Thursday, May 20, 2010

the best medicine

A wonderfully detailed report below from Salvador's adopter Jackie Gunby after a particularly busy day doing therapy work. They showed up ready to work in a locked psychiatric ward with a multitude of challenges. It sounds like the just the kind of job for a bulldog like Sal, who's overcome some tough challenges himself.

For privacy reasons, Jackie can't share photos of the clients, but we're very grateful to Inga Sheffield (below) for helping us see Sal "at work" on her father - I.M. Sheffield III - who, we're told, wasn't so sure about his daughter's work with pit bulls until this meeting. The photos tell the rest of the story. Thank you Jackie for sharing this visit with us, and to Salvador for giving us all a dose of your best medicine.


From Jackie: Big Sal was bulletproof last night at a locked psych facility. None of the other 4 teams showed, so the choice was: go it alone or bow out for the night? This visit is to acute care (up to 7-8 people), childrens ward (7-8), then adolescents/teenagers (5-7), then adult population (15-20). That's alot of people to visit, and while Sal is good with children, I notice that they can stress him out a little so I'm trying to limit his exposure to keep visits enjoyable for him.

We had our own personal security detail (Herb, who is a mountain of a man - tall, booming voice, quick smile, wants a Saluki) who thinks Big Sal is the best thing since sliced bread. He and I put our heads together for a workable plan. He knew that all the units were looking forward to some doggy lovin, and he checked in all the units before we moved to the next one to see how many people were there, and to make sure that we were ushered to an area where Sal could work his magic and not be overwhelmed.



Acute Care (deemed a danger to themselves and others) - Five clients. Each wanted attention and petting, and to tell their own pet stories, they worked pretty well together giving each other time to pet and have Sal to themselves. He sat in his own chair very politely for attention, and only glanced briefly at the little cup of ice cream that one of them had. One client wanted to walk him out to their special outdoor enclosure to smell the smells and talk to him privately (I swore I wouldn't listen!) and he was great walking with her.



Children's ward - The best of all possible scenario's for Big Sal: two children and one wanted to take his bath and go to bed - didn't want any interaction. So, the little girl (maybe 10 years old), got to have her own private visit with the pitty-prince. Lots of petting, massaging, snuggling and giggling due to kisses and happy wiggles.

Adolescents - Three mid-teen young women who were having a nice time coloring together when we came in, all instantly hit the floor with squealing and calling him over for hugs and kisses. They did a great job "sharing" him, and we got to talk about responsible dog ownership, why Sal doesn't have cajones, and what they can do to help make sure all dogs are cared for and loved properly. (Side note - we get to talk ALOT about why we got no cajones at Juvenile Hall, it's a staple topic and if I don't bring it up, one of the kids does first thing!)

Adult Care - Our personal security detail ushered us into a side TV room with about seven clients, both men and women. All the ladies hit the floor again for petting, hugs and kisses, The gentlemen were a little more reserved, but melted like puddles when our boy gently climbed each lap to give a big smooch.

Towards the end, one of the ladies was becoming more agitated and was losing focus, but before it could escalate Sal turned to focus on her directly, walked up on her lap (she's sitting on the floor), planted a big smooch on her, then gently walked up her torso til he was face to face with her and put his head on her shoulder for a hug, and gave her some gentle little neck kisses.

She wrapped her arms around him and just hugged him tight. I was watching to make sure she would release him when he was ready, but he stayed there for a goodly amount of time!

She was in heaven and we left her with a big smile on her face and pleased as punch to run to tell the staff what happened, and that she would wait a little while for more medication. She was feeling better.


UPDATE 6/11: Salvador and Jackie just accepted a Hero Award from the Placer SPCA along with her team for the work they do bringing comfort to Kaiser hospital patients. Many congratulations! News

31 comments:

who wouda thunk it?? said...

I am totally in love with thst big white face! He reminds me so much of my first, an irreplaceable, Byrnie, my bestset buddy from age five weeks til 12 yrs old.

Muchadoaboutnothing said...

Great story. I'm sitting here laughing and crying and enjoying the pictures. Keep up the great work!

jess said...

this might be one of my favorite posts! After spending one super dreamy night with Sal in a hotel room during pit ed camp, I have no doubt his special brand of lovin' is bringing joy to the people who need it most. Cuddling with Sal really is the best drug and Jackie and Sal are such a cool duo. You two make my heart swell : ) Healing hearts, changing minds...

scargosun said...

I think my heart just grew! What a wonderful boy Sal is and you too Jackie!

Dianne said...

This put a big smile on my face. They say laughter is the best medicine but I say the best medicine is bully kisses! Bravo, Sal

Di

Donna said...

O Jess! I *forgot* you got to sleep with Sal. I'm green with envy!

Abigail S. Bean said...

Animals can do wonders!

Mary said...

So awesome. I would love love love to do this kind of work with my Daisy, but even though she is a rockstar in general, she is incapable of passing the supervised separation portion of any qualifying exam. So, no CGC for us and definitely no Therapy certification. So sad.

puddles said...

I LOVE these kinds of stories. Please keep posting them. That made me teary with joy. The pics are wonderful of Jackie's father and Sal.

Teresa said...

He just exudes love. It's awesome that you take the time to share him.

Lilo, The Great Rock Eater said...

What a great report!!! It's visits like this that will go a long way toward changing how people see these fabulous dogs!!!

Jess

Dianne said...

I'm hearing there was a fire at East Bay Humane and some cats were lost. Can you fill us in on the situation? I suppose they need fosters. Everyone doing all right?

J.M said...

What a great update on Sal.
Mr Sheffield`s face says it all doesn`t it.

Anonymous said...

I am addicted to this blog and this story really got the tears rolling. I live in a small community in VT where many young men have committed suicide in just the past couple months. Just thinking about how often people are touched by mental illness makes me depressed :o( but reading about Sal cheers me up beyond words. Pitties are the best at making people smile and knowing when someone needs some extra lovin'. It is a double-win when you can ease someone's pain and change minds about this breed at the same time! Thanks for making my day!

jess said...

Donna - I gave that stud muffin a bath too. He was such a generous love bug! Is it wrong that bathing and snuggling with Sal was the highlight of my summer?

Reading this post, it is so clear that Sal is doing the work he was born to do. It must make you and Tim feel so proud! What an adoption!!

Pibble said...

I swear, my dogs are what keep me sane. Just look at the wonderful feelings Sal left with all of the people he visited! Keep up the great work, Jackie!

Lynn (in Louisiana) said...

I just love this blog!!

Gwen | Your Healthy Pet said...

What a great story, this is also a very good blog.

Gwen | Your Healthy Pet said...

What a great story. Keep up the great blogging. :)

Jill said...

I love you Sal!!! I cried while reading this post. Bless you sweet boy.

Doc Sinister said...

Sometimes there just aren't enough "Good Boy"s to express how good a dog really is. What a wonderful post.

Tori said...

This is awesome. I always new Sal was a gem of a dog, but I'm glad he's getting to strut his stuff in an arena where he can both help people and his breed. Go Sally! :)

Kirsten said...

Awwwww. A sweetheart at work ♥

NYCKitten said...

Beautiful pics, inspiring post - thank you Salvador!!! XOXO

Sandis said...

You have got lovely pics. I Love these kinds of stories. Please keep posting them.

V. lagra said...

Nice pictures of pits. This blog securing the future of American pits with the help of giving the best medicine.

hakan altan said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

So happy to see Salvador again!! What a beautiful post.

Claudia, Retha's Mom said...

This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing! Retha misses Sal sooooo much, but we're so happy he's doing what he does best...make people happy!! Congratulations Sal and Jackie on the Hero Award!

colleen said...

Dear Salvador and Jackie,

Thank you so much for bringing a dog's warm love to the locked psych units. This story choked me up because it represents a scenario I know too well. I had to have several stints on locked psych units when I was in my early twenties and it was the adoption of a pit-mix shortly after that has enabled me to become the master of my mental illness. (Well, medication and therapy were crucial elements, too, but there's no medicine quite like the brilliant beam of a dog's focused love.) Today I'm balanced, happy, and still benefiting every day from the joy of living with my own personal therapy dog. I hope Salvador continues to visit patients who are struggling through some of their darkest hours, spreading hope, joy, and peace one pibble kiss at a time.

http://c-creativity.blogspot.com/

Samantha Curtis said...

Very nice pictures. They are just so adorable. Amazing post you have here.