I’m so chill!

OLIVER ON FRONT DECKOn the job, people say, “Is he always this chill?”

I’m a such a good boy when we work as a therapy team that I fool most people. I lie down and let people pet me. That’s my job. Who wouldn’t love it?  After 150-200 children, pilots, TSA agents, and random parents pet me, I stretch out on the tile floor at the MAC airport and enjoy the feeling. Today, a man said to me, “If I didn’t have a corporate job, I’d have a hairdo just like yours.” A girl admired my peach-colored hair band and blue scarf, telling me I was “power clashing.” I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I knew she loved me. cause she gave me a love-look, her eyes all big, and her mouth all smiley. When I get sick of being adorable, I stand up and turn my tail to the crowd. Some people wonder if I’m shy or if they’ve done something wrong. They can’t read my signs the way you can. You know I’m telling you it’s time to go home.

People show me their cell-phone photos. “Our dog is a Yorkie named Tarzan. We wanted to give him a big dog name.” I don’t think that dog would make it in the jungle, but he makes her happy so the name works. On our way down to parking, a vendor says, “A lot of dogs walk by and I don’t even care, but Oliver, now HE’S a dog I could get behind!”

I’m careful not to ruin everyone’s impression of me. We work to relieve stress and bring joy. If I were home, I’d jump up three feet and make it clear how I feel. It might scare some people. In public, I restrain myself. When I get home, I steal your best shoes, hide your mittens, throw up on the rug, counter-surf for a snack. But, on the job, I am so chill.

Oliver’s Advice: It’s okay to show your good side in public. People don’t have to know everything.




I have several jobs. My morning job is to bring in the newspaper. After Dad takes me on my first walk of the day, I gobble down my breakfast and tear upstairs. You are already having your coffee. I look longingly at you and you remember it’s time to open the front door and let me sniff the air again. I stand on the porch and smell the day. I find the paper wrapped in green plastic. I pick it up with my teeth and you hold the door for me and race me to the kitchen. If I arrive with the paper intact, I get a treat. If it is torn, sometimes I don’t get a treat. You say Good boy!and give me one of my tiny little pretend-bone treats.

My next job is the mail. Sometime before noon, Tim brings the mail. I hear his car and give you my “let me out” look. I wait at the gate. When Tim sees me, I jump as high as I can jump. I am extraordinary. Tim reaches in his mail pouch and finds my special treats. He hands you the mail and gives me a few treats. He loves me and calls me by name. I know how to work it. You pick out one special piece of mail, hand it to me, and we race to the kitchen again. If the mail is intact, I get a treat. If it’s wrinkled, I usually get a treat anyway. That’s because I keep trying to do better.

That makes four treats for the day so far, and it’s only morning.

Usually, you and I will go for another long walk during the day. You give me treats if I behave. That does not include skateboards or rollerblades. I cannot behave for them. They turn me into a very bad dog, one I don’t even recognize. I return to my primal state, a dog like my predogcessors and my antedogcents…it’s between me and the wheels. I want them to stop making the terrible noise that hurts my delicate ears. I would kill if I could.

My next job is to remind you to feed me when my dinner alarm goes off. It happens between 1:30 and 3:00 pm. It is a loud empty feeling under my ribs. It moves up to my mouth and I begin to salivate. If you aren’t home, I have to wait, but if you are home, I run to you and sit in front of you and look my best. Instead of a treat, I get dinner.

You need a lot of reminders such as the fact that I’m always up for a walk. If there’s nothing to do, I steal one of your shoes and prance around the house. You offer me a treat when I bring it to you. When nice people come to the house, you pay more attention to them than to me so I steal anything of theirs I can find– gloves, shoes, and scarves. If they put all their belongings in the closet, I take the nicest pillow in our house and prance around with that. I still get a treat if I drop it at your feet. I love this game because I am quick, sneaky and funny and I always get a treat.

Unless we have a therapy team gig, I am free for the day. I roll around, perch on the window seat, listen to you play the piano and patrol the surroundings. I do have to let you know if there are people or dogs approaching. My warnings are a low woof, a loud bark, or a rapid succession of barks, depending on the proximity and familiarity of the interloper. (I don’t think I have to remind you I have a big vocabulary because you already know that.)

Next time, readers, I’ll explain my work as a therapy dog. I have a license and  degree. When you read about what I do, you’re going to want my job, but that’s okay with me. There’s room for all of us. People need a lot of therapy.

Advice from Oliver: If you do your job, you might get at least four treats per day. It depends on how smart you are. I am very smart.




I also have many, many four-footed fans.

I will name some of them: Issy,  a little Wheaten Terrier who had me for a sleepover in Venice Beach and still claims I have marvelous manners even after I lifted my leg on her bed (see below: she’s quite comfortable with me); Britt (the dark little lass, also below) who chased me around a snowy park in Denver; Mac, a Beardie who people think is my big brother; Nina, my first kiss; Patches, my very brave kitty friend; Richie, Stevie, Princess, Sally, Kurry, Prince Myshkin, Sally, Daisy (2 of them), Finnegan, Mattie, Iris, Duncan, Bianca, Mercury, Joe Meower, Max. The list goes on. Please subscribe if you want special mention. It’s hard to keep up with my expanding fan base.


I am in love with life and hope you feel the same way, at least some of the time. It is true I snatched a roast right off the counter yesterday. I can be sneaky, and lightning-fast, but I accidentally made a  slurping sound which you heard. I left the carrots and onions and potatoes. Just took the aromatic roast.  You snatched it from my hungry jaws, washed it off, cut off the bite marks, and that was the end of my negative consequences. You were not in love with me at that moment and put me in my kennel for some brief, quiet time.

Advice from Oliver: Love takes many forms.




In California, we live in a very small house with a tiny little old-fashioned furnace attached to the wall. The furnace makes terrible clanging noises. Clang-clang! I shiver and shake and run to your side of the bed. One night, you wrapped me in a big towel and lifted me up into bed with you. I could still hear the bang-clanging, but it felt better to be close to you where I could hear your heart-beat. Two heart-beats are better than one. That’s why Valentine’s Day is important. Most animals want more than one heart-beat to hear. If they don’t have a heart, heaven helps them find another way to love.

I am also a little bit afraid of the rain. Lightning might follow. I am great-big afraid of lightning. It is very loud. Since I was born to take care of you, you must take care of me too. If lightning sounds loud to you, remember it’s almost three times louder to me. And fireworks? Oh, dog. I have a lot of work to do to keep track of all the noises that could harm you.

Working so hard makes me tired. I sleep a lot so I can be ready to keep us safe.

Thank you for finding another way to make it warm inside our little California house. You shut off the furnace and found big towers of heat to plug into the wall. I am a happier dog. When we came home to Minnesota, there was a lot of noise one night after people jumped into the icy lake for something called the Polar Plunge…FIREWORKS!! We ran home and I hid in the back of my kennel. You turned on Chopin and then Bach—loud. Thank you for protecting me. I try to protect you too.

Oliver’s Advice: Take care of each other. We are all afraid of something and must protect those we love from harm—real or imagined.