Happy New Year from Me and the Doods

In many ways 2017 was a difficult year. I hope that recapping the work accomplished by the Doods and their fellow therapy dogs will help us all focus on the positives in the world.

From meeting Lakers Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr. as we all brought Halloween to the patients at Mattel Children’s Hospital to helping Santa at Providence Tarzana’s adopt a family day, the Doods and I were fortunate to take part in so many amazing events. Still, I will only write about one as I look back on the year because I want to focus on the quieter, less seen moments. They are the true heart of what our dogs so unselfishly accomplish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UCLA student athlete event in March was bittersweet because it turned out to be Charley’s last “job.” He interacted with everyone with his usual grace and sweetness, little Gus by his side. At one point, I had the privilege of walking through the campus hall of fame. As entranced as I was with room after room of gleaming athletic awards and trophies, I was most taken with the portrait of the legendary John Wooden. In retrospect, there is a beauty in knowing that my legendary therapy dog spent his last evening in such a special place.

 

 

 

 

 

As I recall meaningful moments, I see the face of the man at the adult health center who was smiling for the first time in a year. I also see the beaming face of the young man whose hands are severely crippled but who loves to have me put treats between his fingers for Gus.

I see anxious parents sitting in the small waiting room outside of the UCLA neuropsych units. Recently, as we were leaving, the mother of a very disturbed young girl told me how much her daughter adores the dogs and how much she talks about them. With a wistful smile she simply said, “thank you for visiting.”

Neither the staff who were watching or I will ever forget Elbee’s interaction with a young patient who had been out of control and screaming, and according to the therapists, “a danger to self and others.” Within a matter of minutes the child went from petting Elbee and applauding his tricks to dropping down on the floor to teach him how to take a bow.

This year there were countless times outside of the hospital when the Doods suddenly brightened someone’s day. We were walking past a market when a teenage boy, who was working outside picking up carts, saw the dogs and got a huge grin on his face. Petting them, he asked if it was okay to give them a hug. When I assured him that it was fine, he wrapped his arms around them and said, “My heart feels warmer.”

My son-in-law Jay, who is wonderful despite being a self-admitted cat person, perhaps put it best. He said that when I’m out with the dogs, “random acts of positivity seem to circle around us.”

Wishing everyone a year of peace,  love and positivity!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Did What??

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Last week, Charley, Gus and several other dogs in the UCLA People Animal Connection brought trick or treat to the patients at Mattel Children’s Hospital.  Cheering up the kids was an absolute delight but having another excuse to dress up the dogs was the icing on the cake. I have to say they looked fabulous in orange tinsel, mylar pumpkin wreaths and festive headbands.

ELBEE She forgot to mention the wig on Gus. Personally I think she took advantage of his age and inexperience. I refused to wear it which is probably why I got left home.     

20161027_100846Everything was going well until someone from Telemundo, a huge Spanish language TV station that was covering the event, asked if anyone could speak Spanish. I can “habla” a little and I like practicing so I raised my hand. Next thing I know I’m in front of the camera for an on air interview. Then the camera man from another Spanish language station came over to ask a few questions.

At first it seemed like fun. Then I realized that being able to “habla” a bit is not the same as having it recorded for posterity. People would be able to pause their televisions because they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Some might even think it was a weird new sitcom.

Later that day the middle daughter was over to visit and confirmed my worst fears. When I told her about the interview, her response was, “You did what?” Then I told her about the second one and she gasped, “What were you thinking?”

20161105_084012CHARLEY  I hate to say it, but I’m on team daughter for this one. And yes, I wore the wig last year. I should be up for sainthood.

 

On the bright side, I didn’t get any hate mail from the Spanish speaking community. Hey, maybe I can extend my 15 minutes of fame. Dancing with the Stars has never wanted me but how about a telenovela?

THE DOODS Ay, Dios Mio!!

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