Lola and Tattletale Zeke: Author Interview and Giveaway
We wanted to know a bit more about Marcia and Lola so one of our lovely staff reviewers, Claire, conducted a comprehensive interview, which you can find below!
Claire: Tell us how you met Lola and how Lola became a certified therapy dog.
Marcia: I brought Lola home as a 10 week old puppy, weighing in at a whopping 1 1/2 lbs. All I knew was that she was adorable and we loved her sweet personality immediately! It wasn't until she was 2 1/2 that I even considered having her become a therapy dog. I knew about therapy dogs, but I didn’t know if only certain breeds were used or how one became trained and qualified. My thought was, I love my dog, I spent 30 years as a special education teacher, and if I combined the two, what better way to legitimize spending my every day with my dog?
Two questions remained: first, would Lola, a 5 pound Yorkie, qualify to become a therapy dog? And second, what was the process? Apparently, size does matter. There was initial concern that she was too small, and that a typical small dog temperament, possibly being nervous around strangers, might not be a good match. I assured those questioning that, although she was small, she didn’t know it. And she loved people - big, small, young, old, she was always happy to meet someone new. She also seemed to intuitively know when someone needed an extra lick or cuddle.
The process to achieve therapy dog status was not quick or easy. Lola had to go through two levels of obedience school, handle the Canine Good Citizenship test, and then pass the behavior screening at the final meeting. Throughout the process, Lola and I were warned that she might not be a match and to not get our hopes up. But we were both determined, and as we approached the final test, I was confident that I had a star pupil and that we would make it with flying colors. And pass we did.
Claire: When you visit classrooms with Lola, what kind of activities or lessons do you do with the children?
Marcia: Lola loves being a therapy dog. As soon as I let her know that we are going to work, she is at the back bench eager to get her scarf on and head to the car. We belong to a national organization called Share A Pet and every week we visit an elderly care facility where she cuddles in the lap of someone in a wheelchair or jumps on the bed for a little pat. On other days we visit three classrooms at an elementary school where she sits quietly while 18 different children read to her in a program called Pawsitive Reading. We also visit a classroom of preschool children on the autism spectrum and she is amazing to watch as she helps an anxious child calm down or allows a child fearful of dogs pet her for the first time.
Claire: What is your most memorable moment you've had with Lola through this training experience?
Marcia: My most memorable moment was hearing a child with autism, who doesn’t talk, speak aloud for the first time. We thought she was talking to Lola, but then realized she was talking FOR Lola, saying thank you and asking for more cookies! Just to see her bring a smile to a lonely person’s face is a wonder to behold. Just yesterday we visited an elderly woman in the Memory Care unit and when she saw Lola she broke into a beaming smile and started to talk to her. They told me she hadn't said a word for months. I know that Lola loves what she does, but the real secret here is, so do I. She may be the one doing the work, but I am the one that gets to go with her.
Claire: The pictures in the book are precious. Do Lola and Zeke enjoy getting their pictures taken or do they need a little dog bribery?
Marcia: I think they both roll their eyes when they see me reach for the camera, but they are very good sports. String cheese helps too and is my secret weapon!!
Claire: Do you have more plans for books with Lola?
Marcia: Yes, we are working on a 4th book and it is about Lola's first day of school. She is nervous about whether she will like the teacher or make new friends, but mostly about being left by her Mommy. Will she remember to come back and get me, Lola wonders??
Now that you know more about Marcia AND Lola, meet their newest book, Lola and Tattletale Zeke!