Woofing with you Pawsome Pooches always broadens my Canine Horizons. This week, for egg-zample, I went back to school (sort of) to meet Giulia Smith.
Giulia is an almost-3-years-old black Golden Retriever/Labrador working full-time as Official Therapy Dog for St. Edward’s School.
Giulia an her mom were waiting on the sidewalk. Giulia was onna leash, wearin’ a pretty blue-an-pink unicorn collar and a Super Cool Kibbles blue-an-red Therapy Dog vest with an Official St. Ed’s ID badge on it. She rose for the Wag-an-Sniff as we approached.
“Good afternoon! I’m Giulia Smith an this is my Mom an co-worker Morgan. My human big sister Charlotte’s at SCHOOL. We call her Char, she’s almost 5. My pooch big brother Teddy’s at home. He’s an English Lab. MUCH bigger than me. So, let’s go to our office. I’m pretty excited cuz you’re my very first innerview.”
We followed Giulia an her mom toward big glass double doors. On the wall was one of those round door-opener buttons. Giulia walked up, stood on her back legs and pushed the button with her nose! Wah-La!
“Woof! That was Cool Kibbles!”
“Thank you. Noses aren’t just for sniffin’, ya know.”
On the way to her office, Giulia pawsed in a sorta lobby with a big por-trut onna EE-zull; a whole buncha smaller pickshurs on the wall; an another EE-zull with a co-LAHGE of all the small pickshurs. (Sorta reminded me of that tomato soup can ardist.) They were all of GIULIA!
“Aren’t they Crispy Biscuits? They’re all by my fifth- and sixth-grader frens!”
We got settled in the office. I opened my notebook, which Miss Giulia friffled with her nose.
“So tell me how you found your Forever Famly.”
“Me an my litter (13 of us, some golden, some black) were born in Calla-FOR-nee-uh, which is as far as you can go that way (she pointed) without fallin’ into the o-shun. We were part of a Very Big Program called Canine Companions for Independence, which trains pooches to help humans in a buncha different ways. Mom was one of the humans who raised us till we could start Advanced Training.
“I flew onna plane to Orlando an Mom picked me up. I’m her third CCI pooch. Right away I started going to St. Edward’s an other pooch-frenly places so I’d get use to different places, humans, noises, stuff like that. I was only s’pose to stay with Mom an Char till I was 18 months old but, cuzza that duh-ZEEZE that gronked everything up, I stayed a couple more months. Then I was transfurred to the Regional CCI campus in Orlando for ad-VANCED training.
“WELL, that was s’pose to be Goodbye Forever to Mom an Char an Teddy cuz, when I passed that training, I’d be partnered with my Forever Human. We were SO sad! After all, me an Char grew up together. I knew I had an Important Purpose but it didn’t make me feel any better. The school sent Mom report cards regularly, an I did my best, an tried not to go all Sad Puppy, but I missed my FAM-ly. I stuck it out to the point where I was paired with a possible Furever Human an we were doing classes together.
“THEN, two days before Char’s 4th birthday, Mom got a call from my school. They said I was really struggling (I guess they could tell how sad I was) an perhaps I should consider another career path. THEN, they asked Mom if she’d like me back: Bein’ a CCI puppy raiser, she got first dibs. It was, like humans say, a No Brainer.
“So I came home to what had been my Furever Famly all along. Mom didn’t tell Char, so I could be a birthday suh-prize. On birthday morning, I hid in her bedroom an closed the door.
Then, when she was all dressed up in her pink tutu and birthday hat an stuff, Mom showed her a big poster with ‘Happy Birthday, Charlotte!’ on it, an told Char to go check out her room.
When she opened the door, THERE I WAS!! I zoomed into her arms. She couldn’t buh-LEEVE it at first. I was SO happy!”
“Woof! What a happy ending.”
“It WAS! PLUS, I’m still a therapy dog. My category is Facility Dog, an THIS is the perfect facility. I LOVE it: I get to hang out with the liddle Lower School kids, an the big Upper School kids. Best. Job. EVER. We have an Open Doghouse Policy, so the kids can drop in to say HI any time. I like visitin’ the music class: I sometimes sing along. I have my AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate, an I hafta have continuing education, take tests, get checked out, get uh-VALUE-ated an stuff.”
“What’s your life like off work?”
“I LOVE Fetch. I can catch a ball in MID-AIR! Me an Teddy do a lotta runnin’ around. My fav stuffy’s my blue-an-pink dragon. I have some pooch pals from school: Tolly, an Peggy, my step-sister. An my BFF, Jeneva, we matriculated at CCI together. Then there’s Roxie, a mixture; an Milo, a chi-weenee.
“My paws-down fave food is frozen peanut butter inna Kong. An I love bubble baths! Teddy says I snore, but I’m not so sure. I’ve never heard me snore.
“Oh, an lemme show you some of my skills: They AREN’T tricks. They are important skills we develop for helping humans.”
Giulia was a-MAZ-ing: She did ‘lap’; ‘hugs’; ‘heel’; picked up her leash when her Mom dropped the end. “I can close a drawer; open the fridge, get a boddle of water and close the door. An lots more.”
Heading home, I was tryin to pick-shur our fridge door handle. It’d be kinda cool to get my own snacks. On the other hand, maybe not the best idea. Anyhow, Gramma an Grampa always give me my lovely evening dish of yoghurt, an I’m perfectly content with that.
Till next time,