I’VE BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK

Hello, all you therapy team (and other) fans. I am in my seventh year of being part of a therapy team with my mom. You might say I am experienced and wise. I am too modest to say it outright. When we walk around, we get a lot of attention. People say we are beautiful. I take it in my stride. Biscuit hasn’t quite learned the art of being cool yet.

I am clearly in charge. Biscuit is my apprentice.

If you look closely in the photos above, I am the one with the stick. I am teaching Biscuit patience. We are wearing our blaze orange coats so hunters don’t mistake us for white-tailed deer. Some hunters are very stupid if they can’t tell us from deer, but oh, well. We just want to be safe and free in the woods.

Mom and I have now been back on the job for a few months. I have not had a COVID vaccine, but Mom has had three. Biscuit stays home when I put on my special leash and scarf, because Biscuit doesn’t know all my moves yet. He loves me a lot and I love him too, but it’s hard to have a conversation with Mom when he’s around because he jumps on her and sticks his face all up in hers while I sit quietly by and watch. I am quite mature as dogs go.

Going back to work has been doglicious. We go to the airport, once a month on Friday mornings, which is hard on my ears but exciting. I know how to carry myself on the elevator. I am quiet and calm. Sometimes, people roll big, bangy suitcases right up next to me as if I’m not there. I hold my head up high and look straight ahead to indicate I know where we’re going. The truth is I can’t push the elevator buttons, so I wait until someone else does. Dad comes with us and he really does know where we’re going so he does the important things like carrying my equipment and checking us through. He also finds where we parked, a very important skill.

I like children best. They tell me how much they love me. They smell wet. They tell us about the dogs they left at home. A lot of big people walk right past us as I lie in front of the tall banner that says, “Pet me.” How rude. I ignore them. Not everyone appreciates what petting me does for them. It helps their tickers. It balances their hormones (and we all know how important balanced hormones are). It improves their tacticity (that is their ability to feel things with their hands, especially my long, well-groomed hair). They hurry off to their airplanes with a little dog-spring in their steps.

We also go to the University of Minnesota to be petted by students and staff in the PAWS program. We like Carlson School of Management. Everyone is learning how to manage things. They manage me by petting me into oblivion. They tell me I’m chill. Around them, I am amazing. The PAWS program has cats, chickens, llamas, rabbits and dogs to pet. I love the smell of chickens. If you didn’t hold my leash, I would advance quickly toward the  basket where a beautiful chicken perches and preens. Her name is Tilly, a diminutive for Attila the Hen. My diminutive is Ollie. Did you forget I have a very large vocabulary? (Just saying.) Tillie and Tanya are besties, but Tilly and I might get along too if anyone would give us a chance. Interspecies inspection is discouraged, so I accept that. I can’t play on the job with other therapy animals either. I’ve gotten used to it, but I’m glad I have Biscuit.

When I go home to Biscuit, I am not chill. I am reduced to a ridiculous, flying whirl of fur. Dog! Do we have fun! I explain to Biscuit about going around the block. I have already taught him how to lift his leg, how to pick up and eat sticks and how to sniff around every ridge and furrow of every tree. Those ridges and furrows are called tree rhytidome. I have tried to teach Biscuit that word, but he’s still stuck in the sniffing stage where other dogs have lifted their legs and left their scent. Biscuit is an excellent sniffer and sampler. He likes to sample the way things taste. You call him the sanitary engineer because he licks in places he believes need cleaning up. I say Yog! (my word for Yuk!) I am a patient teacher, so I will wait for him to catch up on all my sophisticated means of communication until he’s a little older. It’s hard to learn if you’re not ready. 

Advice from Oliver: When you’ve been around the block, it isn’t polite to let everyone know. 

7 thoughts on “I’VE BEEN AROUND THE BLOCK

  1. Dear Oliver,
    You are doing marvelous work! Congrats. You are always quite the big brother. We hope to see you sometime soon because we LOVE your parents, who have obviously raised you well. Oxoxox Diane

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  2. Oliver, once again you make me laugh and smile and wonder where all your marvelous ideas come from. I would encourage you to send the MSP part of your blog to Laura and Sara at the Foundation. They will find a way to get it on their social media. It is so cure and true and inspirational.

    Perhaps we can get you to write a column for NSTA about going back to visiting? We would love the focus to be on you (sorry Biscuit). But perhaps we can have you include Biscuit once he starts taking a therapy dog class.

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  3. You do wonderful work, Oliver, and Biscuit is lucky to have you as his mentor. Maybe you both can come play some time,

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  4. Keep up the good work Oliver, Biscuit will get there. He does challenge you. and Mom sees your patience. She is proud of you.

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  5. Biscuit seems to be a fast learner…albeit playful. Good buddy apprentice to have along for the ride into therapy land.

    Sent from my iPad

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  6. Oliver: Nice to hear your “voice.” Tell your mom that now that we’re 80 years old, verifiable elders, I hope she and Eddie are feeling well and having fun. As the earth turns, we should have lunch one of these days. s

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