Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Indy the Pit Bull Therapy Dog, Animal Assisted Therapy, Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Way back in February 2011, my wonderful friend Rebecca Watts was contacted by her friend Elaine who wanted to know if my doggie Indy wanted to audition for a PetSmart TV commercial. They were looking for a pit bull. 
Indy was an "animal assisted therapy dog" through "Love on 4 Paws."  The dog becomes "certified" once it passes rigorous testing. Indy  passed the Delta with flying colors.
Indy-windy was THE most loving dog in this whole wide world and I guess this is how I learned not to judge a book.....

As a "team" we volunteered at many different locations. We visited kids with terminal illness and kids who had the usual scrapes and bruises and we visited the cancer patient kiddos in PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and NICU (neo-ntal intensive care unit) at CHLA.  Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Sunset Blvd.

 We visited children with horrible burns or kids getting prosthetics for missing limbs at Shriner's Childrens' Hospital.

We visited adults at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica.  I loved working with Grenda, the Director of Volunteers!! Amazing person!!  

We started out on our five year journey at Hollywood Presybetarian Hospital. 

We visited amazing kids who could only feel Indy and hear her at Florence Blend School for they were visually impaired. Despite being blind, the kids would hold onto Indy's leash and walk her. They loved walking her. And Indy would never pull. She knew what to do. She was always very gentle.

 We visited at Kaiser Permanente and yes...Promises in Malibu--the recovery center for celebrities. 

We went to different events at the OC Fair, the Special Olympics and even to Gold's Gym to have challenged kiddos play with dogs!!! Very neat stuff.

Back to the PetSmart audtion.
During the audition they asked me some questions and then they asked if Indy could roll over onto her back and have her tummy rubbed. On queue, bam, as the assistant approached Indy, she gets on her back for a belly rub!!! She 's hired!!!

The commercial was for PetSmart Charities that promotes the ADOPTION of dogs an cats from animal shelters. Would Indy do the commercial? YES YES YES. Indy, of course she said "yes."  (I think she learned the fist-pump/paw-pump "yes" from me. He hee!!) 

(Above: Y'up I'm in the video too!!)

I found Indy at an animal shelter (or we found each other) when I happened to go to Los Angeles Animal Shelter on Bundy. I adopted her immediately the day after Independence Day, 2002.  She got her name because 1) she was 'rescued' the day after INDYpendence day. 2) She got her INDYpendence from the pound. 3) It's first come, first serve at the shelter, so I was rushing like an Indy race car driver to get her. Plus, I like names of dogs that end in "eee." Like Indy.  Or Cali. Or Shiggy!!!!

Indy was really lucky to get picked for the commercial and believe it or not, they asked me to be in it to.  They asked me to do a "fitting." I did a fitting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina Del Rey and the TV commercial was shot in the Valley a couple of days later. We also had our own trailer. Fancy, huh? 

I'm sooooooooo happy to get this video. It brought back a flood of good memories as well as a flood of tears. As many of you know, Indy suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from a ruptured spleen caused by a very aggressive form of cancer on May 6th, 2011.  I've never cried this hard in my life. She didn't do anything wrong. She was here on earth to help. RIP my little girl. Your memory remains, with the addition of tons of photos and now this amazing video, forever. Thanks Rebecca and Elaine. Thanks PetSmart for the opportunity to promote the love pit bulls have. Thank you Indy for helping all the kids, families, patients and me, your buddy!!! Give your dog(s) or cat(s) a biiiiiiiig juicy hug. Whisper in their ears that you love 'em. Take more photos and videos.

To read more: Click on HERE. xoxo

 (Above is a 7 second video of
Indy, Cali-bu and  Mikan (my cat.)
For fun, I entitled the video: "Scared pit bull.
See ghost and walks backwards."
It has over a quarter of a million views.

(Above: Indy and I were featured in this documentary
movie: "American Pit Bull"

(Above: Indy's Photo ID for Hollywood Presbyterian.)
(Above: Indy's Photo ID for CHLA.) 

(Above: Indy getting some snuggles from one 
of the patients at CHLA.)

(Above: Indy getting a BIG hug from a boy
that was on one of the oncology wards.)

(Above: Indy is all smiles with a kiddo who
underwent chemotherapy.)

(Above: I don't remember this guy's name, but wow,
what a great kid. So enthusiastic for life.
After visiting the patients on my days off from work, (typically on Wednesdays,) I would go home and always count my blessings at how lucky I am to be healthy.) 

(Above: We would take Polaroid photos of the kids with Indy and give them to them. Sometimes these photos were
the only photos that the parents had with their baby before they
passed away. Perhaps this is why I wanted to be a photographer.  You are part of create something special. Something wonderful. A legacy. An heirloom of sorts that can be handed down.
A memory in time. A memory frozen in pixels.
Pre-selfie and pre-take tons of photos with
your cell phone days.)

(Above: The Love on 4 Paws crew in green shirts.
The dogs all had on their "animal assisted therapy" vests on.
"Hi John Noonan!!" Lower left!!)

(Above: Bringing some Christmas Cheer to the kids during the Holiday Season.)

 (Above: Indy and Cali-Blu!!
Two beds, yet they crammed into one!!
They loved each other. And someone 

told me "never get two girls."
Proved them wrong about that myth too.)

(Above: Indy the Big-Eared Rabbit!! hehee!)

(Above: Upside-down Indy at tamar Geller's signing 
of her new book: The Loved Dog.)

(Above: Indy and Mikan sleeping together.)

(Above: Such a girlie girl in a tutu!!)

(Above: This photo was on Indy's Kennel Card when I
found her at the Los Angeles Animal Shelter on Bundy.
She looks sad, dejected, lonely, frightened and knows 
that if she doesn't get adopted that she will be
euthanized. Standard back in 2002.
Many dogs have a six sense when they go into the pound, 
that they'll never get out. So if you ever go to the animal
shelter to look for your forever dog, please give
him/her a chance.  The floors are usually cold.
The facilities are understaffed. The air smells. It's a frickin' cage
that they are in.  Don't judge a book by its cover.
Look at the photo below.) 

 (Above: The most beautiful dog in the whole wide world.
One of the photos that I best remember Indy-windy

the pit bull, animal assisted therapy dog.
Love, love, lovely. )

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