Meet Brite1 and Cupcake! We as pet owners talk about how we picked our pets out, the way they looked at us, or the breed, or their temperament could all have been reasons we chose our pets. But maybe it’s not the owner who picks the pet at all, maybe it’s the pet that picks us. In Genevive and Cupcake’s case I think that is exactly what happened.
Genevieve met Cupcake at a rescue event. There were 50 dogs at this event and Genevieve walked in knowing exactly what she was going to be taking home, or she thought she knew. Genevieve had just gone through putting down her last companion who had lived a good long doggy life and so she was looking for a young 6 month old puppy to bring home and start a new chapter with. Cupcake was 3 years old at the time and when Genevieve saw her paperwork she decided to move on because of her age. She met a few other dogs but found herself walking back past Cupcake. This time Genevieve took her out. Cupcake is a jack russell mix and looks rather like Snoopy, Genevieve was used to big dogs like golden retrievers. After deeming her to small, right back in she went. Another couple of dogs later Genevieve found herself feeling like they just weren’t going to have anything she was interested in. The search went on like this for a bit and Genevieve visited with Cupcake 4 different times, “[she was] nothing like what I was looking for, but exactly what I needed.” Who knew when these two got together that they would become such a dynamic duo, an amazing therapy team, and that Genevieve would become an overprotective dog mom.
Cupcake – originally named Kaka – had given birth to a litter of puppies back at the kill shelter she was rescued from in New Jersey. All the puppies had been adopted and she was left behind when the rescue organization found her. Even though she’s mostly jack russell, Genevieve thinks she must be mixed with something calmer and longer tailed, her “monkey tail” is much longer than most jack russells.
For being a little dog she has quite a big personality. For starters, she has her own blog! Another interesting thing about Cupcake is that she has very unusual fears. Genevieve was surprised to learn that Cupcake wasn’t afraid of the normal things dogs are usually afraid of, loud noises like thunder or fireworks. Instead, Cupcake is seriously afraid of things like ladders and golf carts. At Halloween time, Genevieve discovered Cupcake was debilitatingly afraid of pumpkins, she couldn’t get Cupcake to leave the house because of the Jack-o-Lantern her neighbor had set out. Her other neighbor had balloons out for their kid’s birthday and Cupcake refused to leave the house for 2 days. Generally though, she is very sweet and playful, “a big jumper, she can fly. Flies everywhere, flies from chair to the couch, she just flies,” Genevieve shares. Cupcake also enjoys sitting and relaxing. She’ll wake up early but let Genevieve sleep in, she’ll sit calmly and wait for her chance to go outside, “don’t rush on my account” she seems to think as she sits on the couch. “She always has this really worried look all the time” Genevieve ponders, she rarely does the doggy open mouth pant. She loves people and doesn’t bark very much, except at the mailman and the fedex worker. She loves kisses and to be held and has “no regard for personal space”. She loves to cuddle and snuggle and hug. She will curl herself into a ball and snuggle right up to Genevieve’s stomach in bed. When she can’t snuggle up with Genevieve, Cupcake will sit on her feet and lean her head against Genevieve’s knee. Cupcake is fine with other dogs and gets along but isn’t really into playing with them too much. These are all great qualities and essential for Cupcake especially because she is a therapy dog!
Genevieve had been an elementary school teacher for 35 years and enjoyed spending time writing during her summer breaks. Once she retired from teaching she was able to focus more of her time on writing and now has a couple of children’s books out. One of the books she was working on was about therapy dogs. This was what lead to them becoming the great therapy team they are today. Genevieve sat in on some screenings for research for book and couldn’t help but think to herself, “oh my god these dogs are terrible.” She knew Cupcake would do well and indeed they passed with flying colors.
Genevieve had gone home and downloaded the American Kennel Club test for Canine Good Citizens and taught Cupcake everything on the test. Of course they passed and now Cupcake is a therapy dog. She helps people smile and laugh – at the veteran’s hospital she walks around the day room in her little sun dress and they call to her to come over. Or she’ll sit in their laps as the residents ask questions about her. Cupcake has lots of outfits and loves to wear them. When she get’s dressed up she knows it’s time to work, she get’s very excited and “revved up for therapy work.”
Cupcake also takes part in Read to a Pet Night at 2 different libraries. Kid’s will sign up at school to come and read to a dog, it helps them with their reading skills by making reading fun and playful. Genevieve explains, “it’s much easier to read to a dog, it doesn’t laugh and doesn’t correct you. It’s better for a reluctant reader, and then when they are finished they can play a little.”
As Genevieve’s writing career started to take off she realized she needed some sort of online presence and for all her school author visits she would bring the kids bookmarks but she was feeling like she needed something more. That’s when she started her website, online presence and ultimately Cupcake’s blog. She figured she could put the website on the bookmarks and that way the kids could go home and learn more. She started out blogging as herself and finally realized, “god, this is so boring!” So she spun it from a different angle and it became Cupcake’s blog about life with a writer.
“I failed at blogging but she excels at blogging” says Genevieve.
Genevieve has loved her Petzi Treat Cam from the beginning. “not only do we have one but we were in the first 100 orders. I saw it on the Katie Couric talk show, they were just about to be released so I ordered it before it was released.” It was just what she and Cupcake needed. Cupcake had come from the streets and a foster home with 4 other dogs much bigger than her. They would eat all her food and bite her head if she tried to get any. So she learned to gobble her food really fast out of necessity. When she first came home with Genevieve, she would swallow her food whole and so fast that she would vomit it all up. It was clear the food was not being digested at all. Genevieve tried all kinds of things like slow feeders, which requires the dog to slow down because the bowl is built with obstacles in it forcing the dog to take its time in order to eat around the obstacle, but that didn’t work either. If Cupcake got too hungry that would also trigger her vomiting. Genevieve eventually had to switch to puppy diet strategies, a little food in the morning and a little food at night. When Genevieve left the house for a few hours she would worry terribly about Cupcake. So when she heard about Petzi she was excited, she not only could check up on her and see her but also feed her something. Now Cupcake is a good eater, even though it took a while to train her on the Treat Cam. At first she would just stare at the treats, or wait until Genevieve got home to eat them up off the floor. Now it’s her favorite part!
Even with the Petzi at home it’s still hard for Genevieve to leave Cupcake alone. Currently she has only one school which she visits once a year where she can bring Cupcake around to the classroom. The teacher, they visit is actually one of Genevieve’s former students and the kids always write a thank you card or make a gift. Genevieve is allowed to bring Cupcake back with her to pick up the card for a quick visit. Sometimes they’ll teach the children about meeting new dogs and proper ways to approach dogs they are unfamiliar with. Genevieve is working on writing more dog stories for children because then Cupcake could join her on her author visits. “I’m trying like heck to get it published,” Genevieve reports.
Genevieve never thought she would be part of a therapy dog team and having Cupcake has made her more responsible because she is so dependent on Genevieve. “I’ve never had a dog this dependent…I’m way too worried about her, I’m a paranoid nervous reck,” Genevieve admits. Her vet has advised her to stop touching Cupcake and bringing her in for everything, to just leave her alone. It’s clear to me that Cupcake knew exactly who would be taking her home that day at the rescue event, Genevieve, who would love her above and beyond.
By Roneet Rahamim