SARA AND SHANNON
MAKE A PIPER SANDWICH
"At the age of 11 weeks, Piper seems to be responding in a way that says she knows she’s here to love. Just love."
“Oh. My. God.”
“I’m so stealing her!”
These are usually the words Piper and I hear when we meet new friends. And it was no different when we went into the Colonial Retirement Residence in Whitby, Ontario for Piper’s first official visit as a not-yet-official therapy dog.
She was immediately scooped up by staff members, Sara and Shannon and smothered in kisses before Sara turned and asked, “Oh! Is this okay?”
“It’s why she’s here.”
Piper was placed on the floor, and with little tail wagging, wearing her Happy Girl face (just as Misty used to do), she wound in and about the ladies who’d gathered ‘round. At the age of 11 weeks, Piper seems to be responding in a way that says she knows she’s here to love. Just love.
Of course, as an enthusiastic 11 week old puppy, Piper tries to greet humans as she would a dog: by standing on her rear legs. I move in for the correction immediately. “Sit, Piper.” Piper has to have “four on the floor” before she can be rewarded with the affection waiting to be showered on her. Piper’s butt hits the floor and I notice that before we leave for the day, she’s automatically sitting when someone approaches. That computer between her ears is downloading all these cues.
“Can you take her over to the lady in that chair?”
I looked up and saw a woman with a huge smile watching us. Piper and I walked over and met the woman in the chair. Jean. Her arms stretched down to her wriggling visitor.
“Would you like to hold her on your lap?”
Jean was very pleased to hold this happy puppy. I lifted Piper carefully onto Jean’s lap, ensuring her paws didn’t catch on the skin of Jean’s arms. (I’ll be taking Piper into our groomer to get her nails trimmed and filed smooth after she has her next vaccination.)
As Sara took us on a tour, Piper was not fussed as we saw and moved around walkers, canes and wheelchairs or when we rode up and down in the elevator.
But then, as we stood by the elevator, the doors opened and out came a large, metal trolley for snacks. Piper froze, then swerved and tried to run. She was frightened. A perfect teaching moment. I gave her a “jackpot” of high value treats (Oh, how she loves cheese!) We’ll be seeking out that Big Metal Monster with yummy snacks at the ready, every time we go – which will be weekly -- until Piper finds it boring.
Tomorrow Piper has her first day at school. And walking down stairs? The thing she wouldn’t try a week ago? Now she runs down stairs after Delaney, often leaping over the last three. I’m trying to keep up…