Saturday, December 31, 2011

The View From Here: Maggie and the Snuggie

While I appreciate the gift of my Snuggie from my secret admirer, as you can see I was somewhat less than amused when I was woken up from my nap to try it on.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Grandma at last!

We still aren't there yet?!?!?!

Still not there?

How About Now? Are We There Yet?

The View From Here: Are We There Yet?

Dispatch from the road

Crossing the Hudson River

Over The River & Through The Woods grandmother's house we go. I am departing from my undisclosed location in the Merrimack Valley for Ohio.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Dogs Were Hurt in the Filming of This Video

You know how some humans can't seem to walk and chew gum at the same time? Below you will find some video evidence of what happens when those same humans attempt to use video and throw a ball at the same time. It's a good thing I'm a therapy dog with a good nature!

He tried again and paid a little more attention. This was much more fun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The View From Here: Exhausted Edition

It is hard being cute all day.

Secret Santa Saves the Day

For those of you in the know, my human has been bemoaning the fact that Target suddenly stopped carrying his favorite style of Kleenex -- he prefers the kind that come in oval shaped boxes. He had bought them in bulk awhile back and had a closet stuffed with them (what kind of psychologist would run out of Kleenex, right?) .

The supply has slowly dwindled. Things were getting desperate when his cache dropped down to to measly boxes. With the holiday season came a brief reprieve: Target had holiday themed oval boxes.

Joyous times were had by all -- and a sufficient amount of Kleenex was purchased to make it through December. But then what? What would happen if the shelves remained clean of the oval boxes. Would the human have to resort to standard (and boring) Kleenex?

Secret Santa to the rescue! Last week we discovered a bag in the waiting room. Inside of it was a personalized oval tissue box. Who knew the people at Kleenex have a website for making personalized Kleenex. Think of the possibilities!

Monday, December 12, 2011

No pet store puppies

If a pet store sells puppies, I won't buy anything there. Join me, and make a different for puppies and dogs everywhere. No Pet Store Puppies.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Family Portrait

The kind woman who fostered me, my siblings, and my mother recently shared this photo on the Facebook page of Peace and Paws. Can you guess which one I am?

My siblings and I

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chicken three ways

I have a confession to make. I love chicken. My favorite preparation these days are dried chicken strips. My human keeps an enormous bag of them in the closet. When a strip comes out I've been known to engage in every trick I know--at one time--to get said chicken strip. They are delightful. If you've not tried them, I highly recommend it!

Recently I've been noticing a plethora of chicken bones strewn about the roads and sidewalks of Cambridge. Have you noticed them? Hardly a week goes by without discovring a chicken bone somewhere on the sidewalk. Being a somewhat dangerous food item, my human has developed an uncanny ability to spot them. Sometimes I spot them before he does. Since he has been pulling them out of my mouth I have developed my own uncanny ability: I hide them in my mouth and chew when he isn't looking. The crunch always gives me away.

I wasn't fully prepared for the next preparation of chicken that I was to discover. The human and I had a long break between patients. Since the gates of Harvard Yard are currently locked I couldn't engage in my favorite activity of squirrel chasing. I know, there are squirrels everywhere. The ones in the yard are more trusting so I can sneak up closer, and usually I get more of an audience which I appreciate. At any rate, we struck out on some of the lesser traveled roads. We were going to head over to the MIT campus and see what their squirrels were like.

We approached the MIT campus from the river and stumbled upon a a small public park. The satellite image shows an aerial view of the scene we happened upon.

What did I find here this past Thursday? Chickens. Live ones. Apparently those in the know have known about these chickens for awhile. We were planning on walking through the small green park when the human spotted several chickens clucking about. What was even more amazing was who was in charge of these chickens. Behind the fence was a beautiful and friendly pit bull. The chicken, working hard to escape my hungry mouth (like the human would ever let me eat one!), jumped over the fence and sat on the pit bull's back and clucked at me.

What a sight!

We captured a few cell phone images for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Therapy Dog Round Up: Dancing Dogs, Cruelty, and a Lawsuit

Friday, December 2, 2011

Erik Erickson: A Therapy Dog's View

This is part two of a very occasional series of posts about my take on different psychological theories. Earlier this year I took a look at Urie Bronfenbrenner's ecological approach to life. Who knew this would be my most popular post? As of this evening, over 4,430 people have viewed that blog entry. I'm thankful that the post is so popular: my human met him once and found him to be a very kind man.
Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom. -- Erik Erikson
Today we draw our attention to Erik Homberger Erikson. Please note, this is someone radically different from the conservative commentator Erick Erickson. The two would have very little in common in their world views.

Erik was born on June 15, 1902 in Frankfort am Main, Germany. After graduating from high school, he moved to Florence Italy to study art. By 1927 he was teaching a a psychoanalytically informed school for children in Vienna that was started by Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud. Deeply influenced by this work, Erikson earned a certificate from the Maria Montessori School and later did psychoanalytic training at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.

After graduating from the psychoanalytic institute in 1933, Erikson and his wife fled the Nazis who had come to power in Germany. His long career included positions at Massachusetts General Hospital  Judge Baker Guidance Center, Harvard Medical School, and University of California Berkeley. While in California Erikson studied children on a Sioux reservation for a year as well as children in the and Yurok tribe. Erikson left Berkeley when professors were asked to sign a loyalty oath. He returned to Massachusetts first working at the Austen Riggs Center for a decade and finally returning to Harvard. He remained a professor of human development at Harvard University until he retired in 1970.

Erik Erikson's highest academic degree was a high school diploma. In 1973 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Erikson for the Jefferson Lecture, which is the US government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. His lecture was entitled "Dimensions of a New Identity." 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Happens When you Tickle a Gorilla?

They giggle, of course. Wouldn't you?

If you want to hear more about the story, check out this clip:

Thanks to Steven Motson for spotting this clip!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beagle Takes First Steps in Grass

So this video has been making the rounds lately. A group of beagles who had only known life inside metal research cages were rescued. There sure are awfully cute.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Puppy in a Pumpkin

Some things are just too cute. This is one example. For the whole story, check out Ahnung's blog.

Contest: Which Banner Picture is Your Favorite?

It's that time of year to update my banner on the blog. Here are some of my favorite pictures. Vote for the one you like best: popular opinion rules. Your favorite one will be retouched and posted on the blog for Winter 2011-2012.

option 1
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4
Option 5

Maggie takes a Holiday Stroll

at Fort Hill Park in Lowell, Massachusetts
Yesterday was a super busy day for me. I spent about a half an hour outside of of Hannaford Grocery Store greeting customers and passing out a little therapy dog love. I went to a place near the grocery store called Fort Hill Park (click here to learn all about that adventure). Then early in the evening it was time to head out to Nashua New Hampshire for their annual Holiday Stroll. One of my humans had volunteered to help set up a local church for some of the festivities.

Large public crowds like this aren't for dogs who aren't accustomed to being around a lot of people. It really was a bit too much for me. Thousands of people milling about created all sorts of distractions. My favorite was the "street food". I found it delicious, my human however found himself exasperated prying chicken bones out of my hungry little mouth.

Eventually my human scooped me up as we strolled down Main Street. This was much better for me: my short legs and strangely long body is a very inconvenient body type.When I was up at eye level I was able to scan the crowd for those who were most in need of my therapy dog attention.

The best was a few moments I shared with a young gentleman in the crowd. He was in his early 20s and at the holiday stroll with his father. It appeared that he had some sort of developmental disability. He saw  me and told me what a gorgeous dog I am. His father prompted him to ask my human if he could pet me. Before the human answered I stretched out from my humans arms and pressed my nose against the young man's face. He pet me for a bit, he spoke with the humans for a bit, and we were on our way.

Isn't it easy to wish someone a happy holiday?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free Therapy

Here I am between providing therapeutic kisses outside of Hannaford grocery store.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dogs help veterans cope with psychological war scars

Dogs help veterans cope with psychological war scars

NORFOLK, Va (Reuters) - As the number of veterans grappling with the psychological scars of war mounts, a miniature Australian Shepherd named Jonas represents a newer breed of treatment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jonas, a peppy 2-year-old, is a legal service dog, trained to scan owner Ian Lord for signs of stress oranxiety and respond with licks, cuddles and demands for pats.

Lord, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran in Norfolk, Virginia, credits his specialized pet with helping him cope with the mental aftershocks of war.

"He makes it a lot easier to recover from a trigger, like sounds of a helicopter overhead," Lord said. "The difference is, instead of getting wound up about it the rest of the day, it's like OK, go outside and throw a ball around, or just cuddle up to him a bit and kind of snap out of it."

The number of veterans receiving PTSD treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs rose from 254,930 in 2006 to 408,167 in 2010, an increase that could continue when 40,000 more U.S. troops return home from Iraq at year's end.

Psychotherapy and cognitive processing therapy, which includes education and awareness about symptoms, are the department's main treatment methods, said deputy chief consultant for specialty mental health Sonja Batten.

But other experimental treatments also are being used, including yoga, acupuncture, meditation and psychological service dogs like Jonas.

"There is an interest in the PTSD community in exploring a variety of different ways to approach the problem," Batten said.

The department doesn't know how many veterans are using service dogs as part of their treatment, and there is debate over whether the approach is beneficial.

PTSD dogs perform an exercise called "backing," where the dog walks directly behind the veteran and provides a sense of protection from unknown, imagined and frightening things, said Lynette Nilan, the department's strategic planning and measurement director.

"You kind of get into this (debate) of, is it in the patient's best interests to deal with those unfounded fears ...(or to) reinforce those fears by having a dog stand behind you to protect you from something that you really shouldn't have to be protected from," she said.


A new study is underway to determine whether psychological service dogs can help veterans overcome PTSD and, if they prove effective, to develop usage criteria and guidelines. The study will aim to pair at least 200 dogs with veterans in Florida and Colorado, Nilan said.

Carol Borden, executive director of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. in Williston, Florida -- one of the organizations taking part in the study -- said dogs are specifically trained according to an individual's needs.

"We talk to each veteran and find out exactly what their challenges are," she said. "There are multitudes of things we can teach the dogs to do, depending on each individual's circumstances."

Lord, who now works part-time while applying for graduate school, saw four years of active duty as a loadmaster in the Air Force, flying missions carrying troops and cargo into Iraq, Afghanistan and surrounding countries.

He said he was diagnosed with PTSD after suffering "almost the stereotypical meltdown" in 2010, when a simulation-style training course stirred suppressed memories of getting shot at in Iraq.

Lord was removed from flight status and later was honorably discharged from the service for unrelated reasons, he said.

Jonas came into his life thanks to his wife Megan, a 23-year-old medical student. She had been training Jonas as a therapy dog for hospital patients, but it wasn't a good match, she said. Hospital dogs weren't allowed to lick, and Jonas did a lot of licking.

The couple noticed Jonas would start cuddling and licking Ian whenever he exhibited PTSD symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and sleeping problems.

That sealed the pooch's fate as a PTSD service dog. His service is prescribed by Lord's psychiatrist, giving Jonas the same legal rights of entry to businesses and public spaces as guide dogs for the blind.

"As soon as people hear he's a PTSD dog, the next thing out of their mouths is, 'Oh, thank you for your service, sir,'" Lord said. "They connect the dots pretty quickly."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cats and Hurricanes

My household feline companions are finding this tropical storm formally known as Hurricane Irene to be the most amusing thing. At various points during the day I've caught them transfixed staring out the window. Here is Iggy standing atop the dryer looking at all the various treats blowing across the skylight.

I bet he wouldn't be so amused if he had to be out in the rain.

The View From Here: Are you Nuts (?) Edition

I think my human has lost his mind. He seems to think I'm going to go outside into this mess. Is he nuts? I'm staying right here on my little tuffet until the weather conditions improve.

The View From Here: Irene's Morning Wind Edition

My human predicted that this was going to happen. I woke up this morning and poked my head out the front door, sat down inside the threshold, and looked up at my human. Who is he kidding thinking I'm going outside? He finally coaxed me out the door and off the porch. I just stood there amazed at how the wind would pick up and make my ears go aloft. It's a cute trick. I bet you wish your ears could do that!

I'm currently refusing to do any outdoor business until conditions improve. I can wait. Really.

Anyway, here is the beginning winds of hurricane Irene. I'll periodically direct the human to capture a clip of the weather as long as it is safe to be standing in the front yard. As you can see, the oak trees are likely going to look very threatening as the day goes on.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mindful Dog Walking

Today I'd like to talk to you about something of the utmost importance: mindful dog walking. Those of you who live in more rural areas might have a different experience, but here in the city I've had repeated experiences that are just too disturbing to remain silent about. That's right.

It's time we get serious and talk about those of you who walk your dogs in urban areas paying no attention to your surroundings.

On three separate occasions yesterday I was accosted by leashed dogs. Their owners were wandering around in la-la land and allowed their dogs to run right up into my face. On rather frightening beast snarled and exposed his teeth at me. I'm being generous here because at least one of the humans (companion to the snarling beast) was aware of what was happening and didn't do anything to stop the behavior.

How do you feel when a stranger runs up to you and sticks there nose in your face?

You don't like it? Well we dogs don't like it either. There is a certain dance well socialized and well behaved dogs do when they meet each other. We use very loud and obvious non-verbal language to communicate with each other. I let people know I'm submissive, for example. I usually will crouch down and look to the side when I see another dog approaching. My tail will go down between my legs. I'll lick my lips. In doing this, I communicate I am not dangerous, I am a friend, and I will not hurt you. I wait for the other dog to signal their intentions: when they do we will circle each other and sniff. That's how we shake hands. Then and only then we will play.

Back to the nose in the face. Yesterday these three dogs payed no attention to my non-verbals and ran right up into my face. This signifies and attack of my personal space and a potential attack of my human. I will respond. You can expect barking, you can expect teeth to be exposed. I will fight if I must, even though I'm little and very scared. I will protect myself and my human as best I can.

You can also expect that my human will respond very rapidly by placing himself sideways between me and the other dog. It's usually enough to stop the other dog when he blocks, prevents the two dogs from having eye contact, refuses to make eye contact with the dog himself, and provides a stronger non-verbal to the approaching dog.

Knowing that I don't have to protect I will run behind my human and cower. I'm an easily frightened dog.

The human is also known to verbally bite. He's tolerance has run out for these sorts of interactions. Beware as he has not yet had his rabies vaccinations. I'm not sure if you can get rabies from him yelling at you. Be on the safe side thought, okay?

What's my point here?

Too many humans are watching dog trainers on television and think they have it all figured out. You don't have it all figured out. Just like children need to have adults supervise their play on the playground to learn important social skills, dogs need to have adult supervision on a playground so they can learn proper canine interpersonal skills.

The adult humans, by the way, need to have supervised play with their dogs too. This learning, which only can happen with the guidance of an excellent human coach, helps humans become aware of how to safely support their dogs when approaching new dogs.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dogs and Disabilities

I've been so busy barking at the dog across the street I've forgotten to tell you about an experience I had the other day. There is a small park across the street from my office. On short breaks the human will run me across the street so I can sniff, meet the public, and do some other business in the bushes.

The other week I met a dog that was busy hiding between her human's legs. I barely noticed her poking her nose out from under the human's skirt! The human was a little wary. This small auburn colored curly haired dog looked a little scared and had it's back arched up. I wasn't hesitant at all so despite my human's complaints, I went right up to the dog.

I circled around a few times like any well mannered dog does. We sniffed as we got closer. The dog came out of hiding and we ended up spending a few minutes nose to nose sniffing.

It was at that point, as our noses were touching, that my human started talking to the other dog's human. It turns out my new friend was 16 years old, deaf, and blind.

The human thought it was pretty amazing that my new friend and I knew exactly how to approach either other. He found it particularly interesting that I somehow knew to reign in my usual exuberant greeting for this senior dog. I was slower and more gentle than usual, but I really didn't appear to care that there was something different about this dog.

If only the humans could figure this out so easily. Encounter difference perhaps a little slower, a little gentler, but approach nonetheless, and do so with an open mind, wagging tail, and gentle smile.