January 27, 2008

Reach Out - Your Paws Can Touch Someone Too

When I told a friend last week I was going to attend an Animal Assisted Therapy session, my pal in his normal 'selective hearing mode' (hey, everyone utilizes that feature!) only heard I was going to therapy. "Guido you ARE therapy for us! What do YOU need therapy for?" he asked me in a big-time bewildered tone. With his whiskers wiggling and his eyes feline-frozen as if he was staring down a robust robin on a backyard tree limb, I explained to him that I didn't go for therapy, but my 4 paws and I went for the 1st interview in the Assisted Animal Therapy program at the San Francisco SPCA - yep, that's where I came from and my smitten kitten self wants to give back to others in a meowvalous manner. I opted for this great program as I didn't think I'd ever get into the Hearing Animal Program they offer - I don't often listen! Now let's cat chat about the interview process -first I had to read about the Program and when I saw it can reduce stress reduction I was ready to sign up! Oh Catzowey, they mean that's a benefit for the person I'm visiting in a hospital or senior center.

Then the Director wanted me to walk around the meeting room to see if anything spooked me. Hey, I'm Guido the Italian Kitty , doesn't everyone know I'm the mellow meowster? Time for a cat-confessional moment: I would have given up my afternoon catnap to skid around on those big Tom Cat sized blue prints, but some warm hands scooped me up before I had a chance to explore more.

These weren't just any hands, these were the talented caring paws of the Animal Assisted Therapy program Director (Can you keep a secret? She made me purr!) Tossing me around and stretching me from stripe to stripe, I passed the Temperament test - she's never seen me when my pesto pizza is taken up from my dinner bowl before I'm finished! That's the true test of my Italian Kitty temperament!

I have a lot of work to do in the program and once I graduate, you'll see me out and about in my new kitty couture: yep I'm going to wear a vest that tells the world I'm a certified San Francisco SPCA Animal Assisted Therapy cat and I hope it's sustainable fabric as I'm an Envirocat. Catzowey, with my Official vest decking out my bountiful bod, I'll even be able to ride the bus for free or drop into my favorite sushi restaurant-they always hold the rice for me! Most important is I'll be sharing my whiskers and pawsatively great catitude with kids and adults who just aren't as lucky as me.

If you want to make a pawsative difference, have your paws reach out too!

Ciao & Meow,
GUIDO - The Italian Kitty

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