Saturday, July 13, 2013

Visting Freedom Nursing Home!

AC Stephanie set up our meeting today at Freedom Square Nursing Home. This meeting was especially good as Coach had not yet had a nursing home visit and needed to check that box off on his IFT form! 8-)

Assistant AC Bill and his black lab Charity led the obedience portion of the meeting.
We met out front in the Wells Fargo parking lot and started with some basic obedience.

Here we are all lined up.  Coach is facing the wrong way.
 Assistant AC Bill led the obedience portion of the meeting and gave us some tips on why hand signals are useful to know, for example, those times when it is loud and your pup may not hear you, hand signals can let them know what you want them to do.

Black lab Ava is paying attention.
Then Nicole, who works at Freedom Square, told us what to expect from our visit.  She explained that we would be visiting with a group of seniors in a large meeting room first.  Then we would go to the dementia ward to visit those seniors.  Afterwards, as we had time, we could greet residents in their rooms on the way out.

Nursing homes are especially good exposures because of several key elements that they contain:

  • Number one is the elderly! Having exposure with the elderly is important for a guide dog puppy in training.  Not only can they have a different smell, but sometimes they can have lots of crumbs on them (if they are in a nursing home).  It's important for the puppy NOT to vacuum the residents.  Also, some of the residents can be very vocal, and not with words.  For instance, Mildred, who used to be a singer, wanted to go to the front door, but wasn't allowed to do that.  So, she started belting out different octaves/chords/notes to express her displeasure.  Man, this lady could sing.  That's something that could really startle a dog.  Our pups took it all in stride.
  • Wheelchairs: They can be scary.  Our pups were just fine around them and we had some young puppies with us too!
  • Walkers (the metal kind, not the humans 8-):  Walkers can be dropped, creating a clatter.  It's good to have your pups see one and be around one, just in case.  Plus, some residents put tennis balls on the feet of the walkers.  That can be a big distraction.
  • Smells: Nursing homes can have a different smell. Freedom Square didn't have one that I could detect, but our dogs probably could.  You have lots of elderly patients, there for different medical reasons.  You may have medicinal smells, disinfectant smells, cafeteria smells.  It's a good exposure for them.
Stephanie explains our Southeastern puppy program to the seniors.
When we arrived at the meeting room, Stephanie gave the residents a small introduction about the puppy program.

Yellow lab Liberty with her coat on waiting for the meet and greet.
Then we all dispersed around the room for the meet and greet.  The first question to ask was, "Do you like dogs?" If you got a yes for that, then you brought your puppy closer for petting.

Here we see four green-shirted raisers with puppies and the residents.
It went really well.  Everyone seemed to have a lovely time.

Liberty and raiser Karen with the one lone male resident at the meeting.

Melisa and black lab Pauline greet a resident and one of the helpers.
Everyone worked very hard to make sure that the residents met several of the puppies.

These two ladies really liked dogs.  Here they are with Pauline,
who is trying to give one of them a kiss.
When it was announced that one of the puppies was turning a year old tomorrow, this lovely resident started clapping and saying happy birthday.  She was so happy.  I really liked her joyous spirit.
This lady was very positive.

Ava stares into the camera.
These two ladies watched and waited for their turn with the puppies.

These two ladies were very patiently waiting for their turn with the puppies.

Finally a puppy appears!

In the end, everyone got to pet at least one puppy, if not two!  And they all clapped for us.

Photo of some of the residents clapping.
That doesn't often happen, so I thought it was worth documenting!  Then we made our way to the dementia ward.  This ward was a little different from the meeting area.

Lois and black lab Charity greet a female resident.

Fred explains what the coat means to a female resident as Coach looks on.

Nancy and Ava talk with another resident.

Everyone did there best to visit with the residents who did like dogs.  There were a few who did not like them, or who had just washed their hands, or who were sleeping.  It's a mixed bag on the dementia ward, but it is still a valuable exercise.  For those who do like dogs, it is so meaningful to be able to pet a dog again.

Lois and Charity chat with one of the male residents.
Charity is getting a walker exposure.

This man was super excited about having the dogs visit.
Liberty was very sweet and not bothered by the wheelchair.
In the end, we had to go.  We had lots of fun and the dogs had some wonderful experiences and exposures at Freedom Square!  Thank you Nicole for letting us visit and tell all the residents that we loved our visit!!

Photo of the whole group outside of the Freedom Square sign.

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