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From: Callie (76.5.37.242)
Subject:         You never know what's going to happen on pet therapy
Date: June 7, 2008 at 9:01 am PST

We go to Give Kids the World (http://www.gktw.org) the first Saturday of every month and have for 6 years. But wow -- this morning was unique!!

Typically we sit across from the Castle (and merry go round) and as kids and their families come up and pet the dogs we give out certificates to each child with their names on them. We have a wagon for Kee Shu so she's up high enough for the kids in wheelchairs to reach her. It's where Luna learned to 'sit' and every single time is awesome -- it is the most awesome place on the planet. David and I have said so many times, we're just so glad we never know what happens "later" -- because ... well, they have Christmas there *every* Thursday simply because many of these kids will never see another Christmas otherwise.

This morning we had two "wish" families around us ...half focused on Kee and half on Luna when suddenly, out of nowhere, a squirrel zooms up literally between everyone's feet, gets in Luna's face and STARES and then like a bolt of lightning was gone THRU everyone's feet and out the other side.

Poor Luna -- this happened at such "high speed" and it was SO completely un-wild-animal-like that by the time she realized that what was in front of her was REAL, it was gone ... however, it's a good thing David had her leash firmly (he was down on one knee as usual -- we are ultra ultra careful there so no one gets jumped on nor hurt).

Because she was so instantly in **PREDATOR** mode (of course) he literally turned and left with her to get her calmed down so she wasn't a danger to the kids.

He couldn't do it. She was so completely rattled, all she could think of was **GETTING SQUIRREL** (and ridding the world of this offensive beast who so dared 'charge' where no normal squirrel would ever ever *ever* have gone otherwise) -- we left abruptly.

She was in no fit state to be petted, and her attention was completely riveted on 'where' it had gone, etc. He tried for almost 10 minutes and just couldn't walk the angst out of her so we came home.

I've called GKTW, and reported it. This was not sane behavior for any squirrel. So unfortunately I have to wonder if it's sick, and Heaven forbid some child get bitten by a squirrel that couldn't then be located -- no family needs to go thru the pain and heartache of rabies shots!

I've played with tame squirrels before -- there was no food present, nothing that would 'lure' the squrrel -- even 'tame' ones that may be accustomed to people only approach when solidly lured by food and lots of quiet NON-dog presence. But for a squrrel to run up out of nowhere INTO a crowd of people and dogs, go nose to nose with a dog and then run away? Either it had a death wish or was sick. I can't come to any other conclusion. Thank heavens David had her solidly in hand, and thank heavens one of the kids didn't react quick to grab it.

I know a lot of you do pet therapy -- and in the zillion posts I've done about pet therapy I always stress you gotta keep your dog **UNDER CONTROL** at all times - don't relax and take your eyes off them for an instant. You have to expect the unexpected ... the kid who tries to shove a finger up your dog's nose, pulls their ears or yank on their privates, or blow into their faces ...

Be prepared for anything ... but there are those rare times, when you have to be prepared to ditch it and leave ... whatever it takes to keep the kids safe, and *prevent* your dog from doing something bad. Luna ... to her credit ... was just focused on the squirrel. She didn't get ratty with the kids for distracting her, she didn't do anything inappropriate, but boy .. the temptation was there.

I'm not trying to 'scare' anyone off from pet therapy -- but for those of us who do it --- man, you gotta expect anything! Even ... suicidal squirrels!


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