Maya and Her Favorite Ball

Maya has a favorite ball. It’s an old soccer ball that once belonged to our children. We discovered many years ago that Maya loved playing fetch with this particular ball. The ball is now worn and deflated, but it is still Maya’s favorite. We store it in the garage in a bin on a shelf. Once in a while, Maya re-discovers her favorite ball and stands by it, whimpering until a human gets it for her. Maya is older and slower now but when she sees her favorite ball she is a puppy again. Her enthusiasm is infectious!

Maya’s Favorite Ball

 

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Happy Birthday Maya!

Today we are celebrating our dog, Maya’s, 10th birthday. She was named Maya after the Maya Indians of Mexico who were the first to make chocolate with the cacao bean and Maya is a chocolate lab.

When we brought her home in May of 2007 …

The early years…

 

 

 

 

 

 

All grown up…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The London years…

 

Her working years…

Her big sister years…

 

 

Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl Maya!

May we enjoy many more wonderful years together!

Everyday with you is a celebration!

 

 

Maya’s Toy Collection and the Philosophical Ramifications

Maya's Foyer Toy Collection

“Maya, put your toys away!”

We keep Maya’s toys neatly stored in a basket in the family room. But Maya always manages to bring her toys over to the foyer rug one at a time, until she has amassed a collection of toys proudly displayed in the foyer welcoming our guests and a few more scattered throughout the first floor. Pure mayhem! The foyer serves as a home base for Maya. We play a game of chasing her throughout the house, in which she always runs to the foyer, anticipates our arrival, protects a toy in her month, and relishes in our futile attempts of taking it away. We have trained Maya to do many things, but somehow we forgot how to teach her to pick up her toys. She is 7 years old now, not what I would consider an old dog, so I suppose I can still teach her a new trick. What would that sound like?  “Maya, bring your toys to the basket!” “Maya, clean your room!” or “Maya, put your toys away!”. And of course, unlike human children who would probably answer back with some excuse or beg to do it later, Maya would just look at me with her beautiful brown eyes and wag her tail happily. And since her happiness is so infectious, I would probably just say, “oh who cares about the booby-trapped foyer rug, Maya you are way too cute, let’s go play.” Reminding me to have a little fun and to cherish our time together, even if it means tripping over toys.

 

 

Maya & the Ginkgo Tree, Part II

Maya Awaits Winter

Maya Awaits Winter

Maya waited

With patience and hope

For winter to come

With all of its snow.

She sat on the hill

On top of the leaves

That’d fallen from Gingko

Awaiting the freeze.

The Snowflakes Arrive!

The Snowflakes Arrive!

And suddenly like magic

The snowflakes came down

On Maya they landed

And on leaves on the ground

Maya rejoiced

For winter was here

She frolicked in snow

She ran far and near

Maya Frolicking In the Snow!

Maya Frolicking In the Snow!

Reminding me

Of what really counts

To play and have fun

When winter abounds

The solstice arrived

A change it now brings

The days now get longer

While Maya plans spring.

Maya, The Therapy Dog

Maya Volunteering at an Elementary School

Maya Volunteering at an Elementary School
The teacher’s husband built this clever dog house for the children to read to the the volunteer dogs.

Maya, our wonderful six-year old chocolate Labrador retriever, is certified as a Therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). Maya is smart and very friendly with all people and other dogs. What sets her apart is her extremely gentle, sweet, loving, and almost humble disposition.

In 2008 at age 1½ Maya passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizenship certification. THE GCC program rewards a dog for its good manners at home and in the community certifying that the dog understands basic obedience commands. My husband and I did all of Maya’s training. We had previously raised two yellow Labrador sisters and at the time we took a deep interest in dog training. In 2009, I started training Maya to take the Therapy Dogs International (TDI) certification test. TDI is a volunteer organization that regulates, tests, and registers therapy dogs and their handlers. Therapy dogs are used to provide comfort, friendship, and love to people in different types of facilities such as schools, universities, nursing homes, hospitals, and hospices. In turn, this exposure to therapy dogs has been shown to help patients with stress reduction and overall wellness. Therapy dogs can also help students with stress reduction and increase confidence and learning skills. The TDI certification test covers the basic obedience commands of the GCC but also includes several more advanced training requirements. Maya received her TDI certification in October of 2009. Once you receive the certification you must renew the registration and submit updated health records every year.

Soon after Maya’s certification my neighbor asked me if her children could spend time with Maya. Her son was very afraid of dogs and they were hoping to get a family dog. After several visits with Maya, my neighbor’s son’s comfort level with dogs grew enormously. Today, our neighbor owns two dogs.

Maya waits patiently outside of the teacher's classroom until it's our time to go in.

Maya waits patiently outside of the teacher’s classroom until it’s our time to go in.
She also wonders what exciting things are going on down the hallway.

I kept hoping to find other volunteer assignments but we kept getting distracted. It was only after we returned to the US this year after living abroad that the opportunity to do official Therapy dog volunteer work presented itself. If a facility is interested in having a volunteer dog and handler visit them, they submit a request to Therapy Dogs International. In turn, TDI sends e:mails to its members who may be geographically close to the facility that has requested a therapy dog. I was very excited to be invited to work with a local elementary school with one of their teachers. In October, the 2nd grade teacher invited us to an initial “meet and greet” session with her whole class. The children were so excited to meet Maya. They asked me lots of questions about her. After the Q&A they descended upon Maya smothering her with hugs and love, making her a very happy dog. After the meet and greet several of the 2nd graders took turns reading to Maya. Children that participate in these doggie reading programs have shown an increase in confidence, self-esteem, and reading skills when they are reading to a “doggie friend”.

We have been going to the school for several weeks now. It has been a very rewarding experience for me to be able to share Maya and to help with the children’s reading skills as well. Maya of course is thrilled to attend these volunteer sessions.

Below are some photos of priceless moments that I have captured of Maya and her reading buddies. Maya chooses where to sit with each child and how to do her “listening”. It appears to me that sometimes her decisions are based on the child’s comfort level with her. Maya also loves the teacher. I bet if I dropped her off at school to visit all day she would be delighted. This is one of the attributes I love about Maya, that she can be happy with everyone and not just her owners. She is  a true ambassador of love.

This little boy and Maya are best buds. They just can't get close enough. This particular morning, Maya started listening by his side. Soon she discovered that the small of his back was very comfy. The little boy kept reading. Notice her eyes are open here. Look at the next picture.

This little boy and Maya are best buds. They just can’t get close enough to each other. This particular morning, Maya started listening by his side. Soon she discovered that the small of his back was very comfy. The little boy kept reading. Notice her eyes are open here. Look at the next picture.

Maya is lulled to sleep by the gentle sound and vibration of his voice. So much for active listening.

Maya is lulled to sleep by the gentle sound and vibration of his voice. So much for active listening.

This little girl is not comfortable with dogs. Maya sits a little further away.  Part way through her reading she stretches her little hand and touches Maya's paw. Notice the next picture.

This little girl is not comfortable with dogs. Maya sits a little further away. Part way through her reading she stretches her little hand and touches Maya’s paw. Notice the next picture.

Her comfort level with Maya goes up and the little hand reaches over to Maya's head. She sits quietly and lets her do this.

Her comfort level with Maya goes up and the little hand reaches over to Maya’s head. Maya sits quietly and lets her do this.

The little boy likes Maya a lot as well. He was reading his book when Maya felt it was time for him to give her love and attention. Kind of hard to read with Maya's big head covering the book. The boy and I laughed together.

This little boy likes Maya a lot as well. He was reading his book when Maya felt it was time for him to give her love and attention. Kind of hard to read with Maya’s big head covering the book. The boy and I laughed together.

This little guy is comfortable with dogs but does not make a big deal about Maya. But this particular day, she helped prop up the book. Seemed like the practical thing to do.

This little guy is comfortable with dogs but does not make a big deal about Maya. But this particular day, she helped prop up the book. Seemed like the practical thing to do.

Here is another one of Maya's best buds.

Here is another one of Maya’s best buds.

For more information on the AKC and it’s Good Canine Certification Program go to:

http://www.akc.org/events/cgc/program.cfm

For more information on TDI go to:

http://www.tdi-dog.org/Default.aspx

To read more about children reading to dogs go to:

http://www.tdi-dog.org/OurPrograms.aspx?Page=Children+Reading+to+Dogs

Maya & The Ginkgo Tree

Maya Under Her Gingko Tree

Maya Under Her Ginkgo Tree

Once upon a time

There was a Ginkgo tree

With fan-shaped leaves

So delicate and green

Then summer ended

Crisp autumn arrived

The Ginkgo turned gold

Its leaves bright and alive

It was one fine day

When Maya stood near

Enjoying the view

And the time of the year

Then without warning

The gold leaves fell down

Descending on Maya

Ginkgo losing its crown

Maya pondered

Deeply in thought

Sir Newton was right

About what he taught

Maya Deep in Thought on the Pond of Leaves

Maya Deep in Thought on the Pond of Leaves

She sat in the pond

Of crispy gold leaves

Counting the days

To snow and the freeze

Because Maya is happy

No matter the time

The weather, the month

To her it’s sublime