Saturday, February 26, 2011

Skipping School

Seeing that my transportation was broken this morning, I had no choice but to stay home from school. Like any teenager, I like to live it up when I get an unexpected day off. Here are my results: 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Afternoon Stroll

Some things in life are simple. What else does a therapy dog need but a 55 degree day, sunshine, and a sycamore stick to carry around? My apologies to any other pedestrians that I whacked with the stick. Oops.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My First Haiku!

I'm just so excited this morning. One of my fans on Facebook took the time to write a haiku about me. That's right--I got a poem written about me just in time for Valentine's Day!
Maggie and her sticks
squirrels running in immense fear
it all comes from love

Jodi Johnson-Waddell

What's Under Here?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Walk

Who knew snow made a good toy?
Tastes good.
Wait a minute, is this thing sturdy?
Hey, it broke!
Just a minute. Squirrel?
No dogs? What?
I don't see anyone looking.
Who turned on the lights?

A Call to Playful and Peaceful Compassion

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Between appointments

Ever wonder what I do between appointments? Here I am yesterday captured in action. Before the video started I went into the human's bag and stole my cow trachea that he brought to work. Here is what happens after the theft:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Maggie Celebrates

In honor of the human being voted onto the board of New England Pet Partners this afternoon, I decided that a celebration was in honor. I stole his plastic water bottle. Here is what happened:

Chinese Medicine to the Rescue

Many of you know me as a rambunctious, cuddly, and generally outgoing puppy. I've not always been that way--as I puppy I was a rather shy dog. With lots of good socialization I've transformed much of that shy behavior into something generally gregarious.

That's not always the case for me. My anxiety has been creeping back up again over the last few months. First I thought it was because of some bad experiences at the vet. You'd be anxious too if you had those sorts of exams. The human built back up a schedule of socialization and kept on giving me many positive interactions with things that I was scared of (visiting the vet office, going to unfamiliar places, meeting men with facial hair). This was going along well and then my anxiety went back up: driving to work one day we went over a patch of interstate that was being resurfaced. The rumbling got me me and I started shaking. Now I'm prone to trembling every time I get into the car. The 12 hour car ride to Cleveland didn't help.

Things keep on moving in the wrong direction so the human decided to bring in professional help. Yesterday afternoon we headed out for a consult with our friendly veterinarian and holistic health specialist, Dr. Cirnigliaro, also known as Dr. Dan.

I sure did put on a good show for him. I pranced right into the waiting room and put my paws up on the reception desk. Friendly as friendly can be, right? Well as soon as the assistant came out I hid behind my human and started licking my lips trying to calm myself. Two licks was all it took before I decided it was time to panic. I started trembling--softly at first and then my whole body vibrated. I tucked my tail tight between my legs for good measure.

Yes. It's true. I'm a fearful dog. Only in certain circumstances, and not even in those certain circumstances with any degree of regularity.

Still--this is no way to live!

Dr. Dan gave me an exam. I'm perfectly healthy. Despite my shaking and trembling he commented that I have nearly a perfect temperament. I let them examine me--I didn't fight or argue. With a little coaxing I came to them (they had food--like I was going to give that up!). Before I knew it both assistants were on the floor cooing over me. I approached slowly, on my own terms, from the side. They knew not to look straight at me--and I knew to look at them from the side of my eyes. We did this little dance and it let me feel safe. Before we knew it I was rolling over getting my belly pet and kissing the assistants.

That Dr. Dan is a different story--he has facial hair. I'm not so sure about that.

So Dr. Dan did a regular wellness exam. He also felt my various pulses and looked at my tongue. Can you believe that? I'm told this part of the examination is for the traditional Chinese Medicine. I was very cooperative with this part of the examination. I was nervous so I was yawning in an attempt to calm myself down. It just so happens that when I yawn I unfurl my tongue. Volia. Examination complete.

After lots of careful thought and conversation, we've decided I'm going to start on an herbal preparation called Shen Calmer.

Shen what? Depending on where you are, shen means different things. In ancient Egypt a shen ring was a circle with a line at a tangent through it. When objects appeared inside the shen ring, the object was considered to be eternally protected. In Chinese mythology shen (which means large clam monster) is a shape shifting dragon that is known to cause mirages. In this particular case, shen comes from traditional Chinese medicine--and it is associated with the element of fire. From this perspective I have too much shen (fire) and need to cool down a bit so I can be back in balance. The herbal mixture that I'm taking, called Shen Calmer, is designed to calm my shen and cool me down.

I'll report back to you all in three or four weeks. Dr. Dan tells me that it will take about that long to see if this preparation works for me. If it doesn't, or if I need more support, we might consider acupuncture.

The human of course will be upping his behavioral interventions. I'll be doing a lot more structured supervised socialization activities. I'm probably going to be going for a lot of short car rides and be given a steady stream of tasty chicken. Why, you ask? Multiple short exposures to things that frighten me (car rides) paired with pleasurable activities (eating chicken) is an excellent behavioral intervention for anxiety.

I also have the feeling that my daily exercise program is going to increase. The snow has gotten in the way of our hour long walks every morning. That's a wonderful opportunity to use up some of my extra energy and provides a calming tonic effect on my well-being.

If you have similar things going on I strongly invite you to consult with a well qualified veterinarian and dog coach. Some of these interventions seem simple (chicken in the car, for example) but really aren't. When exposure therapy is done wrong, you'll make your anxiety go up. That's not what you want to happen!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maggie the Abominable Snow Puppy

Well it's been nearly constant snow here in New England. It's really getting in the way of my therapy-dog duties. Yesterday I elected to stay home rather than to brave snow, ice, commuter rail, and the MBTA. Today the human stayed home since the blizzard continued.

Take for example the sidewalk in front of my house. I used to be able peer all around from the sidewalk. I could see the white fluffy dog across the street. I could gaze at the greyhound that lives around the corner. I could carefully inspect the road to see if the human w
as returning home in the (unlikely) event that he was somewhere without me.

Now? Now I can't see a thing from the sidewalk. Just an enormous pile of snow. I think it might take until May for it all to melt.

So what's a therapy dog to do? Play--of course. Since I had no therapy dog duties today I shed my serious demeanor and became the Abominable Snow Puppy. Little did I know that the snow is several times deeper than I am tall. I tried leaping over the snow only to fall in and disappear. I tried walking on top of the snow and, well, that didn't work out so well either. I also tried eating the snow--there is just simply too much for that to make a significant difference.

I settled for running back and forth a few times before collapsing in exhaustion.

I think I'm rather cute. Don't you?