February 21, 2018

Posted by on Oct 13, 2023

February 21, 2018 Outreach Visit to UMD Kirby Student Center 11:00AM-1:00PM Beth and I were excited to be invited back to another UMD PAWS Event. A big snowstorm the day before did not stop us. It did however make it very slippery for Beth and I and the minis walking on the shady UMD sidewalks where the sun could not melt the ice.

So once again I came early to help Beth clean stalls and get ranch work done. We needed to have the minis loaded and be off by 10:00AM. Things ran smoothly. We kept to our time schedule. We were worried a bit that the minis might be sore due to dental work Monday. The dentist said the anesthesia would be out of their bodies by Wednesday, the day of this event. She gave her approval for the minis to attend. Again UMD was very accommodating. They gave us the same parking spot as last time.

Beth took Gracie down the elevator to the Kirby Center. Then it was my turn. When the elevator door opened it was full of people going up to the third floor. I pushed the down button again. Of course, while Maggie and I waited for the next time the elevator door would open, a crowd gathered. The elevator door opened once more but inside was a professor with a cart. The look on his face was one of surprise. He said, “I cannot believe what I am seeing.” He pushed his cart out of the elevator. He petted Maggie as he asked questions. Then he looked around, “I am on the wrong floor.” He pushed the elevator button and went back into the elevator with his cart. Maggie and I could not fit. For the third time I pushed the elevator button. All this time students surrounded Maggie. When the elevator door opened I told the students Maggie and I had to go downstairs. We got into the elevator. Instead of going down we went up. The door opened to the third floor. Maggie knew the routine to step out to a waiting crowd of her FANS but I had to hold her back. Maggie and I never get tired of the different facial expressions, laughter, smiles, and wonderment of the surprised people seeing a mini horse in an elevator. I told the people we were on the wrong floor. We needed to go down to one. People were very nice and let me shut the door. Maggie understood as well. We went with a bit more speed of a nonstop elevator going down 3 floors. I was prepared for the bit of lift as the elevator stopped but this was Maggie’s first time. She tensed up, shook her head, and looked at me. I gave her verbal reassurance and a treat for keeping her composure. The doors opened. Maggie stepped out.

Beth wondered what took us so long. She was relieved to see us. Just as Gracie and Beth were surrounded by people, Maggie became surrounded too at first but with dogs. Owners complimented Maggie on how she remained calm and stood so still. She had at least 6 dogs of all shapes and sizes come over to sniff her. She put her nose to each one. People and the dog owners were amazed that she was very interactive with them. They must have told other PAWS dog owners because more came, using Maggie to desensitize their dogs. Some dogs barked. Some growled. Some just could not get enough of nosing Maggie. Again our training with her paid off. Maggie stood rock steady. Students also remarked how calm Maggie was. Many could not believe they could pet her. Lots of good questions were asked. How did we get her so clean? How come she just stands there? Why does she not seem bothered by all this noise? What is her breed? Can I take a picture of her? Does she feel the cold snow on her hooves standing in the snow? Why is her coat so thick? One student who had never touched a horse stated, “She is so small. It makes it less frightening to come up to pet her.”

One guy, who remembered Maggie from our last month’s visit, asked Maggie if she remembered him. Again it is so much fun to hear the one sided conversations over the phone of a person who is so excited that they have to call someone to tell them, “There is a horse down here. Yes there is. In fact there are 2 horses in the building. I am not kidding. Come and see for yourself.” I could tell that Maggie was still sore from the dental work when people tried to pet her face. I explained the dental visit she had Monday which led to lots of questions why a horse needs dentistry. People followed my lead when I asked them to pet her just on her back. Most people did as I requested but a few could not resist her cute face and nose and the softest lips. After 45 minutes, I signaled to Beth that the minis needed a break.

We went to the van. During the 15 minute break, Gracie pooped in the front of the van by the cage separating us from them, and Maggie pooped in the back by the shut doors. Beth and I were happy. We thought both peed too. Then we went down for another 45 minutes. The PAWS program has a special place where the pets can be petted. There is a door to the outside for the dogs to take a break and do their business. We were told we could bring the minis out there to poop and pee but our minis have been trained to poop and pee upon request on sawdust. The sawdust is in the van with peace and quiet. That door out on the snow would not work for us although it would make it easier for us. Gracie was a star. She stood so still for the whole event. During the second half of the event, Maggie got antsy after 30 minutes. My first reaction was to try to reassure her.

That did not work so we went for a short walk to get out that energy. Maggie continued to be antsy. I walked over to Beth, telling her that Maggie had had enough petting. We took the minis to the van. As soon as Maggie got into the van, she peed up a storm. I realized that was what she had been telling me in the only way she could. Thank goodness I was in tune to her behavior, just knowing that something was bothering her and we needed to leave. I was very proud of her for holding it on the wait for the elevator, the walk out to the van, and the unlading of the ramp. Maggie and I learn a lot at each outing, making us a better therapy team. I realize how smart Maggie is and to trust what her body language is telling me.

I learned not to get upset when her actions are not what I expect but that there is a reason for it and it is my job to find that reason. I also learned that she really tried to hold her pee. She knew the difference between work and play. Maggie is learning that I am getting better at being in tune with what her body language is telling me, that I will intervene when necessary to keep her safe, and that her needs come first over the event. As we drove away, Beth and I thanked the minis for giving us a very enjoyable, wonderful, accident free visit. Once again we were shamelessly giddy. We decided to celebrate by getting tea at Caribou and turkey bacon spinach wraps at Subway. The minis got to snack on fresh hay. Later that night, Beth texted me at 9PM that she had seen Maggie on TV. She texted me again the next morning that Maggie was on TV again. The PAWS event was on several channels. Beth also called me again to tell me that Gracie was also on TV, a cute shot of her in the elevator.