Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Weimaraner Wednesday

Weimaraner Wednesday has a new meaning for us as it has become our new Delta Therapy Dog visiting day.  Jam resumed her visits a few weeks ago and the consumers and staff were beyond thrilled to have her back.  As mentioned in a previous post, we visit a residence that is part of the Rockland County Association for Learning Disabilities and had wanted a pet therapy team for a long time. From the start back in the fall, Jam was a hit and I was honored to be asked back and offered to do weekly visits. The residents or consumers as they are called, are mostly men in their mid-twenties with ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders) plus developmental disabilities and neurological issues and are non-verbal. 

Due to Jam's season and breeding plans, we had taken seven weeks off before returning. When we visited, it was as if we had never left. The staff of course, were very excited to see us and I was happy to see that the consumers remembered us. We met one of them outside and he immediately put his hand out to pet Jam!  We went into the rec center and had a nice visit with the consumers wanting to do their favorite tricks with Jam.

Last week's visit was a bit different as the rec center was occupied so the staff asked if Jam would be okay in the house in the TV room and she was fine. It was more intimate than the rec center and I think a little better as the consumers all sat on couches and it was easier for all to pay attention and get their time with Jam. One of the consumers started to do something new with Jam, not sure if he was copying one of the other consumers, who always loves to feed Jam, but this consumer wanted to repeatedly feed Jam a treat from his open hand. He smiled, which his aide said was the first time he had smiled all day and then he laughed and smiled some more.  The consumers each have their favorite things to do with Jam, some feed her, others give her the hand signals to down, spin or speak, which is a big crowd-pleaser. We really crammed a lot of quality interaction into our visit.

Today's visit was extra special as one of the consumers had a private visit with Jam as the other consumers were at their therapeutic horseback riding lesson. This consumer continues to feel more comfortable with Jam each visit and reaches out to her independently. May not seem like a big deal but for this individual, it is huge.  This is also the same consumer who first started to feed Jam treats last week and he again surprised us by opening his hand for me to put a treat on it so Jam could get it! The resident behaviorist witnessed this for the first time and was thrilled.  The consumer laughed and smiled when Jam ate the treat from his hand.  We all smiled too!

I guess we should say this was a truly Wonderful Weimaraner Wednesday!

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