As students and staff in my school district deal with the effects of COVID-19 and social distancing, those who have enjoyed seeing Rita around school in the past now can “visit” with Rita via her very own Google Classroom, called Rita’s Barkroom. During this time it can be helpful to keep established connections (or make new ones) for those who don’t have access to this type of “therapy” at home.
Rita’s Barkroom has photos and videos of Rita posted daily, keeping a positive and upbeat tone. Rita’s Barkroom will hopefully help students and staff stay connected with Rita, bring a smile to others’ faces, and offer the benefits of therapy dog visits to the greatest extent possible right now.
Rita’s Barkroom is private and only able to be viewed by staff and students of my school district.
Margarita’s Lymphoma case and how it was “accidentally” discovered was very unique. BluePearl, owner of VSEC, contacted me to see if they could feature Margarita in their newsletter, and of course, we said yes. Below is the story published by BluePearl:
Last January, the Beadlings woke up to what would later lead them to a life-changing discovery: Margarita’s canine lymphoma.
LEVITTOWN, Pa. – On the night of January 7, Jenny and Brian Beadling were suddenly woken up by their beloved English Pointer, Margarita (Rita). Rita was pacing anxiously around the bedroom, urinating uncontrollably, and refused to eat. Worried by this unusual behavior, Jenny called their veterinarian the next morning and made an appointment for that evening.
Dr. Helen E. Campbell, veterinarian and owner of Old York Veterinary Hospital, examined Rita and ordered an ultrasound and bloodwork. Results showed that Rita had a 2.5 cm splenic mass and was anemic. Realizing that the symptoms may be caused by something more, Dr. Campbell referred Jenny and Brian to Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Levittown, Pa.
After consulting with a radiologist and an internal medicine specialist at VSEC, Jenny and Brian met with VSEC veterinary surgeon, Dr. Jennifer MacLeod. Dr. MacLeod reviewed the case and recommended that Rita undergo exploratory surgery to remove her spleen, and have a biopsy of her liver and intestines.
“Unlike children, pets can’t tell you where it hurts, or how they’re feeling, so that makes our job as parents and the veterinarian’s job very difficult,” explained Jenny. “In Rita’s case, we had to rely solely on observed behavior and diagnostic testing. Although Brian and I were worried about the procedures, we were hopeful that the results would bring us closer to a diagnoses.”
To Jenny and Brian’s disappointment, malignant cells were found in Rita’s spleen and on March 13, she was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. At this time, Rita was also diagnosed with chronic hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
“Brian and I were in disbelief when we were informed of her diagnosis,” Jenny noted. “But we knew that she was in really good hands. Not only did Rita’s medical team take time to answer all of our questions, but with each response, we felt more confident, empowered, and mentally prepared to assist our fur-child in fighting the most difficult battle of her life.”
To improve Rita’s overall health and make her better equipped to handle cancer treatment, Dr. Campbell prescribed her steroids and put her on a specific diet aimed to treat canine IBD.
Once Rita was ready to begin cancer treatment, the Beadling’s were again referred to see a specialist at VSEC. This time it was oncologist, Dr. Rebecca Risbon. Dr. Risbon explained Rita’s diagnoses of Stage IV/A Lymphoma and recommended chemotherapy.
“The duration of the treatment depended on the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and how responsive Rita would be to the treatment,” said Dr. Risbon. “Working closely with Jenny’s veterinarian, we determined the best plan for Rita, which, in addition to the chemotherapy, included additional exams and tests such as blood work and ultrasounds to monitor her overall health and cancer status,” Dr. Risbon explained. “Any changes in Rita’s eating, drinking, or elimination habits, signs of illness, or changes in behavior are relayed from Jenny to her veterinarian, and then onto myself. It’s a necessary partnership that leads to better patient care and outcomes.”
Today, Rita is on her final weeks of chemotherapy. As a reward after her weekly appointments, Jenny treats Rita to a “cheat day,” which has included licks of a Rita’s peanut butter milkshake, bites of a Taco Bell cheesy roll up, and nibbles of a Wendy’s cheese burger.
By working collaboratively, Dr. Campbell and VSEC specialists got to the root of Rita’s unusual symptoms, and developed a customized treatment plan that they hope will extend Rita and the Beadling’s time together.
“Brian and I are grateful to have had such an amazing medical team to educate and guide us through this difficult process,” Jenny expressed. “As Margarita approaches the home-stretch of her chemotherapy plan, we are hopeful that her future will not only bring us many more occasions to spoil our fury kid, but also open up opportunities for her as a registered Therapy Dog to comfort and inspire others experiencing similar challenges.”
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Margarita had her “first day at college” with a great visit at Rowan College at Burlington County meeting students and staff in the Student Success Center for their Mental Health Week event, while she helped enlighten them on the positive benefits therapy dogs provide for students with depression and anxiety!
The event was sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa Chi lota Chapter and RCBC Student Support.
The first full week of October focused on increasing understanding of what mental illness feels like, so others can learn more about the wide range of symptoms experienced by those living with a mental illness.
In addition, the purpose of this week was to also reduce the misunderstanding and stigma associated with mental health conditions.
SHAMONG — About 20 pairs of eyes widened and a few shouts of excitement rang out as two four-legged visitors took over Linda Newman’s first-grade class Tuesday at the Indian Mills Elementary School.
“I want to pet them! I love dogs!” the students said in chorus.
Robyn Klim, the district’s director of pupil services, asked the students to quiet down and gather in a circle as she led her dog, Lena, a 3-year-old Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix, to the center of the room. Following behind was Jen Beadling, a middle school teacher with her dog, Rita, a 7-year-old English pointer.
The two dogs were recently trained and certified as therapy dogs and were part of a new districtwide initiative to support student success.
“Our goal of the program is to provide students with the support, encouragement and friendship of a nonjudgmental therapy dog,” Klim said. “Research shows that a relationship with a therapy dog allows students to be more successful in school and the community.”
The goal of having the dogs in the school is to help alleviate stress and help students focus, Klim said. For example, the dogs could come into the guided reading exercises and help students who are struggling with reading stay on task. The dogs have already visited one class where students were taking a test, Klim said, and they were allowed to pet the dogs to help stay calm and chase away any nerves.
The program began at the school earlier this month as a way to build skills and confidence for the students.
Each of the classes will get an introduction lesson, just like Newman’s class received Tuesday, before the dogs will be brought back for other activities. Klim said that Rita had already made her second trip back to a middle school class who had the opportunity to pet her while taking a test.
The plan is to continue to expand into next year, to allow all classrooms to sign up for about one visit a quarter. Teachers will be able to go into the “The Bark Room,” and sign up for a visit.
As the program expands, teachers can match their lessons to incorporate the dogs.
Both Klim and Beadling were getting their dogs trained as therapy dogs for different purposes when they started discussing it with each other.
“Wouldn’t this be awesome to do for our school district?” Klim said.
From there, Klim worked with Superintendent Christine Vespe to set up a board policy allowing the animals to visit during the day as well as secured insurance.
The dogs will be accompanied by Klim and Beadling at all times that they are in the school. Students who do not want to participate or parents who do not want their children to participate will have the opportunity to opt-out of the program, Klim said.
So far, however, Vespe said not one student in the district has opted out.
Excitement filled the room Tuesday as the students got to interact with the dogs and learn about them. Beadling told the students how she rescued Rita last year, while Klim discussed how she adopted Lena about two years ago.
“I love you Lena,” Keegan O’Brien, 7, said as the dogs were walking around the circle.
Still, he said Rita was his favorite dog that he had met.
“I really like Rita cause there’s a girl named Rita in Power Rangers,” he said with a smile.
For Klim and Beadling, seeing the students smiles and positive reactions has made the program worth it.
“I think it’s very exciting for the kids to have exposure to therapy dogs (and) learn about them,” Beadling said.
Klim said teachers are starting to use the dogs as a motivation tactic for the students.
“I think that (Lena) is motivating our students,” she said. “She’s providing positive rewards for our children.”
Those of you who have been following along know that Rita became a registered Therapy Dog. My school district decided to start a Therapy Dog program, and Rita was one of the first dogs starting the program!
My students were super-excited! They made welcome signs, and we marked the calendar for her first day of school!
Students created posters and centimeter cube formations to welcome Rita to our class:
Ready for her first day of school with her Paw Patrol backpack!
Rita did very well with the kids, and the students enjoyed having Rita by their side as they practiced multiplication facts.
Rita was quite exhausted after her first day with the students, and napped her way through my Prep period.
Rita’s first day was a success – what a great program this will be for the students!
Not long after Margarita and I passed our test to become a registered Therapy Dog Team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, I learned about a great program called R.E.A.D.(Reading Education Assistance Dogs). I decided this would be an excellent opportunity for us, so I began to study for the written test. One day before Margarita’s 1st Gotcha Day / 7th-ish Birthday, we received the great news that I passed, and we are now officially a registered R.E.A.D. team!
“The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered therapy teams as “literacy mentors.”
The Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to an animal. But not just any animal. R.E.A.D. companions are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.
R.E.A.D. is the first and foremost program that utilizes therapy animals to help kids improve their reading and communication skills and also teaches them to love books and reading. It’s been growing around the world since November of 1999 when ITA launched it here in Salt Lake City. More than 3,500 therapy teams have trained and registered with the program and are going strong!
Today, thousands of registered R.E.A.D. teams work throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Norway and beyond. “
Evesham Library offers a monthly “Wagging Tales” event where children come to the Library to read to Therapy Dogs. Margarita is now a part of this awesome program which aims to help children boost their confidence and increase their communication and literary skills while reading to a registered Therapy Dog.
Those of you following along may remember that Margarita and I took a Therapy Dog Workshopin preparation for taking our Therapy Dog test. I am proud to announce that Margarita and I passed the 4-part test to become a registered team with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs!
Margarita has already visited an assisted living home, a medical facility, and also participated in a local library’s children’s reading program!
Interested in becoming a registered therapy dog team with The Alliance of Therapy Dogs? Click HERE on how to become a member, find a test/observer in your area, and view a test example.
We are excited to announce our new partnership with Undone Watches! Undone Watches allows you to create a unique watch that reflects your individuality. Each watch is a unique message! Visit them today to design yours!
Our personalized watches:
Back of our watch:
Suits and collars:
Individuality at its finest… haha!Be sure to visit Undone Watches, and tell them The Liver Killers at Cello’s Corner sent you!
The Liver Killers are proud to announce that we are now sponsored by Ken Tidy Photography ! Ken Tidy has long been known as one of the most talented photographers in our area, capturing stunning action-packed images that truly express each dog’s individual personality. His images have been shared across the DockDogs world, and we are truly honored that Ken has chosen our fur-kids to represent his amazing work. We super excited about this sponsorship! Be sure to check out some of Ken’s amazing photography, and schedule a session with him to capture YOUR pup!
Each Thursday during June through October, The Old Oar House Irish Pub hosts a “Doggie Date Night, ” where dogs are welcomed to join you as you dine in their outdoor seating area. A portion of the proceeds from your food bill goes to the Cumberland County SPCA. This particular Doggie Date Night was a very special (and rainy!) one… Margarita and her heart-throb and fellow English Pointer, Mr. Spock, helped out the Cumberland County SPCA, and got engaged!
Margarita got Mr. Spock some special engagement gifts!
And Mr. Spock had a good friend make Margarita the most perfect and beautiful engagement necklace!
There were lots of party decorations and favors!
All our 4-legged friends go dressed up for the PAWty!
And lots of people and pups came to the PAWty even though it was raining – I bet you they came for this yummy homemade cake!
Margarita showing off her new necklace:
The happy couple enjoying some of their engagement cake together:
What a fun night with good food, friends and pups! Best of all, we were able to help out the Cumberland County SPCA!
Rita and I ran our first 5K together through a site called Virtual Strides. Virtual Strides provides an opportunity to participate in a virtual race (which can be run or walked!) anytime — anywhere– with whoever your want — and even indoors on a treadmill! Once you register for one of the virtual races, you can complete the distance any time and anywhere, and upload your finish time to the website. Virtual Strides will mail you a finisher’s medal after you upload your results, or at the end of the race period, whichever comes first. The best part is that a portion of the race’s proceeds gets donated to charity!
Rita and I ran the “Run Free” race.
This race benefited the National Mill Dog Rescue. National Mill Dog Rescue has pledged to put an end to the puppy mill industry, and has saved more than 10,000 dogs since 2007. National Mill Dog Rescue hopes to educate the public to acquire their companion animals through reputable breeders, shelters, and rescue groups.
Once you register, you can download a running bib:
Rita did GREAT! This was the first time I ever ran without music (running with music has been a MUST for me). I wanted to be sure I could hear everything around us in order to protect Margarita in case there was a loose dog, etc. I have to say – talking to Rita through the run was way more motivational than any music!
Our finishing time was 40 minutes, 25 seconds. Not bad considering Margarita decided she’d stop 3 times for potty breaks, TWO of which needed to be bagged-up, if you know what I mean!
I submitted our results, and a few days later, the race medal arrived in the mail!
Rita’s first official medal! She now has a spot of her own, among her siblings, on the “Wall of Fame” in our bar room.
Margarita learned how to balance on a paddle board! Why is this such an accomplishment? Due to her past, Rita is extremely fearful of any object that looks like a long stick/pole. She has a severed spleen as a result of blunt-force trauma, so we need to be very careful when handling objects WE take for granted, such as brooms, mops, vacuum cleaner extensions, and since we live on a lake… paddles!
We started with no paddle… Then introduced the paddle slowly- first just laying it on the board… then moving it around, then gradually picking it up. We got to the point where I could paddle – switching to either side- and she was fine with it. We will continue to work with her on the paddle board …and hopefully we will be able to fully stand up with her on the board sometime soon!