Aby-a-Day – May 15 – AARP Life@50 2014

Last Thursday, Jacoby and I were invited to participate in the United Healthcare booth at the AARP 2014 Life@50 National Event in Boston. It was held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, only a mile and half from where we live!

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It was a nice day so we walked over to the convention center, where we met up with our host from United Healthcare, Christine, and another PetPartners therapy team, Lee Ann and Sophie.

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Sophie, a King Charles Spaniel, is deaf. She was excited to meet the famous Strollercat, though.

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The other therapy teams were Deb and Boo, a Shitzu, and Nikki and Ralphie, an Abyssinian guinea pig. The convention center is HUGE (it’s the largest in New England), and we had to walk a good way to get to the area the event was actually being held.

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Good thing we have a stroller!

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Like I said, the hall is huge, but we’ve been to big convention halls before. Jake was eager to explore…

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But I made him stay in his stroller.

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“Aw, geez Mom…”

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I got a United Healthcare shirt to wear, so I took this selfie of Jake and I. We participated in a panel about therapy animals, sitting on the stage at a table while there was a slideshow presentation. I don’t have photos of that yet, but I should hopefully be getting some that I can share later.

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After the presentation, we hung out at the United Healthcare booth. There were several different stations in the booth, which was quite large. There was a Boston photo booth, so Jake and I posed for this…it needed a little Photoshop touch-up because the flash lit up Jake’s eyes (and yeah, while I was in there, I might have added a little lens flare).

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Another part of the booth was set up for visitors to create cheerful cards to send to children in hospitals.

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This is the one Jake and I drew.

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The inside says “Sending you sunshine.”

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Yet another section had a whiteboard for people to write their “What’s Next” moment.

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I cannot pass a whiteboard without doodling a cat on it, so I drew this…

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We also met Ralphie the Abyssinian guinea pig, of course!

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Ralphie and Nikki visit at the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Center too, but we haven’t run into each other there, yet.

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Jake and Ralphie sat next to each other on the table at the panel. Despite being at different ends of the food chain, they seemed to have no instinctual problems with each other.

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I know it may not seem that way in these photos, but…

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…the BEST photo turned out blurry. I saved it by turning it into “art.”

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Abyssinian guinea pigs are “Abyssnian” because of their hair, not their colour. It has whorls and sticks up in odd places. They can be any colour that regular guinea pigs are, but Ralphie just happens to be whatever the guinea pig equivalent of ruddy is. I wonder what an Aby cat would look like with Aby guinea pig fur?

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After our duties at the United Healthcare booth were fulfilled, we were allowed to explore the rest of the event.

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There was a lot to see!

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We even met the Geico gecko!

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We stayed until 6pm, when the event closed for the day. We’d been there since 1:30, so it was a pretty long day for Jake.

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Despite that, he was still perky and cheerful.

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It was a great event and we had a wonderful time. I’m so glad that Jake and I were able to be a part of it all!

Aby-a-Day – May 1: Banner Day

I got the following email a couple of days ago:

Hello

Pet Partners will be updating our Facebook header on Thursday to include several photos of our registered therapy animals. You’ll be pleased to know that your pet’s photo has been chosen as one of those featured.

A few of these photos have been in our files for years and some of those pets are no longer with us. The inclusion of their photos is a tribute to all the benefits they provided during their years as therapy animals.

I hope you enjoy the look of the new header – we look forward to your comments.

How very cool!

Jacoby and I are also going to participate in an AARP Event next week at the Boston Convention Center in South Boston. We’ll be with the UnitedHealthcare booth providing stress relief to attendees and passing out Pet Partners information highlighting the importance of therapy animal visitation. It should be very interesting – and it’s close to home!

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Pet Partners sent me a thank you note and a tote bag for Jake and my service.

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As you can see, Jake likes it!

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We didn’t really need a thank you gift to take Jake on therapy visits, but it’s a pretty nice totebag.

Abys are Everywhere – Hey, wait a second..!

Every month, I get an e-newsletter from Pet Partners with updates and articles about other therapy teams across the nation. This month, I opened up my email as usual and noticed a familiar face:

It’s Jacoby, wearing one of his Tiny’s Ties!

No, it really is him! I sent the photo in a while ago and then promptly forgot about. It was a nice surprise to see Jake in my email.

Aby-a-Day – May 17: “Therapy is incredibly therapeutic” (Friday Flashback)

While today Jacoby is a veteran therapy cat, that wasn’t always the case.

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Everyone has to start somewhere. Jake and I started in 2010.

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First I took a class to teach me to be a therapy human.

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Then Jake and I went out in public to practice. We did the things we do now, really: went shopping, hung out at Art Beat, the usual.

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Finally, we had to pass a test that involved real-life scenarios we might encounter while on a visit.

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Our first assignment was at a nursing home in Dedham.

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It was a great facility, but it was complicated to get to without a car.

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The program director also resigned a month or so after we started, so we started going to a different nursing home.

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This one was easier to get to, but it was still a tricky commute on the T’s green line.

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It also turns out that Jake’s therapy talents aren’t really geared towards nursing homes. He’s not so much a “sitting on the bed quietly” sort of cat as some other breeds are.

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When we went to visit students in the residence hall during finals at RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design), it was clear that Jake had found his therapy niche!

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And of course, now, with our regular visits to Tufts Medical Center…

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…and special assignments, like our trip last month to visit first responders at the Boston Marathon finish line bombing, it’s clear that Jake is a consummate therapy cat!

Aby-a-Day – May 12: “The hardest working cat in Boston”

The other day, my friend Lee, who also does pet therapy, asked me if she could interview me about Jacoby’s participation in the BAA therapy event we went to a couple of weeks ago for an online magazine. It was published yesterday: “A Purr Massages the Heart: A Therapy Cat Story From The Boston Bombing.” I think it’s a wonderful article; I always feel so awkward when people interview me for articles about Jacoby for some reason. I like how she wrote it from Jake’s point of view, and there are some really nice comments on it, too.

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On Friday, we got a certificate in the mail from Pet Partners for that visit!

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Look how proud Jake is! I swear he’s smiling in this photo.

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We also just got some professional therapy photos taken by Picture People (we had a Groupon for a portrait sitting). We got some wonderful shots, two of which I’m using on a new set of therapy cards to give to the people we visit.

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Some of them turned out really great!

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Others are pretty dorky. But I’m glad I paid extra to have the CD of all the photos taken in our session, because they really do show the bond he and I have.

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And that makes this a pretty good Mother’s Day post, too.