About The Foster Zoo

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We have decided to blog our adventures again. So much has changed since we last blogged. Bella and Shiloh both went to their forever homes and they are in wonderful families. June Bug got adopted. We quit fostering dogs after those adoptions because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. We quit doing therapy dog work because Tanker's epilepsy got bad. Tanker passed away June 9th, 2013. We adopted a senior border collie named Shania Tankerbelle in his memory. We still have our two cats, Sweet Pea and Little Bit. Wes has started rescuing pitiful bettas from Wal-Mart and we currently have seven. We have a camper. We camp. We have focused on giving our animals the best lives possible. We are The Foster Zoo Crew and we like to have fun.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shadowing Our Mentor

Today Wes and I were privileged enough to shadow an amazing woman and her therapy dog.  Kris and her dog, Titus, have been our mentors throughout our therapy dog training.  She is Delta certified and has three dogs she works with, Buddy, Titus, and Malachi.  Buddy is retired, Titus is her current therapy dog, and she is currently training Malachi.  I mention this to show how experienced she is at what she does.  She is also a retired teacher, so working with kids is her specialty.  She is a true Christian and a servant of Christ.  She loves others whole heartedly.  She serves others without judging them.  She helps the children/people who no other therapy dog team wants to put the work into.  She touches the lives of people who need it most.  It's pretty easy to see why we look up to Kris to so much.  We're lucky to call her our mentor.

I shadowed Kris and Titus two weeks ago at two different elementary schools.  Wes was not able to go because he was working.  For the last two weeks, all I have done is talk about the wonderful things I witnessed while watching them work with special ed children.  Wes has been eager to shadow her ever since.  He was fortunate enough to get the day off of work today to be able to.  He was as amazed at what he saw as I was.

Our day started out at 8:45.  The first elementary school we went to is the tougher of the two schools.  Kris and Titus work with a lot of severly autistic children.  The classes whe works in are ED classes, or emotionally disturbed.  Many of these children do not talk.  Some of these children have a difficult time petting nicely.  Some of these children don't even want to be touched.  When Titus comes in the room, their faces light up.  This isn't just another teacher there to evaluate them, teach them, rehabilitate them, or try to mold them into the kids they ought to be.  This is a dog that only sees a child.  The kids pet him, play games with him, perform activites that help them with sight words, coordination, and sequence of events.  The best part is that he makes it fun!  The kids open up to him.  They succeed in ways that they don't when he's not there.  Kris works with their teachers to accomplish tasks they are trying to achieve in their IEPs.  Their interactions with Titus are recorded in their daily activities for the day.  (Titus is charted...lol...I am not a teacher...I can only write this from a nurse's perspective.)

The second school we attended was a little easier.  We still worked with special ed children, but they weren't as severe as the children at the first school.  This school truly loves dogs.  There are several therapy dog teams that go to this school on a weekly basis.  Titus is clearly a favorite.  He is the only dog that works with the special ed kids.  When we went to our first class, the teacher greeted us and told us we'd be doing something a little different today.  Usually the kids pick out a book and read to Titus to the best of their ability.  Today though, they had all written short little papers about Titus, attatched their pictures to them, and hung them on the wall outside.  Each child went out into the hallway to read their story to Titus and Kris.  This, of course, brought tears to Kris' eyes.  To see how much a dog has helped a child is very moving.  Titus helps them WANT to read.  Titus helps them WANT to write.  Titus helps them WANT to succeed.  That is a magnificent thing to witness.

We worked for about six hours today.  That is a lot for a dog!  Wes and I are very inspired by Kris and Titus and we are working extra hard to pass our CGC certification this Tuesday and our Delta test on March 13th.  Wes adds, "With four paws and a giving heart, it is clear to me that any child can succeed."  We are excited to be able to contribute to this wonderful work for many years.  That is our desire.

Our volunteer badges from one elementary school today and Titus' Valentine sticker that he passed out to kids. Note to follow later. It was a great day!

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