Likely it was not so much my photographic skills as it was the handsomeness of my subjects, but this picture I took of an old man and a dog was chosen for inclusion in the 2014 Caring Canines Calendar.
Produced by the AMDA Foundation, the calendar features 12 outstanding therapy pets from across the country, pictured with those with whom they work and for whom they provide companionship.
The client in this one happens to be my 89-year-old dad, and the dog happens to be Henry Higgins, who works where my father now resides, at Mission Palms Health and Rehabilitation in Mesa, Arizona.
We wrote last year about the bond they’ve developed.
The 2014 Caring Canines Calendar (you can click the link to order) is the fifth one put out by the foundation, a nonprofit arm of the American Medical Directors Association. Proceeds from the calendar support foundation programs.
Each month features a pet (mostly dogs, but one bird makes an appearance) who is providing therapy or companionship at a long-term care facility.
As the calendar notes, “The presence of animals is becoming increasingly popular in long term care residential facilities, and for good reason — studies have documented that pets help reduce depression, loneliness, and anxiety; improve mental function; and lower blood pressure and heart rate.”
The calendar contains photographs and stories selected from the submissions contributed by residents and staff members of long term care facilities.
Henry belongs to Christina Higgins, a physical therapist at Mission Palms.
I first wrote a piece for ohmidog! after meeting them during a visit last year, and that’s when I took the photo of my dad looking wise, and Henry looking wiser yet.
That old post is one of many that got gobbled up or lost in space when we recently changed servers for this website. (Data migration is as dangerous as it sounds, and can lead to broken links, also painful.)
But here’s a piece of it I found:
As my soon-to-be 89-year-old father continues on a long uphill road to recovery, there’s a dog helping him get there.
Somehow, that makes me – being, until last week, on the other side of the country – feel more comfortable. More important, I’m guessing it makes him — being a hard core dog lover — feel more that way, too, as well as more motivated, and more at home in a strange place.
My dad became ill last year, entering a hospital with stomach problems and suffering a heart attack while there that would lead to an induced coma of several weeks. Once he came out of it, he had to relearn things like eating and walking, and — having a lot more fight in him than most people — he made great progress during his stay in a skilled nursing facility in Mesa called Mission Palms.
He was fortunate enough to be assigned to a therapist named Christina, and her dog, Henry Higgins. Henry, now about a year and half, has been working at Mission Palms since he was three months old, and the first thing I noticed about him was how he made everyone’s face light up upon seeing him, both patients and staff, and definitely my father’s.
For starters, they played some fetch, which required my father hoisting himself out of his wheelchair and throwing a tennis ball. My father did the work, but I think the anticipation on Henry’s face — as he sat there looking at him, patiently waiting — provided the encouragement. After that, a putting green was hauled out and my father tried to sink some putts, as Henry looked on.
Henry is a pointer-setter mix, with long brown hair from his tail to the top of his head, but short hair on his muzzle. Christina, who chose him from a friend’s litter, said “he was the biggest, ugliest one, just a big huge fur ball.”
Out of all the pups, she said, he seemed the most sociable and interested in humans.
I know surgeons and doctors probably deserve most of the thanks, and are the main reason my father is still around. But as for right now, amid all other uncertainties … I’m probably most grateful that he’s in the capable hands of a caring therapist and an encouraging dog. Thanks, Henry.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014, amda foundation, animals, bill woestendiek, blood pressure, calendar, caring canines, caring canines calendar, christina higgins, dogs, health benefits, henry, henry higgins, loneliness, long term care, mental health, mission palms, nursing homes, parents, pets, photography, senior citizens, therapist, therapy, therapy dogs
The parents of a 10-year-old girl have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child after holiday travelers spotted the girl riding in a crate with the family dog.
Authorities received multiple calls about the girl Monday evening after she was seen in the crate, in the back of a pick-up truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The girl did not appear harmed, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Abbey Carlson, 29, and Thomas Fishinger, 30, were arraigned Tuesday morning and released on their own recognizance. They are due in court June 6 for a preliminary hearing.
An eastbound motorist on the turnpike in Beaver County called state police at 7:01 p.m. to report seeing a girl in a dog cage in the bed of the pickup, troopers said. Troopers received a second call a few minutes later from another motorist near the Butler County line.
Motorists provide a license number of the pickup, state troopers said. They traced the registration and alerted officers in Millvale, where the family lives. The truck was pulled over near their home. The couple told police they were driving home from his mother’s house in Beaver County.
According to The Smoking Gun, Fishinger was arrested less than a week ago on charges of identity theft and access device fraud, but released from jail after making bail.
(Top photo, an obscured image of the girl in the crate, taken by another motorist and posted on Reddit; bottom photo, Facebook)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, caged, charged, child, crate, crated, daughter, dogs, endangering, endangerment, girl, highway, kennel, memorial day, parents, pennsylvania turnpike, pets, photos, pickup truck, transportation, travel, travelers, welfare
One pitfall of freeloading, I’ve learned – at least twice now – is that every person’s home has its own quirks, whether it’s a toilet that’s tricky to flush, water faucets in which the hot and cold are reversed, or doors that lock behind you when you step outside.
The latter caught me again this week.
After spending a week with my brother in Gilbert, I headed up Friday to spend a couple of days with my father in Scottsdale. Ace, who he and his wife Bonnie had met before, reconnected with the both of them, and so dazzled them with his good behavior that they felt okay about leaving him in the house when we all went out to eat some Mexican food.
A couple hours later, around 8 p.m., they went to bed, first showing me the ropes – like the light that, because of no off switch, must be unplugged, the switch to turn off the ceiling fan, how their TV remote (a device that has grown increasingly complex in recent years) worked.
I kicked off my shoes, hopped on the couch, started blogging, switched to watching TV and dozed off.
Around 11:30 I was awakened by a beeping. The burglar alarm, though not enabled, was spouting off. They were sleeping right through it, so I decided to check the perimeter of their home, and smoke a cigarette while I was at it. I slid open the sliding glass door to the backyard and called Ace, who stuck his head out, felt the temperature outside and pulled his head back in like a turtle.
Fine, stay inside, I said, pushing the sliding door closed to preserve the precious air conditioning.
And hearing an ominous click.
Exactly one month after locking myself out the first time on this trip, at my mother’s home, I’d locked myself out again, at my father’s home. (Please feel free to psychoanalyze that behavior.)
I briefly pondered sleeping outside, but with temperatures still feeling like they were in the 90s, I motioned for Ace to come to the door, thinking maybe by some miracle he could lift his paw up and hit the lock to let me back in. Instead he stared at me through the window with a look that said “What are you doing out there?” turned around, walked over to the couch and, always the opportunist, climbed into the spot where I was formerly dozing.
So much for a Lassie-esque rescue.
In my socks, I walked through gravel whose pieces felt like they’d been individually sharpened, and around to the front door, checking windows on the way. Everything was locked up tight, including the front door, which not even my nearly over-the-limit credit card could get open. I briefly worried about the alarm company showing up, seeing me trying to gain entry, and unloading on me. After all, this is Arizona.
I rang the doorbell, once, then twice, then a dozen times, knocked on the door until my knuckles ached, but no one awakened, not even Ace. Then I took to slamming on the door, hard, with my open hand. That got Ace to barking, which, combined with a few dozen more doorbell rings, finally brought my father downstairs to let me in.
“What are you doing out there?” he asked.
I explained the whole thing. He went back to bed. Stressed out by the whole ordeal, I stepped outside for a cigarette, this time insisting my hero dog come with me, and leaving the door open a crack.
(To go back to the beginning of “Dog’s Country,” click here.)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 26th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, america, arizona, dog's country, dogscountry, family, freeloading, lassie, locked out, ohmidog!, parents, phoenix, reescue, road trip, travel, traveling with dogs, visiting, visits
Janice Lloyd, the voice of USA Today’s Paw Print Post, wrote a spectacularly moving piece yesterday about her brother’s golden retriever and the dog’s newfound bond with her aging father.
The dog, Lloyd writes, “has adopted my father since last Thursday, giving him a comfort he can find no place else right now.” At 93, she says, her father is showing signs of dementia, and since his wife fell and broke her hip on a recent vacation cruise, leading to a stay in a nursing home, he’s been staying with his son, Lloyd’s brother, in Delaware.
“My dad gets teary at night when he has to leave his bride in the home. He doesn’t understand why he can’t sleep with her. We explain that he can’t stay there. He thinks she seems OK and can go home. The conversation recurs nightly, often more than once.”
Sophie, the nine-year-old golden retriever, “seemed to sense immediately that Dad needed a care taker. She rose to the occasion. She curls up with him on the sofa and puts her head in his lap. My dad rubs her head and smiles at her. My brother says ‘she doesn’t even do that with me …’
“When it’s time for dad to go to bed, she goes downstairs with him and jumps up on the kingsize bed and stays the night,” Lloyd wrote. Her brother says when her father gets up early in the morning for a trip to the bathroom, he tells Sophie to wait for him in bed. When he comes back, he’ll say “Good girl, Sophie. I’m glad you stayed. Let’s go back to sleep. ”
A veteran of World War II, Lloyd’s father visits his wife in the nursing home every day, often falling asleep in a chair as he holds her hand.
Back at his son’s home, Sophie is the comforter.
“When I drove him to my brother’s from the nursing home Sunday night, Sophie ran up to the side of the car where Dad was sitting. She smiled at him. My brother says Goldens smile. Now I believe it. She greeted my Dad when he got out of the car. She never left his side while we watched a little TV before going to bed.”
Sophie, she says, ”offers a comfort none of us can give him.”
(Photo by Janice Lloyd / USA Today)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging, animals, bond, comfort, dog, dogs, elderly, golden retriever, humans, janice lloyd, nursing home, ohmidog!, parents, paw print post, pets, psychology, relationship, sophie, usa today
At Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, faculty and staff bring their dogs to school every Tuesday during September, gather on a grassy field and allow students to have their homesickness washed away by spending an hour with the hounds.
The events are aimed at helping students overcome their homesickness, which often includes a longing for the family dog, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The “Dog Days” have been held on campus for five years.
They were started by former counseling director Kathy Bradley, now executive director of health and counseling at Gettysburg College. Bradley has started a similar program there. A few times a semester, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, which heard about Susquehanna’s program, brings trained therapy dogs – some owned by staff members – to campus to visit with students.
“The fact is that students miss their pets, sometimes more than they miss their families,” said Anna Beth Payne, associate dean of student life and director of Susquehanna’s counseling center.
Professors especially like the opportunity for the informal gatherings, saying they break the ice and can help make the campus, and the professors, seem less intimidating to students.
Nine dogs showed up on a recent Tuesday, a typical turnout, and dozens of students stopped to play with them, one of whom said she missed her dog, Babe, back home in Maine — at leas as much as she missed her mother.
“It’s a close tie between the dog and my mom,” she said.
(Philadelphia Inquirer photo by Robert Landry)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bucknell, campus, college, colleges, dog, dogs, educations, gettysburg college, homesick, homesickness, life, parents, pennsylvania, pets, professors, students, susquehanna university, universities