By RozeLyn Beck
As a pet partner team that thoroughly enjoys our work, December 5, 2011 was a very, very bad day for Cadbury and me. We “failed” that all important re-test that is required every two years. I say “we”, and that was clearly the case. Cadbury and I have been a pet partner team for 4 years. We passed our original evaluation, and then we passed a reevaluation two years later. With my registration up for renewal in March 2012, I decided to test in December 2011.
Cadbury is an amazing animal and is great with patients when we visit both Mt. Sinai Rehabilitation and Bloomfield Health Care. Despite periodically practicing the skills that are part of the test starting a couple of weeks before the evaluation, things didn’t go as planned.
Both Cadbury and I were off – and we knew we didn’t do well. Paul and Sue, the evaluators, had the difficult job of confirming our worst fear that day. We failed. Both Cadbury and I felt totally dejected as we left and we spent the day moping around the house – yes, Cadbury moped, as did I.
Giving up on therapy work was not an option – at least not without a fight. It’s way too important to us. I took the feedback from Sue and Paul to heart and we re-doubled our efforts. I worked on being more consistent with Cadbury, I coached my friends on how to better interact with her to reinforce “good” habits, and we practiced, and we practiced.
Still, it wasn’t looking good – just practicing on our own. We needed more help – and joining a Level II training class, and volunteering for the Level I training class was just what we needed. 4 years previously we had participated in these 8-week classes and it was definitely time for a refresher – for both of us!
Cadbury and I got just the help we needed. And combined with support and advice from other Tails of Joy members (my thanks to all of you) and lots and lots of regular practice in all different locations across greater Hartford , I am happy to report that on February 4th, we had a GREAT day – WE PASSED!
I share my story as a cautionary “tale” (or should I say “tail”) to other members of Tails of Joy. As the leader of the pet partner team, it’s my responsibility to be the “leader”. I do that by each and every day reinforcing the skills needed in our therapy work - expecting the best from both of us and not accepting less. And, in two years from now, I am planning to have another GREAT day.