April 04, 2017

Teaming up with Monica

I am so tired of driving! I never used to mind driving very much; probably because I don't have a regular commute or anything, so I don't spend long amounts of time in the car very often. But the last three months, I feel like all I've been doing is driving! And it's "driving" me crazy ;)

I've already put nearly 5,000 miles on my car this year, which is much more than ever before. The average American female of my age would have driven about 2,866 miles at this point (yes, I looked it up, because I was curious). We've just had so many appointments for various things this year, and I've been driving to Detroit, Toledo, and Ann Arbor quite a bit. With all of the construction going on in Detroit and Toledo, I'm spending a lot of time driving.

Anyway, yesterday I had a therapy appointment, and it was a very productive one. We worked on a self-esteem issue I've been having for years, and I felt like a huge weight was lifted when I left the office.

Without getting too specific or personal on here, I had basically been focusing on all of the things I wasn't doing in one particular area of my life, instead of looking at all the things I am doing. My therapist helped me to flip that mentality, and I feel much better about it!

I also talked with her about something I'd been thinking about for a long time, but only recently started researching--getting Monica and I registered as a Pet Partners team.

When we fostered Monica last June, I knew there was a good chance we'd end up adopting her. We fell in love with her because she is such a loving cat! She ADORES being petted and held, and it's almost annoying in a way--when you stop petting her, she taps her paw against your arm or hand until you pet her some more. She just loves it!

She's also not "touchy" in the way a lot of cats are when they are done being held or petted--when Estelle has had enough, for example, she gives a few warning signs to back off. If you don't, then she may bite your hand (not enough to draw blood, but as a way to say, "Hey! Stop petting me!"). Monica is never really "done" being petted--she would sit there all day long if you continued to stroke her, haha. But, at worst, she would just turn and walk away if she was done.

This got me thinking about how she would make a great therapy cat. Pet Partners is a non-profit that registers handlers and pets as therapy teams who can then interact with all sorts of people in settings such as nursing homes and group homes. When Mark was alive, he would frequently talk about taking care of the animals at his group home--they had some farm animals there, and it was the mens' job to care for them. Mark took a lot of pride in that.

Anyway, as I learned from attending Purina's Better With Pets summit for the last few years, pets and people can do great things together. And pets are fantastic therapy for people with PTSD, Alzheimer's, intellectual disabilities like the men in Mark's group home, people approaching end of life, etc.

Going by myself to a nursing home to visit with strangers would be very hard for me, because of my shyness--but if I had Monica with me, I would feel more comfortable because she is a nice ice breaker. So, I think it would be a win for everybody--me, for stepping out of my comfort zone and helping others; Monica, because she will get lots of attention; and the people we visit, because Monica will love all over them :)

The registration process may take a while, especially with everything else I have going on right now, but I think it's worth doing. I just have to take an online course, have Monica approved by the vet, and have an evaluation. I think Monica is perfect for the program, so I'm kind of looking forward to it!

Tonight, we're going (along with my parents and Nathan) to Brian and Becky's for dinner and to visit with Luke! I knew I would love being an aunt, but I never realized just how much--it's so nice to get a "baby fix" every time I see him.

Nathan just finished remodeling his bathroom (he and Brian did the work themselves) and it looks fantastic! I don't have a final photo of his bathroom yet, but this is a picture from a few weeks ago, when he was almost done with it (obviously, the toilet is not in the shower, haha).

My mom had the idea to give Nathan a "shower"--to buy him some bathroom accessories for the finishing touches. My mom, Jeanie, Becky, and I pitched in, and my mom and I went shopping last night. We put together a nice basket of stuff for him. (He doesn't know about it, so I hope he likes it!)

Art, rugs, towels, waste basket, valance, etc. We're going to give it to him at Brian's house tonight. It should be a fun evening!


  1. What a sweet gesture to have Monica registered! Our cat Scamp doesn't like to be held much and she also "bites" without hurting to indicate that she wants to be left alone. Funny thing though is she also bites when she wants you to play with her. Go figure!

  2. Monica is so beautiful! How sweet that a rescue can help others. Good luck with her certification as a therapy cat. I also drive A LOT in traffic in the LA areas and have found that podcasts (Serial for one) and audio books really help take the stress off driving. They really help me relax and not focus on the frustration of stop and go and bad bad drivers.:)

  3. I'm thrilled that you will be joining the Pet Partners community! My dog and I are a team, and we love our "work"---sounds like Monica has a real aptitude for it, and folks will sure love having her visit. Please let me know if I can help you in any way as you prepare for your evaluation. The most important thing to remember is that YOU are your pet's best advocate--- As long as you look out for Monica, and pay attention to her behavior and her needs, you'll do great.

  4. Joining as Pet Partners sounds like a fantastic idea. My husband used to work in the nursing homes and the residents would love it when some one would bring a therapy pet in. Good luck on the certification. And the bathroom looks fabulous!

  5. Being an aunt is the best! You get all the fun parts (and spoiling) with barely any of the discipline. Enjoy!

  6. I think that pet therapy thing with Monica and the nursing homes sounds great...I have been wanting to "hang" at nursing homes ever since I read "Resisting Happiness".....it talks about a guy who would bring in a box of chocolates and ask the receptionist who gets the least visitors....he would then visit them and offer a piece of chocolate as the "ice breaker"...

    The residents loved the treat and the conversation!!

    I may check into that this summer for the kids and I actually. ;-)

  7. I adopted a cat last year that sounds so similar to Monica. I've had cats all my life but never one that craves attention like this. She too would let you hold and per her all day. In fact, I have to be careful because several times I have stopped petting her and walked away to fold clothes or make dinner and she will climb on to something nearby and try to jump into my arms, even if I'm not looking!! That doesn't always end well if her jump is bad....claws!!

  8. Thanks for sharing with us about your therapy appointment. And hooray for getting your mentality flipped!

    What a fun idea, the shower basket.

    I am so impatient to meet my brand new nephew in a week and a half!

  9. What an awesome idea! I remember a friend and I taking puppies to our local nursing home several times, when we were kids. The residents loved visiting with us, and seeing the puppies, and we had fun, too!

  10. A friendly therapy kitty that loves to be pet endlessly is the sweetest thing ever. :)

  11. Aww creative idea on the "shower" gift!

    My mom took her cat in to the nursing home she worked for years. The residents loved it and so did our cat. I would bring my rabbit. He was a large (15+ lb) brown/white giant lop with no back claws and he made the perfect day brightener! Just seeing him hop around would make them smile! But getting the chance to pet his floppy ears was the absolute best!

    Good luck!


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