Senior Consultant Volunteers-eThe Senior Client Services group in the Behavior & Training Department offers special programs for seniors in Marin. These programs include small, individually-tailored dog training classes, with just four senior clients and their dogs. They receive personalized attention from two trainers during a four-week series. The other popular program is our in-home behavior consultations.

Betsy McGee, Eileen Mowatt, Pat Compton and Rosemary Olivera rarely know exactly what to expect when they go out on a Senior Services Home Consult. Sure, there are some common themes like housetraining, jumping up, pulling on the leash or barking at other dogs. However, these issues are sometimes amplified by the guardians’ physical limitations or by the sheer length of time the problems have been in play.

For instance, earlier this year, Richard’s wife of more than 50 years passed away. His canine companion, Buddy, adopted from the Marin Humane Society five years ago, gave him great comfort. After Richard decided he needed some assistance with his day-to-day living needs, he found a caregiver who came to live with him. His caregiver contacted the Marin Humane Society when she discovered that Buddy had been using several indoor spaces in Robert’s home as his bathroom for a very long time.

Two MHS behavior consultants visited Robert, Buddy and his caregiver to learn more about the situation. It turned out that Buddy had become accustomed to urinating on the carpet in the upstairs bedroom, in a corner of the living room, and near the kitchen door to the outside patio. Robert’s caregiver had pulled up the carpet in the kitchen, only to reveal a buckled hardwood floor beneath. The behavior consultants suggested some tools and management and training tips to help Buddy change his habits before new flooring materials were installed.

Another client, Sam, indicated on his pre-appointment paperwork that his problem was very large so “no wimps allowed” at the consult. He had limited mobility and spent most of his time (even sleeping) in the living room with three Newfoundland dogs! We were told that one of them was “wild and might knock us (B&T Team) over,” one had a heart condition, he was unable to walk any of them, and that two of the dogs were inseparable. He hadn’t quite intended to end up with three dogs over 100 lbs., but sometimes life throws some strange curve balls. Sam wanted Betsy and Eileen to help him make life better for his dogs. He’d actually had been doing an amazing job with his limited resources, but Betsy and Eileen gave him some additional ideas.

Kudos to the B&T Volunteer Senior Services team for making life better for seniors and people with disabilities one class or house call at a time!

By Dawn Kovell, director of behavior & training