I first heard about Bosley Beckmann through a recent innerview-ee, his grrlfren Bella Hendricks. Bosley’s 9, a Standard Poo, anna highly educated, experienced Therapy Pooch, so I thought he might be, you know, a liddle serious an uh-LOOF. But he wasn’t. He was frenly an in-spuh-RAY-shu-null!
He’s long-leggedy, with that Standard Poo racehorse prance; his curly coat is gray, short ’cept for fluffy ears, topknot (which my Assistant couldn’t stop pattin’) an pom-pom tail, an his brown eyes are kind an frenly. He reminds me of that human who usta be on TV, who always wore a swedder an sneakers.
Bosley trotted up for the Wag-an-Sniff. “A pleasure, Bonz. (May I call you Bonz?) You can call me Bos.”
He innerduced his Mom an Dad, Mary an Dale, we got conf-tubble in the living room, an Bosley graciously accepted a duh-li-shus turkey-an-sweet puh-tay-do treat from my assistant’s satchel.
“So, Bos, I know you’ve been a therapy pooch for years. How’d that all come about?”
“We’re from Colorado,” he began. “Mom an Dad have been volunteers for years, always tryin’ to find meaningful ways to help their Fellow Humans. They decided to help veterans who had gone through terrible, awful experiences an can’t stop thinkin’ bout ’em; what humans call PTSD. They did REE-search an decided to work with Pet Partners.”
“What’s Pet Partners?”
“It’s a program that’s been around for 280 dog years. It uses all kinds of animals, dogs, horses, llamas, guinea pigs, regular pigs, an others, to help humans in lotsa sit-choo-WAY-shuns: veterans, older peeple, kids havin’ trouble in school, peeple in hoss-piddles, peeple in duh-ZASS-ters.”
“Woof! Pigs? Llamas? Who knew? How’d you get involved?”
“Mom an Dad started lookin’ for a dog for Dad to train with, to become a Therapy Animal Team. My human sister Liesel worked at an animal shelter an suggested a pure-bred Poo cuz (not to brag) we’re Very Smart, calm an don’t make humans sneeze or break out. Meanwhile, I was about a year old; I’d been sold, but my owners couldn’t take care of me, so I got returned an taken to a Poo Rescue. Mom an Dad saw my pick-shur online an came to meet me. While they waited, they were sittin’ onna bench pattin’ a quiet Poo named Chewbacca. I was runnin’ around in circles like a nutball, an they were thinkin’ ‘We hope that cuckoo pooch isn’t the one we’re waitin’ for.’
“I know, right? Well, soon as I saw them, I knew (like us pooches do) they were my Forever Famly. I zoomed over an put my head on Dad’s lap to ask, ‘Is this OK, Dad?’ an to show him I could be calm. We’ve been together ever since.
“In Colorado, we lived in the mountains. Me an my 9-pooch posse had 6 acres to run in. There were bears, deer, bobcats, rabbits, coyotes. It was pawsome.”
“Um … bears?”
Bosley laughed. “There was enough room for everybody. Me an Dad started training right away. Liesel was a big help cuz she knew a LOTTA dog stuff. An I learned real fast. I learned tons of human words. NO was one of the first ones: You know how temptin’ it is to pick yummy-lookin’ stuff off the floor?”
“Oh, yeah!” I was remembering a muffin.
“Well, we visit hos-pittles, retirement homes, nursing homes, places with medicine an stuff, so eatin’ something off the floor can be dangerous an, unlike cats, us pooches only have one shot. First time I tried it, Dad hollered NO! so loud I jumped. An learned that NO means NO! I moped, but I got over it.”
“I expect the training is pretty tough.”
“You’re not woofin’! Not everybuddy makes it through. We hafta FOCUS: We hafta be calm an social around humans an animals. We hafta be cool with loud noises an sudden movements (that’s called distraction-proofing). An, we hafta get re-certified every year. Me an Dad are a registered Animal Assisted Therapy team.”
I was VERY impressed. “What kinda stuff do you do?”
“After we got certified, we worked for five years comforting patients at three hos-pittles. After we moved here, we worked at one hospital and one nursing home. Last Christmas, me an Dad volunteered with the Salvation Army. I wore my Christmas scarf, an we had this big red kettle. Dad rang a bell and I stood by looking frenly an charming. I totally loved meeting hundreds of new human frens who stopped to pat me, an plunk donations into our kettle. (I brought in twice as much as Dad. Just sayin’.)”
“That is So Crispy Dog Biscuits!”
“Since our new home is here on the coast where you get hurry-canes,” he continued, “Dad thought we could comfort peeple if a hurry-cane disaster happened. So we took FEMA courses an qualified as an official FEMA Animal Assisted Crisis Response Team. Now we have cruh-DEN-shulls to help with disaster relief.”
Bosley showed me his work uniforms and an array of photo ID cards. One was from the Angel Paws Therapy Dog Program; he was wearing a tie anna blue scrubs hat. Seriously Pawsome.
“When you’re off duty, what do you like to do? Any pooch pals? Favrite foodstuffs?”
“I liked goin’ out in our boat. But not swimmin’. Drivin’ back an forth from Colorado, we’d always stop at In-N-Out Burger where they have special burgers for dogs. Duh-lish! I get at least 3 walks a day. I enjoygoin’ to Paw Prints with Bella. My Colorado BFF is Ruger, a Jack Russell. Here, my human BFF is Uncle Jim. He’s way fun. I’m not into snacks though, ’cept hot dogs an string cheese, which I only get when I’m in training. Humans call it Positive Reinforcement. I call it YUMMY! I’m pretty fussy about my meals. My dinner is chicken breast with brown rice an green beans, an I like to maintain a Schedule.”
Heading home, I was mulling over the amazin’ commitment Bosley has to Helping Others. Whatta pooch. An I Googled FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Till next time,