Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye Old! Hello New!

Behold I bring you tidings of great joy – the long-awaited, end-of-the year brag sheet.

After much internal strife over whether to produce our annual calendar, M&D opted to take a year off. This was an extremely tough decision because we know how much everyone loves them. However, there are only so many hours in a day and we've been quite busy.

You're probably thinking, "Those poor dogs finally got a break from having to wear all those ridiculous outfits!" Unfortunately not. In reality, since Roger and I have become certified pet therapists through Therapy Dog International (TDI), we probably have been dressed in costumes more during the past couple of months than if we would have had to pose for a year's worth of calendar photos.

The year started off a little "ruff" with the death of Pappy John in February. As personal witnesses to the joy that our visits brought him, M&D decided that Roger and I could make other end-of-life patients happy by visiting them, too. Last month, we became approved volunteers with Celtic Hospice and Home Health with official photo ID badges and everything. Roger’s first sanctioned visit as a representative from Celtic was to a local nursing facility on Veterans’ Day. Always trying to get a little leg up on me, Rog showed up for the event in typical Frenchie fashion wearing his Sgt. K-9 uniform and driving a blasted tank! He certainly turned quite a few heads as he rumbled through the halls handing out American flags and thanking veterans for their service.

Roger rumbles through Lewis Katz Hall

Our Dog Scout Troop once again participated in the Wreaths Across America project to honor our nation’s veterans by selling wreaths and placing them on gravesites of soldiers across the country. In addition to honoring a vet with a wreath, our troop receives $5 for every wreath sold. This year we raised almost $800 which will be donated to the Susquehanna Service Dogs with the stipulation that it be used for a service dog for a veteran. SSD is one of only a few service dog organizations that trains dogs for people with brain injuries and PTSD like many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have.

Arlington National Cemetery

Roger and I also are participating in an after school kids' reading program at the local YWCA. We just show up and the kids read to us for an hour. My favorite book is "Hop on Pop." Roger likes "Green Eggs and Ham" probably because he gets to explain to the kids all about his allergies to beef, liver, and venison – but not ham. Except for having to wear the outlandish costumes, therapy dog work is a lot of fun, plus it keeps us off the streets.

Thelma Lou hasn't had the opportunity to take the TDI therapy dog test so she can't participate in either of these programs. She did recently pass her Dog Scout test with flying colors and is registered to take the TDI exam early in 2015 so we are hopeful that she will be able to join us soon. Thelma’s service work did include helping to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. She really wowed the patrons at Keck’s Store and Archery by collecting dollar bills with her mouth while store owner Tammy Hammond and future heir of the Keck Dynasty Hennessey Strine rang the bell.

Thelma Lou & Hennessy with their Red Kettle

M&D insist on us participating in at least one extracurricular activity whether it involves community service, athletics, or the arts. Thelma Lou chose to register for an introductory nose work/scent detection class at Good Dog Rising. While a bloodhound she is not, I will hold judgment on her choice of sport since she can, I am ashamed to admit, lap me in a swimming pool.

Thelma Lou doing her morning laps

Roger and I spent five fun-filled days at Blue Ridge Mini Camp hosted by Dog Scout Troop 161 in Western Maryland last August. I earned my All Dog Band merit badge for learning how to play a banjo, and Roger earned his hiking merit badge for completing 6 miles of off-leash hiking. We also have both logged enough hours to earn our Service I and Therapy Dog I merit badges.

Dog tired at Dog Scout Camp

We spent three glorious weeks in the Outer Barks, NC. We kicked off summer with family and friends during the last week of May, and of course, we ended it with my birthday blowout during our traditional two week stay in September. Well, that’s 2014 in a nutshell. Wishing you health, wealth, and happiness in the coming year!

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