Pet Tips 'n' Tales©

Dog Wreaks Havoc at Wedding

Photos by Charlie's pet parents©
Announcing Charlie's newest accomplishment! Ambassador of smiles
for hospitals and retirement homes as a PAAWS therapy dog. 
Charlie is best known, and photographed, for wreaking havoc at a lakeside wedding!

TALES
 
Congratulations to 3-year-old Charlie, he is one of two therapy dogs in town!  A year ago, Kim and Charlie passed the AKC obedience training and he earned the K-9 Good Citizen award.

Kim works at Riverbend Hospital.  "I've seen therapy teams of people and their pets come into the hospital and know what a difference they make to the patients.  The furry ambassadors' visits give patients something different to focus on, talk about, and laugh about rather than hours of emptiness.
 
I thought that if I trained with Charlie we could spend quality time together, meet new people, have fun, and make hearts smile," said Kim.  "Charlie is friendly with everyone, I knew he would excel, so we enrolled in therapy dog training."

Charlie has the required skills: happy tail wags, doggy grins, and understanding big brown eyes.  He was born to comfort patients in hospitals and nursing facilities.

Charlie, aka Charlie Brown, a yellow Lab, is the largest of Kim's and Jay's dogs. Charlie weighs 105 pounds!  Their other dogs, Lucy and Schroeder, also named after characters in the Charlie Brown comic strip,  are homebodies and therefore do not engage in work outside the home.
 
photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Family portrait of Kim, Jay, Charlie Brown, Schroeder, and Lucy.
 
Kim and Charlie trained with PAAWS (People and Animals Who Serve), an affiliate of the Delta Society  www.peopleandanimalswhoserve.org;   www.DeltaSociety.org.

"Delta Society trains and evaluates people and their pets to participate in therapy visits," said Bill Kueser of Delta Society.  "Once a team passes an evaluation, they are registered as Pet Partners."

Charlie "lives to give!" and enjoys visiting everyone!

When visiting intensive care waiting rooms he insists on going up to every person!" laughs Kim.  "His gentle soul, unconditional love, and happy attitude makes patients and their families smile.  He makes them forget, for a short time, what they are going through, gives them a moment of happiness, and he helps them recall memories of their pets." 

Residents at Middlefield Oaks Senior Living Community are equally happy to see Charlie.  They enjoy hugging him and sharing their stories.  Charlie is generous with his kisses.

"Charlie instinctually knows which people need his bear hugs the most.  One lady couldn't get enough of him.  She kept putting her face right up to his for his kisses.  She said, 'I like to give kisses too. He likes me.  I have a new friend.'

On our way out, at the end of our visit,  two ladies 'ran' after us, "Can we pet your dog?"   It is rewarding to know that we made so many people happy.  Charlie's never-stops-wagging tail always has people laughing.  His tail is almost bionic!
 
Christmas 2010, Charlie wore bells and his reindeer antlers to a party of thirty dogs at the hospital.  He was a big hit and even made an appearance on the 6 o'clock TV news! The next day, we noticed he wasn't wagging his tail and it hung strangely.  We took him to the vet.  The vet said, "Charlie's tail is hyper-extended from wagging it too much at the party!" Apparently, this condition is common in joyful labs!

Last Easter, Charlie visited the hospital wearing bunny ears.  Because he is a yellow Lab, I called him, "My 'Easter Labbit'" laughs Kim. "What a trooper! He kept the ears on for the entire visit! Nurses scattered rushing for their cell phones to take his photo. He made both the nurses and patients smile making our visit successful.
Photos by Charlie's pet parents©
 
One Halloween, we sprayed Charlie's beige coat with black dots, and he wore a bright red fire helmet to disguise him as a Dalmatian Fire dog!"
Photos by Charlie's pet parents©
 
This past summer, Charlie had the honor of being asked to be the "flower dog" in Kim's and Jay's daughter, Sarah's, wedding.  "For months I worked with Charlie so he could carry a basket in his mouth for the flowers," explains Kim.

"After much practice he willingly held the basket in his mouth for quite a distance.  I was thrilled to know that he would do well in the ceremony.
Photos by Charlie's pet parents©
 
I might have been a tad over confident!  My job was to be in charge of Charlie as Jay was preparing to walk our daughter down the aisle. Jay was also going to play the guitar and sing during the ceremony. 

Moments before the ceremony, held beside Lake Tahoe, I hung two flower baskets onto Charlie's vest and we walked to take our places.
Photos by Charlie's pet parents©
Kim, Charlie, and Devon prepare to walk down the aisle.
 
That's when Charlie spotted the LAKE! Oops, his focus changed.

Being a Lab, all he wanted was to get into the lake!  I struggled to keep him on task, but his water-dog genes took hold. He bolted, running headstrong towards that refreshing clear-blue water. Throwing decorum aside, I ran after him screaming, "No! Charlie! NO!" 

As he ran, flowers scattered.  When he reached the water he stopped and turned and looked at me. His ecstatic expression read, "Look Mom! Look what I found! Come on in!" remembers Kim.

Charlie performed his flower-dog duty wearing empty baskets while a four year old ringbearer trotted along behind him.

"Recently, Charlie underwent hip replacement surgery for hip dysplasia," said Jay. "After getting the vet's bill, we tease Charlie that he is worth his weight in gold!  His recovery was remarkable and he has been on hiatus from dog therapy.  Kim is anxious to get back to it as soon as Charlie's veterinarian gives him two thumbs or two paws up."

(Note: Jay performs at the Village Green on Sundays and Wednesdays.)


TIPS

Adopt a dog.  Dogs offer a 'free' exercise program and bring humor into your home.  The humane shelter is full of "Charlies" waiting to brighten your life!
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