Dog walking has been taken to the next level in Buenos Aires. Although my photo shows only 5 dogs being walked here, the average Pasea Perros, or dog walker, usually handles about 10 at a time! As a dog lover, it is so much fun to watch these handlers in action as they are taken from their elegant homes in the Recolata district to the nearby park to socialize. Each time I visit (this was my third), my heart pangs for Brandy and Val not only because I miss them, but I KNOW they would LOVE to be a member of a walking group. I am also in awe how the dogs, usually made up of all different shapes and sizes, all seem to seamlessly walk and stop together and get along–no easy feat when one of them needs to “smell the roses.” I’m also amazed that I have never seen a walker get caught up in the leases. Dog walking is serious business in Buenos Aires and the Portenos, as the natives are called, love their dogs and treat them as an important family member as many of us do.
Archive for January, 2010
If you want someone who will eat whatever you put in front of him and never say it’s not quite as good has his mother’s
….ADOPT A DOG.
If you want someone always willing to go out, at any hour for as long and wherever you want,
….. ADOPT A DOG.
If you want someone who will never touch the remote, doesn’t care about football, and can sit next to you as you watch romantic movies
….. ADOPT A DOG.
If you want someone who is content to get on your bed just to warm your feet and whom you can push off if he snores,
……ADOPT A DOG.
If you want someone who never criticizes what you do, doesn’t care if you’re pretty or ugly, fat or thin, young or old, who acts as if every word you say is especially worthy of listening to, and loves you unconditionally, perpetually,
….ADOPT A DOG.
BUT, on the other hand, if you want someone who will never come when you call, ignores you totally when you come home, leaves hair all over the place, walks oall over you, runs around all night and only comes home to eat and sleep, and acts as if your entire existence is solely to ensure his or her happiness,
….ADOPT A CAT.
Animal relief efforts are underway in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12. Food, water and first aid are desperately needed to help the animals that survived and vaccinations are needed to help curb the onset of disease. Haiti will not be able to rebuild and renew if its’ animals, including their livestock, die off! BRANDY AND VAL will donate $5 to Best Friend’s Haiti Animal Rescue, a member of the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) from EVERY Brandy and Val book and toy purchase now through 2/28/10. We are especially fond and thankful to Best Friends since they were so instrumental in coordinating relief, pet relocation and reunification efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Val is a Hurricane Katrina survivor!).
We’ve had our second pet therapy session of 2010 and Val is turning into the major star. He has learned to roll-over for the children and everyone is so impressed. Val continues to be very gentle and patient with the kids and his calm demeanor permeates the classroom. This, all according to dad who splits off from Brandy and me when we go to our sessions. In addition to rolling over, Val and Jay continue to work on hand dexterity by having the kids use a fork to feed Val carrots; grooming and walking.
Brandy continues to make it known that she wishes to be the center of attention. Since we work with two different age groups and skill levels, we do varied tasks in the two classrooms we visit. We had a breakthrough in our first, lower skilled class today, when two of the children who wouldn’t walk with Brandy previously was willing to venture out of the room and “take her for a walk” with me. Brandy did her part in taking the lead and the kids relaxed and concentrated on holding the leash when they realized that Brandy wasn’t threatening to them since she happily greeted everyone in her path. Both classmates seemed to look relaxed and happy as we all ambled through the hallways! In our older group, we had a new activity to show everyone. Since many of the students in this class know their letters and some can read, we had flash cards with Brandy’s favorite commands (sit, stay, down, up, twirl) that the kids would have Brandy do. They enjoyed being able to read as they worked with Brandy. Her newest trick, twirl, was a hit and the kids enjoyed going around in a circle at the same time she did.
In order to hold everyone’s interest, we always try to have a new activity to do. Most of the children we work with are autistic and we always keep in mind that it is important to make sure that the same themes and tasks are reinforced in each session so the kids always feel they are in a comfortable, non-threatening environment!
Happy 2010! Brandy, Val and I are gearing up for our late winter/spring appearances. Our first several months meeting, greeting, reading and announcing our new books and toys have been a fun adventure so far. Kids come up with the funny and interesting questions so I thought I share with you some one that keep coming up or are my favorites (along with the answers!)
1) Is yogurt a healthy treat for dogs? Consult with your vet for the authoritative answer on this. We do not feed Brandy and Val yogurt on a regular basis but we DO let them lick out the bowls when we’re done with ours and they get to lick out what they can from an empty jar. We even have a photo of Brandy doing this in my book Brandy and Val’s Favorite Things. Our vet says that’s fine and the live cultures are good for them.
2) What are the names of the friends that are pictured in the books? In Brandy and Val, the bichon frise’s name is “Petreus.” In Brandy and Val’s Favorite Things, the collie’s name is “Molly” and “Maverick” is the big Bernese Mountain Dog!
3) Who are the cats in the painting on the back cover of BRANDY AND VAL’S SPECIAL STORY? Before we had Brandy and Val, we had two cats, Ragmonster and Oscar. Both were rescues, too!
4) Zachary, the boy for whom I wrote the book,s asks if I tell everyone that I wrote the books for him. YES! I do.
5) What kind of dogs are Brandy and Val? Val is a Labrador Retriever. Brandy is a mix between a Viszla, (a Hungarian hunting dog that look like a red-haired Weimeraner) and a Lab.
6) Probably my favorite question came from a little girl who noticed that all the paw prints in the books are black but Brandy and her mini-toy have pink pads. She then wondered why I only show Val’s footprints in the books. Truth be told, it never crossed my mind to put pink AND black paw prints in the books. Next time!