Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Very First Hospital Visit (by: Carlo)

This week I went with my pal on our very first hospital visit to Sutter Memorial!

There was quite a bit of prep before we even made it to the hospital. Before EVERY visit we make, I have to be totally clean. So, the night before our visit, my pal gave me a bath. I hopped in the tub and she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed me some more. It wasn't like I was even all that dirty, but there sure was a lot of scrubbin' going on! After my bath, she cleaned my ears, trimmed my nails, and brushed my teeth. Then she used the furminator on me. The furminator is this special brush that makes my hair go flying off. Every time my pal uses it, she comments on how much dang hair I have. What can I say? I'm part golden retriever!

All that cleaning was totally worth it because I REALLY enjoyed the hospital visit the next night. We went with a group of four other handlers and their dogs... one dog was big like me, one was sort of medium sized, and two were itty bitty little things. I think I was the youngest one there. There were also three people there who have been Delta volunteers for a long time... they took us around the hospital and showed our handlers what they were supposed to do.

We first went to the high risk maternity ward. We were told that this was a good place to start because it was a low stress environment for new dogs and handlers. After visiting a few patients there, we went to the cardiac monitoring ward. This was a little more stressful because several of the patients recently had surgery. We had to be very mindful of equipment and tubes. Fortunately, because I'm so big, I could walk right next to beds of patients, where the patients could easily pet me. Eventually, I'm going to learn how to also sit on a chair and lay in bed with patients, so that they can pet and snuggle with me even more.

I sure am glad that I had all of that training when I was younger to be a CCI assistance dog. Even though I didn't make it in that program, the training sure did prepare me for my new line of work. I'm used to being out in public and experienceing new things, so nothing at the hospital phased me. But, I could tell it was a little stressful on the other dogs. Some of them got a little nervous around big machinery and in the elevator. The other volunteers kept commenting on how calm and mellow I was, but having been a CCI pup in training, I totally had an advantage!

We got to visit some really nice people at the hospital... and they were so happy to see us! We even got a ton of attention from the hospital staff. They have very stressful jobs, and I think us dogs helped relieve that stress (sort of like when I used to go to work with my pal and my pal's co-workers would pet and snuggle with me when they had stressful days). The absolute best part about my hospital visit was visiting with the patients. When I would enter a room, I could immediately sense a patient was not feeling well. But, then the patient would see me and his/her face would totally light up! Several patients told me about their dogs at home and how much they missed them. I bet these dogs can't wait for their person to come home again. I'm happy that I can be a doggie substitute for these people until they can once again snuggle with their own dogs in the comforts of their home.

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