Dogtor B, an ex-shelter dog, became a therapy dog in October 2016. In 2020 he moved from Florida to New Zealand. He loves to talk about his endeavors, his brother Sky, and life in general as an American expat in New Zealand.
Sky turned one this month! That was cause for a big celebration! He hasn’t been with us for that long but we can’t imagine life without him. He is certainly one bundle of joy! Of course, we had to make a slideshow of his monthly photos to show you how he has grown!
I am sad to announce that Operation Ducky I has failed. I tried to get to the heart* of it, but as of yesterday afternoon, around 2:05 p.m. EST, Ducky I, my ally and companion, succumbed. (* Every dog knows that the squeaker is the heart and essence of every playmate aka SA (Stuffed Animal)). Let’s start at the beginning though.
At some point earlier yesterday morning, Ducky I seemed to have stopped squeaking. All doggies instinctively know that you should always, always attempt CPR. So that is what I tried with all my might. SA CPR is tricky and a bit different from your regular CPR. To get to the heart of our playmates, you have to start at the seams. I even got my big sister involved but whatever we did nothing helped poor Ducky. Instead of getting better, he only seemed to get worse as the day wore on. I did find the heart though. However, I may have been a bit too hesitant as I didn’t know right away what to do with it. In the end, I decided to run away with it, and I believe that was the wrong move. To be fair, this was my first rescue mission. Anyway, when I got back to my quarters, poor Ducky lay lifeless on my bed. All may not be lost though as Ducky’s heart still continues to squeak. So, we are talking amongst ourselves how to use this piece of Ducky I once again in the near future. In the meantime, Ducky II has been trained intensively by Ducky I, Ms. Zulu, and me, and is now 100% ready to take over Ducky I’s duties. We must always remember though how Ducky I bravely has kept me company, all those dark lonely nights, in my forever home. R.I.P. Ducky I, I love you forever and will keep your heart close to me,
Ducky I, we will never forget the good times we had together
After putting our heads together, Ms. Zulu and I found a way to get lots of treats and make mom happy at the same time. This is the deal: for every “like” we get on this post, mom will donate $1.00 to the shelter we came from. AND, here is the kicker, my big sister and I will get one treat per dog for every 10 likes! For this purpose, we both put our best paw forward in front of the camera. So hit like and get as many people and animals involved as you can because we want to give back to the shelter we came from and uhhmmm… well, end up with lots of treats in our treat account too. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Saturday morning, I took THE animal therapy exam and I passed! My tail is wagging! HM was a bit nervous but I liked it. There were lots of people waiting in line to pet me. I had to perform 20 different tasks ranging from basic commands to walking through a crowd with obstacles. And again, there was food on the floor that I was supposed to ignore. Such a waste. At least at the end, I got a big treat. AND I now have my own badge saying that I am a therapy animal. Me Benji, the shelter dog! They said that I was the youngest in my group who passed the test. BTW, I chose to wear my Ruffwear harness; it seems to be my lucky charm. Since I wore it during the exam, I will wear it on every visit, so it will be my new uniform.
After the test, we celebrated the occasion with, you guessed it, more treats. Now it is up to HM to do some shadow visits to test the waters and see what sort of facility works best for us as a team. We can choose from a long list of assisted living facilities, senior centers, youth centers, a hospital, libraries, and even a courthouse. Once we know what type of setting we like, we can try a short visit to one of these facilities together. But first, I will take a well-deserved nap.
For a moment, I thought nobody liked me anymore as almost no one responded to my most recent posts. That can’t be right, my assistants assured me. After all, I am Benji, the social butterfly. Then we looked at the WordPress reader and my most recent posts are just not showing up. Either my assistants don’t know what they are doing (and that shouldn’t be true) or WordPress is the one to blame. Let’s keep all paws crossed and hope this post shows up in the reader.
What’s up with the new eardo you ask? Well, I will tell you all about it later; once we get this thing working again. P.S. Of course, my ears are still in one piece.
This week, we had a mock exam to practice for the real animal therapy exam. I tried my new Sense-ation harness (photo on the right). The jury is still out on whether I will use my Ruffwear front range harness or the new one during the real exam. I always feel proud when I wear the Ruffwear harness. It’s very comfortable and I have worn it since I was first allowed to go on big trips. Besides, the trainer told me that I look smart with the Ruffwear harness. On the other hand, the new harness is supposed to help me be more responsive. To be honest, I did not know that there was a problem. OK, sometimes I am a tad bit enthusiastic. But hey, there are so many fun things to explore in the real world.
For the first part of the exam, I had to stand still to be petted and examined. That was tough, especially when HM made the mistake of dangling a treat in front of me. I thought we could play, but not this time, she said. The exercise “leave it” was easy. All I had to do was walk past a bowl with food, without touching it. Just in case, I was keeping an eye on the food (you would too). The exam also included a part where I was petted by a crowd of people. All I saw were legs and lots of hands reaching down for me. That was a bit confusing; I looked up but could not figure out which hands and legs belonged to who. They need to number those things. In the end, the mock exam was rewarding; I got lots of treats and even applause. Maybe I will bow next time.
I wanted to write a post about St. Francis on St. Francis day (October 4). Obviously, that didn’t happen. Who is St. Francis? Glad you asked. St. Francis lived many dog lives ago, but he is still remembered for his compassion towards animals and nature. I am not sure about you, but I think it should be St. Francis day every day. So, here it is, Happy St. Francis.
Yes, the big animal therapy exam is showing up on the horizon. I only have a couple more weeks to prepare. I take my training very seriously (well there has to be food or something, you don’t work for free either). The photo of me in front of my school shows how serious I can be. I only have one more animal therapy training session and then I should be ready. Yesterday, we learned how to maneuver around wheelchairs, people with walkers, and small children who were running back and forth. I was very interested in the stuffed toys the children brought. At home, I play with stuffed animals and at school, I was told not to. It is a confusing world. Oh yeah, and they throw treats on the floor that you are not supposed to eat. What a waste, wouldn’t you say? But the trainers are saying that it could be a pill on the floor and that would be bad for me. I guess they do have a point.
Last Monday, Andy (A) and Dougy (D), two adorable and at times opinionated but also humorous cats, asked Benji (B) all sorts of questions including tough ones (see The Interview: Part I)*. It was only fair that Benji also got his turn to ask some questions. It took me a couple of days to transcribe the interview (my Catonese is a bit rusty and I am still learning Benjinese), but here it is:
[Andy is ready for the interview]
[Dougy is in charge of the computer]
*P.S.: Andy and Dougy employ Doug, the so-called “human”, to take care of them. This is pretty much a full-time job. In his spare time, Doug writes the blog Weggieboy’s blog. He was the one who set up the interviews. Thanks Doug!
B: I know we live far away from each other, but I am curious to know what you would do when you would meet me on the street.
D: Sniff your butt, of course! Cats do that, too, for the same reason as dogs.
A: Yeah, we like to stick our noses in your business. Hee! Hee!
D: Be nice, Andy!
B: My big sister Ms. Zulu tells me that cats like to scratch dogs on their noses and that it hurts. Would you do that to a doggy like me?
A: We have our claws, but we are mostly pretty mild kitties. We only occasionally scratch, but mostly to mark territory or get our human’s attention
D: Never! And we know you are a kitten so we tolerate a lot more from you than we would a dog.
A: [Brother, they are called “puppies”!]
D: [Oh! Thanks, Andy! I was unaware….]
B: I would love to play with cats, how should I approach them (I like to avoid the nose punctures Ms. Zulu is yapping about)?
D: You don’t want to jump up and down on them, for sure, because you are bigger or as big as us, and it might hurt us. We’ve heard “puppies” (as I understand you are called) sometimes get rambunctious. Kind of like kittens, actually.
A: Aw, I was always the well-mannered one, Dougy. You were the one who always hopped off the examination table at the veterinarian’s so you could snoop around the office….!
D: You wanted to. Admit it!
B: Sounds like you two are quite a handful…
A: No, I am the nice one.
B: Just sayin’… Anyway, although I consider myself a big boy and walk like one, I was only 61/2 weeks old when I went from the shelter to my forever home. How old were you when you were adopted? Were you two crybabies?
A: I was nine weeks old. Dougy came along a week or so later when the lady who had our mother noticed Dougy and I played well together at the veterinarian’s, where we both were recovering from a parasite we picked up eating a grasshopper….! We never cried, though, except when that bulldog puppy made us nervous. Remember that bulldog puppy, Dougy?
D: Yeah, but I was cute when I whimpered! LOL!
A: Well. ornery anyway. Yeah, cute, too. We both were really cute, if I do say so myself!
B: As kitties did you play a lot and how does that compare to now? How old are you two by the way?I can still ask that question right?
A: We used to chase each other. Our favorite toy was a little stuffed mouse. We’d play “keep away”. First, I’d run with it, then Dougy’d take it from me and run with it. We played that way for hours or until we took a nap. We napped a lot, of course. We also liked to chase each other when we didn’t have the mouse. We climbed all over the place, and got yelled out a time or two until we learned that climbing on people hurts them. We may have been little, but we had claws of death already! Hee! Hee! And used them!
D: And how! Of course, now that we are almost five years old (as of next July 1st), we are less active than we were as kittens, but we still like to play with our BirBug toys. (These are wand toys.) We still chase each other for fun, and running through the apartment is one of our favorite activities.
[Dougy on his favorite ottoman playing with the BirBug toy]
B: Wow, already the big five; it will take me ages to get there. Hey, do you have a treat? I always seem to be hungry; can you give me advice on how to solve this problem? A cute face certainly helps, but does not seem to work all the time.
A: Play the cuteness gambit for sure, Benji! No one can ignore that cute face!
D: Yeah, and we throw in purrs and rubbing against their legs to encourage giving us something yummy to eat! I don’t know if dogs do that, too.
[Andy is giving advice]
B: Hmmm, purrs, you have to teach me that. You seem pretty laid-back. Are you just plain lazy or is it a pose to get more treats from your human?
D: It isn’t lazy, it’s conservation of energy. Cats never waste energy. You never know when the next gazelle is coming through, so you don’t want to use all your energy up before you have more food!
A: Dougy’s being silly now, Benji! We don’t have gazelles here in Nebraska! I checked. Just bison, deer, squirrels, birds of various sizes….
Here, Andy’s eyes glazed over as he fantasized about the birds in the fir outside the back window. He and Dougy both love to watch birds!
B: As you know I like food games, do you like them too? Do you have food puzzles? Is there a trick you can teach me to solve them faster? Some food puzzles take way too long to finish and my belly is just protesting. I love belly scratches too. Do you like them?
A: We don’t play food games, though our human does give us kitty treats when we are good boys. (Like after I get my medicine!) I don’t know if we have the patience to solve them. We had a food game once that required too much work to get to the food. I trained the human to knock the game to dislodge the food to where I could get it. Hee! Hee! I don’t think he ever realized I trained him! You need to figure out how to get your human to feel sorry for you and just give you the food, too. That’s your homework assignment for tonight!
B: Good advice Andy, I will try it out tonight!
D: We both like to have our bellies rubbed, but what we like even better is to have that spot between our eyes scratched. It’s hard for us to get, but the human can get right in there!
A: Oh yeah, and we like it when he rubs the side of our mouths.
B: Do you go to the park to play? Do you like to ride in a car? I find them noisy and you can’t look out the window.
A: We are inside cats. I think we would like the grass, but out human grows some for us inside, as well as catnip. He says it’s a matter of safety since we live close to two major roads. We hate flea and tick medicine, so he says we can’t go outside since we won’t cooperate to let him put it on. I think it’s an excuse!
B: Your human is smart; better safe than sorry, and I bet it is better for the birdstoo :). I take lots of naps in my bed. How many naps do you take each day? Where do you sleep; do you sleep in a tree?
D: We both sleep 16-18 hours a day. I like to sleep on an ottoman next to where our human sits to watch television, and Andy likes to sleep on a side table next to the same place. That way we can keep track of him and each other, too!
B: Wow, 16-18 hours; you hardly have time for play. BTW, talking about naps makes me feel tired. I think I am ready to take one right now. Night, night.
A: And don’t let the bedbugs bite!
A: When did you learn to speak “Dog”?
D: Remember? Ms. Zulu spent a few hours with us, trying to get us to speak in “Dog”. All I could get out was “Vuff” because I found the accent hard to get. While you were napping, I practiced saying that till I got it right!!
A: I’m impressed, brother! You never strike me as being that serious!
B: Thanks for the interview Andy and Dougy; you two are funny critters. Now I really need that nap; maybe I will sleep in my new cave and dream of kitties.
This is a photo of my big sister, ain’t she a beauty? The photo was taken in December 2014. Ms. Zulu looks real regal, doesn’t she? She was also adopted from a local animal shelter. That was a long time ago; she is already 10!
On November 3, we adopted a little guy from the local animal shelter and named him Benji as he is the Benjamin of the family. He is quite a character and dreams of being a famous soccer player one day. He will introduce himself soon.
This is the day we took Benji home from the animal shelter. He was about 6.5 weeks old and had been dropped off at the animal shelter three days prior with his five littermates. His date of birth was estimated to be September 18, 2015. He is a cute little guy. We started the blog Life of Benji in October 2016, but have backdated the posts so you can follow Benji from when he was a tiny pup. Happy Tails!