Just an update to say Spock and I are still continuing our weekly Read With Me school visits in the Pet Partners (PP) Therapy Dog program.
We have been attending for 5-months on Mondays, or on Tuesdays when school holiday falls on Monday. Spock (and I) just love the school visits, helping the student to read and comprehend better. The biggest revelation I found is the love and admiration the kiddos have for Spock, not being afraid of a Doberman! I suppose these young ones, from Pre-K to 5th grade haven't been exposed to the bad Doberman stereotypes of the 70's and 80's movies and TV.
Spock has behaved absolutely ideal in all the visits! I am so proud of him. Upon check in at the registration desk the assistant (older lady) initially was a little afraid of Spock, but now she gives him a handful of Cheerios as he puts his big Dober paws up on the counter! We normally work out of the Library on Mondays, but use an alternate, empty classroom with large carpet on Tuesdays.
I have a Read With Me logo'd shoulder tote bag (to keep hands free) equipped with everything for the reading sessions as recommended by the PP Read With Me guidebook. This includes treats, water, collapsible bowl, napkins, towels, poop bags, laminated school map & holiday calendar, flashlight, extra lead, first aid kit, notebook, pens, plus more. I have my PP ID laminated and Spock's Rabies cert both in his PP vest and on outside of the bag. (Have to leave unattended bag in library or reading room when changing out students)
During the first few visits we avoided the large groups of classes passing in the hallways, but now we pass them with impunity. We hear several kids call out "Spock!" or "Puppy!" when we pass. With the student readers, Spock sits down between me and the student in a down position. During the 30 minute reading sessions, Spock will lay on side and touch the student or myself with his big paw as the story is read. I will try to get some photos taken at some point, but this requires releases by school and parents. I can definitely see improvement in the student's reading, confidence and presentation skills.
At end of each reading session the student will give some treats to Spock when he completes an obedience task/trick for them. We also give him some water in collapsible rubber bowl from small bottle, as I've found he gets thirsty. I have never had him get anxious during sessions except this last Monday's visit, where I found he needed to potty #2 when getting home. He indicated this by getting up several times and making circles during last reading session. Like a champ, he held it until we got home (5-minute ride). I normally have him potty in back yard before leaving for school and he pee's in garden area at front of school before checking in.
Many times, when picking up/dropping off the students at their classrooms, the entire class will come to door to pet Spock, who I bring inside the room some. He always sniffs the trash as the kids eat snacks and throw away remnants. Spock has behaved perfectly, even when having (10) pairs of hand on him petting at once! (He's probably thinking- "Bring it on- I just can't get enough love and attention!") Due to his love of food, and mooching skills, Spock will never go into the cafeteria!
If anything, the only issue has been the other Read With Me therapy dog who visits before us on Mondays. The female golden-doodle barks at Spock when she sees him passing in hallways and a few times, he returned it. So now, I make sure to stay out in parking lot until the other dog clears the entrance, then head in. Spock is use to females talking smack to him- he lives with our Eva, a female Dobe! Other handler, (same one I shadowed on an early visits) says a Doberman lives behind her house and barks at her dog over property line, explaining her dog's reaction to Spock. I guess to other dogs, all Dobermans look (smell) alike?
I always stop at our local coffee kiosk (not SB's) drive thru on way home and reward Spock with a Pupuccino (whip cream in little cup w/biscuit) On next update, hope to have some pics for you.