The desert is easy to find. Large vacant lots are quickly becoming scarce in this part of Arizona.
Recently, we lost a nearby vacant lot. It was perfect. It was about a mile from my home. No one was ever around. It was semi-landscaped and didn’t have rabbits, coyotes or rattlesnakes. All bushes had been cleared, so I had total visual contact with both dogs.
We enjoyed that property for almost a year. Soon a huge mental hospital will capture the entire block.
Bernie is a white Golden Doodle. He’s five years old. He is the first dog I’ve trained to be a therapy dog. He weighs 80 pounds.
A dog breeder saw Bernie and said he needed a buddy. She gave me one of her dogs. Chris is an Apricot standard poodle. He is four years old. He weighs 47 pounds, a bit small for a standard poodle. Standard poodles usually weigh 65 pounds. Chris is my second therapy dog. I admit he was a bit difficult to train. He can be stubborn, but this last year he has totally blossomed into a great dog.
Both dogs have bonded and play-fight all day long. We visit between three and five nursing homes and senior centers each month. Both dogs are allowed inside the facilities at the same time. We have been providing therapy visits for more than three years.
This is at a Senior Center in Sun City, Arizona. It was taken before I acquired Chris.
Early in our therapy visits, we were invited to participate in a Nursing Home July festival. The staff all wore costumes. Here’s Bernie’s costume:
Sure, he looks cute now… but this is the hassle it took Melanie to get him to accept this costume…
Such is the life of a therapy dog… It is always an adventure.
For more than four years I’ve been sharing my adventures training Bernie and Chris. I’ve written more than 120 very short stories. The finished book is in the process of being published. There are always minor details. <sigh>
I’m considering sharing some of the stories on this blog.