Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
October 2008 Volume 8, Issue 2

I hope everyone is back home safe with their pets after evacuating for Hurricane Gustav. Due to the effects of Hurricane Gustav, VVP's September Pet/Handler Evaluation had to be cancelled. We were also forced to cancel our October Volunteer Orientation. Our next Pet/Handler Evaluation will be held on January 10, 2009. Orientations will again resume in June, 2009. Be sure to check our website periodically for updates and announcements.

In the aftermaths of Hurricane Gustav, we had to cancel the visits that were scheduled on the first weekend of September. However, normal visiting has resumed in all the facilities. Our fall visit schedule is posted on the website. If you have not given me your October through December visit dates, please do so ASAP. I need to know your plans for each individual month. You can call me at 866-2532, email at corgigal311@bellsouth.net, or fax me at 866-8920. Current VPP members can also confirm their visits by going to the 'visit schedule' page on our website.

Thank you for your commitment to VPP and service to the community. I hope you and your beloved pet have a wonderful visiting season in the fall.

Program Coordinator

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Fall 2008

To Joyce to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In This Issue
  • Visit Viewpoint
  • And The Winner Is...
  • If You Can Stop My Dog From Barking....

  • Visit Viewpoint

    In September I was not able to visit at my usual facility due to vacation plans. I asked Joyce to assign me wherever she needed volunteers. I figure she's the expert.

    That's how TBoy and I ended up visiting at Chateau Living Center in Kenner. I joined Dawn Hagmann with Hanna and Bea Cottingham with Savannah, who are regular visitors there. Prior to entering the building I mentioned that I had never been to Chateau. Dawn and Bea made sure I knew where to go and explained the facility layout. I really appreciated their thoughtfulness.

    First off, I want to say Chateau Living Center is a very nice facility. We started off going room to room and then ended up in the Atrium. The Atrium is wonderful. It's very, very large and has a vaulted ceiling. There is an area with tables and chairs for games and also conversation areas with sofas and chairs. And tons of space, so everyone can have a private visit.

    As I was on the visit, I kept thinking this is a great visit, but "something is different". As I was driving home the "difference" finally occurred to me. I am so used to going to the same facility every month. At my regular facility I know everyone. Because I know everyone I don't have to do very much. I know who wants to see the dog and who doesn't. They all know my dogs and usually call them by name.

    Going to a different facility I had to really use my "people skills". It took more effort on my part, but it was also more Fun. I am so glad I had this experience. It certainly gave me a new outlook on visiting. Most importantly, it made me realize I have not been giving the residents at my regular facility my 100% effort. This was a wake-up call to make all of my visits just as much Fun.

    The next time you can't make your regular visit, watch out. The facility that Joyce sends you to might have the same effect on you. I hope it does, because it's a good thing.

    Claire Sommers

    And The Winner Is...

    The Golden Rescue and Community Excellence (G.R.A.C.E.) Awards are presented annually by Rescue a Golden of Arizona to recognize Rescued Goldens who have accomplished something significant and exceptional. The award was presented after the National Parade of Rescues at the 2008 Golden Retriever Club of America's Golden Retriever National Specialty in Warwick, RI on Wednesday, September 24, 2008.

    Winning the title of Outstanding Rescued Golden of 2008 was our very own Mita and handler Malay Ghose Hajra . Traveling all the way to Rhode Island to receive their award, Mita and Malay were recognized for their exceptional community service, a shining example of the mission of of the G.R.A.C.E. awards.

    Mita's VPP participation was acknowledged as a large part of her contribution to the New Orleans area. Her outstanding work as an "Ambassadog" with Gulf South Golden Retriever Rescue, the organization that brought Mita and Malay together, won that group a $100 donation from the G.R.A.C.E. award committee.

    As noted in the award program, "Everyone who meets her is encouraged by her loving and comforting nature to rescue a similar canine companion. Mita has had a tremendous positive impact of the world of rescued Goldens with everyone who encounters her."

    Therapy dog, mentor, educator and Ambassadog, Mita represents the best of her breed. Along with handler and always ready volunteer, Malay, this pair has brought great pride to Gulf South Golden Retriever Rescue as well as the Visiting Pet Program. This team is a role model for all of us and a wonderful representation of what is really important...the human/animal bond.

    Our sincere congratulations to Mita and Malay!

    Lee Gaffney

    If You Can Stop My Dog From Barking....

    How many times have I heard people say this?

    Barking is a very complex issue for many dogs, but can be controlled most of the time. It all depends on why the dog is barking, and how YOU can be trained to make it stop. !wink!

    Barking at the window or in the yard is simply alarm barking and is easily corrected. The reason it happens so often is because 1) we sometimes attempt to correct our dogs by "barking" at them to stop. This just makes them feel as if you are having fun along with them; or 2) because the person/critter/vehicle continues to pass by, the dog is rewarded by seeing that he has scared the unwanted object away. If the dog is inside, there are a number of ways that the dog can be corrected. If we are talking about a young dog that has not yet developed the bad habit, one of the things that can be done is simply acknowledge the barking by telling the dog "thank you, that's enough" and re-directing the dog to another location.

    Dogs, who have been barking for some time, might need a less subtle correction. I have often used "Mr. Squirt Bottle" and keep one in most locations around my house. When one of the dogs alarm barks, I simply pick up the bottle and give them a quick spritz in the face, at the same time tell them "no bark" in a calm voice.

    And I can hear the voices now, telling me, "Well, I have a dog that looooves water, so this won't work." If you haven't tried it, don't assume they will be fine with this. I have Labrador Retrievers, and as much as they like water, they do NOT like to have it sprayed in their face. Make sure that the water comes out in a strong stream, rather than a mist - it will make all the difference. You can also up the ante a little by adding some lemon juice or vinegar (half and half) to the spray bottle if water alone does not work.

    If the dog is outside, the same rules will apply. Only it's a little hard to chase the dog down to get the spray bottle in the dog's face. So, in this case, take two stainless steel bowls, or two pot tops and clang them together and tell the dog "no bark" in your calm, but assertive voice. When I have done this, I make sure I let the neighbors know in advance that I am training, and will not be continuing to clang objects outside at all hours, but only until the dogs understand the rules. Most people will be very cooperative if they realize that you are trying to make things more pleasant for everyone.

    If you are the type of person who would rather that their dog have some freedom to bark so that you know if someone is near, then simply make the correction after the dog has vocalized only two or three times. This way, the dog will begin to understand that a few barks are appropriate, but incessant barking is not.

    Dogs that bark for attention can be quite annoying as well. These are typically the dogs that have always been given what they want, and can demand that you play with them. You will recognize this dog by the fact that he sits in front of you and barks until you get up and play, get his dinner, or whatever he demands. If you have a demand barker, try picking up all the toys and taking them out for your dog to play when YOU are ready to play, not when he is. This will let him know that you determine the play time, not him. One of the wonderful things that are good about having a dog that knows commands is that when your dog starts demand barking, you might have him do what I call "puppy push-ups". Simply have him down, then sit, then down, then sit, as quickly as possible. Two benefits to this are it re-directs the dog so that he is not barking, and he gets a lot better at the commands. The dog will soon realize that his demands will be met by demands of your own, which he may not have intended.

    Another tool is to immediately get up from your activity and instead of playing with your dog, take your dog out for an obedience lesson. It won't take long for him to figure out that his agenda is not yours. Dogs that bark in their crates can also be a problem for the owner who wishes to kennel their dog on a regular basis. Most dogs bark in their crates because it has resulted in them being successful in getting their owners to take them out. When your dog barks in the crate, do not remove the dog from the crate until the dog has stopped barking for at least 30 or more seconds.

    If you have a dog that never stops barking in the crate, you can do a number of things which will reduce the barking. 1) use the squirt bottle to correct 2) place a sheet or cover over the crate so that the dog will have no outside stimulation - similar to what some people do when they put a bird up for the night, or 3) take your hand and tap the top of the crate and tell your dog "no bark" so that he is re-directed. If your dog is barking because he has separation anxiety, this is a much more complex issue, and these suggestions may not be the answer to your problem. More desensitization is required for that issue and would be the subject of another article.

    Another hint for preventing a barking dog: don't teach your dog to "speak". There is a school of thought that says if you teach your dog to speak, and then teach the dog "quiet", that you will then be able to teach them to stop barking. Although this may be successful for some people, I have never found it to be successful for me. Please let me know if you have had luck with this. These are the main causes of barking. I'm sure there are some dogs that bark because they are reactive, or for other reasons that I have not covered here. If your dog is reactive, barking is just a symptom of the bigger issue and should be worked on with the help of a trainer.

    If you have any other questions regarding behavior that could be answered in our newsletter, please email me at rbreaud@bellsouth.net, and we will try to answer them.

    Rebecca Breaud


    A donation
    was received from
    Louisiana Boxer Rescue
    Connie Back
    in memory of
    Kevin Gray's beloved dog,

    A donation was given by
    Fay Schultz
    in honor of
    Denise Mehurin's
    service on the VPP Board.

    Donations were received
    in loving memory of
    Jeanette Gustat Hofler's beloved
    Claire Sommers
    Lee and Tom Gaffney

    A donation
    was received from
    Brenda Chetta and Maggy
    in memory of her toy poodle and Maggy's mom,

    A donation was made by
    Bill and Fay Schultz
    in memory of
    Elaine Campell- Whitney

    A donation
    was received from
    AT&T United Way/Employee Giving Campaign
    Dawn Hagmann

    A donation was received from
    American Express Foundation
    Employee Giving Campaign.

    The donor was
    Jonathan L Levy

    A donation was received from
    Jerry Gibel

    A donation was given by
    Aetna Foundation, Inc.
    Partners in Community Giving

    on behalf of volunteer
    Barbara Hyland

    About the Visiting Pet Program

    The Visiting Pet Program is an all volunteer 501 (C)(3) non-profit animal assisted therapy organization serving Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes.

    For the past 22 years, the volunteers of the VPP have lived up to their motto of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles" to the residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

    Our literacy project, Reading to Rover, offers young readers the opportunity to practice their reading aloud skills to the gentle therapy dogs.

    If you would like to make a donation to the Visiting Pet Program, please click on the button below or mail your check to 5831 S. Johnson Street, New Orleans, LA 70125. Please note if your donation is in memory of a person or a pet. We will be happy to send an acknowledgment of your donation to the family. Please include the name and address to send the acknowledgment. Because we are a 501(C)(3) organization, your donation is tax deductible. We are an all volunteer organization. Your donation goes directly to the support of our mission.
    Thank you

    Take Note!


    New Pet/Handler Evaluation

    Saturday, January 10th
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Joyce Kleinfeldt if you would like to have an additional pet tested

    Reading To Rover

    On the East Bank
    Held on the third Tuesday of each month
    at the East Bank Regional Library
    4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie

    On the West Bank
    Held on the second Sunday of each month
    2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey
    from 2:00pm-3:00pm

    Events are now being planned in conjunction with the STAIR program. Please contact Fay for upcoming times and locations

    Contact Fay Schultz
    or 504-835-9571
    to confirm your slot at any of these
    Reading To Rover


    to Jeanette Gustat Hofler,
    who lost her beloved Alaskan Malamute,
    in August. Kiana was 12 years old and was a Visiting Pet since 1997. Jeanette and Kiana were regular visitors at Malta Park. Kiana also participated in Reading to Rover. We are truly appreciative of all the joy brought to the residents she visited. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her. Our deepest sympathies to Jeanette on the loss of her beloved girl.

    Animal Health Fair
    Delgado Community College
    will hold its first
    Animal Health Fair on
    Saturday, October 18
    from 1pm to 3pm
    at the City Park campus. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. VPP will have a booth at the event. Questions? Call Lee Gaffney at 671-5640

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for Fall 2008

    Help VPP by shopping through IGive

    Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise

    phone: 504-866-2532 Fax: 504-866-9823

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