The Great Canine Badge Caper

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This weekend Jellybean and I had the opportunity to participate in an event for the local Girl Scout chapter.  We were there as part of KPets, the Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy organization.  This is an organization whose motto is “Touching lives, warming hearts through human and animal interaction.”  At any given event you may see dogs of varying breeds and size, cats, mini horses, rabbits, etc. The five dogs that were in attendance during our 2-hour session were met with enthusiasm as the 200 plus young ladies oohed and ahhed over these four-legged fur babies.  They petted and stroked their fur, shared stories about their own pets, and giggled and smiled at the apparel and accessories chosen for this specific event.  It was refreshing to hear so many of the girls sharing their accomplishments as they spoke about the various badges adorning their sashes.  These young, achievement oriented girls represented their organization well, and are enthusiastic leaders in the making.  On the drive home, I glanced at my tired little puppy and started wondering what sort of badges she would earn in the dog world.  After some serious contemplation, I actually came up with a few:

COMPANIONSHIP BADGE – Jellybean has brought so much light into my world.  She earns this badge for romping into my life and being my rambunctious, fun-loving side kick.

LOYALTY BADGE  – I could not ask for a more loyal four-legged friend.  Jellybean is constantly by my side.  This badge is awarded for her unwavering loyalty.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE BADGE  – Jellybean asks for nothing in return, yet gives so much!  She earns this badge for her big heart and sloppy kisses.

NAPPER BADGE – She earns this badge for leaving no spot unturned to find the very best place to nap.

COLLECTOR BADGE – Jellybean is a collector of many things; toys, sticks, pinecones, treats.  She earns this badge for proudly prancing down the street with her treasure of choice.

CONCEALER BADGE  – Jellybean is a certified concealer.  She earns this particular badge for spending much time and consideration as to the perfect hiding place for her special treats.

BEST DRESSED BADGE – Jellybean is quite the fashion diva with her vast wardrobe and accessories.  Jellybean earns this badge for accommodating me, her over the top pet parent, when it comes to having just the right outfit for any occasion.

TAIL CHASING BADGE – Jellybean earns this badge for her expertise at spinning at a high rate of speed as she pursues her elusive fluffy white tail.

MOON WALK BADGE  – Jellybean has been awarded this badge for having mastered backing up lickety split from behind the couch when she hears the rattle of a snack bag.

NAUGHTY BADGE – This was Jellybean’s very first badge, earned for running away with things that did not belong to her.  She was very quickly deemed a naughty little puppy.

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Sloppy Kisses

My third children’s picture book, Sloppy Kisses, captures Jellybean’s journey to becoming a therapy dog.  Although not an easy one, due to Jellybean’s playful and precocious nature, I believe it was written in the stars for her to become a therapy dog. Is it a coincidence that her birthdate just happens to be the same date as my husband’s passing?  I think not.  I truly believe that Dan played a role in sending her to me to help fill the empty abyss of what used to be a heart so content and overflowing with love.  She brings much joy to me with her unconditional love and playful nature.  My husband was a talented, self-employed hair stylist with a big personality, sparkling blue eyes, and a laugh so big that it echoed through the house from his tiny shop.  He loved people!  He loved his customers, and loved making them feel good as he expertly snipped and cut until each style was perfect.  He also loved playing the role of therapist, counselor, psychologist and the like, as together, he and his customers solved the world’s problems.  However, one day a week was set aside to visit the local elder care homes.  Here, he served as barber for the elderly gentlemen who lived in the facilities.  He called them his “Mr. Potato Heads”, as he removed hearing aids, glasses, and other accoutrements before beginning his duties as barber.  After stimulating conversations with some, and quiet conversations with others, he would put them all back together before sending them on their way.  He always came home with such great stories.  The respect he had for these gentlemen was unwavering.  What better ways to honor my husband, than to have Jellybean, my puppy sent straight from heaven, become a therapy dog and provide that same joy to others!

My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has done a wonderful job of capturing Jellybean’s playfulness and sometimes diva-like behaviors throughout the training process.  The story begins with Jellybean attending a Canine Good Citizen class at our local Petco.  At the onset it is quite clear that Jellybean is not quite on program, unlike the rest of her four-legged classmates.  The illustrations in the story depict Jellybean romping through class while the other pups dutifully follow the directions given by the trainer, who, by the way, assured me time and time again that Jellybean would master the skills needed to earn her good citizen award.  I was not so sure, but we kept at it.  Finally, after taking the class for the third time, Jellybean showed the world that she was indeed a Canine Good Citizen!  We moved forward by connecting with a local organization, KPets, that provides therapy services through interactions with pets.  Jellybean successfully mastered the various requirements to become a registered therapy dog.  Woohoo!!!  At this point, my schedule does not allow us to do as much work as I would like, but we do what we can.  We visit local colleges to provide stress relief before finals.  We support York College of Pennsylvania girls’ basketball team by attending all the home games and sharing the love with the many basketball fans.  As my schedule allows, we also attend events at local parks, department stores and elder care facilities.  We also visit schools and libraries so that children can read to the dogs, cats, mini horses, or whatever menagerie of animals happens to be there on that particular day.

Sloppy Kisses is a simple story, geared for the very young crowd, that demonstrates the power of practice and working hard for what you want to achieve.  Sloppy Kisses is available on Amazon.  Simply follow the link:  http://amzn.to/2B78X0Z