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Lend A Paw Therapy Dog Cali Visiting With Developmentally Disabled Adults At New Horizons

Photographed February 8, 2012 in North Hills, CA

© Lydia Marcus Photography / /


On Wednesday, February 8, 2012, Cali and I experienced our second therapy visit with Lend A Paw. We spent lunchtime with developmentally disabled adults at New Horizons in North Hills, CA. New Horizons is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping adults with developmental disabilities reach their potential and fulfill their dreams. New Horizons provides job training and placement, education, counseling, residential services, and social programs for adults age 18 and older.


The hour was a whirlwind of questions regarding me and Cali.


What's the dog's name? "Cali."

Is it a he or a she? "She."

How old is she? "Two, she'll be three in March."

What's her birthday? "I don't know exactly."

What's your name? "Lydia."

What's your birthday? "February 27."

What's your Mother's name? "Beverly"

What's her birthday? "November 30, 1931."

(One of the ladies that was asking about the birthdays told me that my birthday was two weeks from Monday and that the year of my Mom's birth that the Cab Calloway song "Minnie The Moocher" was on the charts - she was right on both counts (I had to look up wikipedia about the song).

Does Cali eat Candy? "No, she eats dog treats. I have some with me, would you like to give her a treat?"

Can I smell your hair? "No"

Why not? "Because that's a personal boundary I have"

Can I see your eyes? "Yes (I take off my sunglasses)."

Can you make this sound (one lady was big on asking me to repeat sounds she was doing)? "No, you're doing it well enough for both of us."

Is that magic? (regarding some of Cali's tricks). "No, I taught her how to do that."


I made an assortment of mini Valentine's Day cards to hand out. There were 6 different images of Cali. Each card had a photo of Cali on the front and handwritten on the back was "Be My Valentine xoxo Cali". Many people asked Cali to shake. I showed them that instead of shaking, she does "high five". I also showed her doing "leave it" with both a treat and her ball, and "take it" allowing her to eat the treat or take the ball. She also showed off "beg", "up" (to jump up on a planter where you could also sit) and to stand up and put her paws on my chest, "sit", left and right "flips" where she leaps in a circle, "stay" so she could pose for photos with people, and "catch" and "drop" with her tennis ball. The residents really enjoyed throwing her the ball and they told me their favorite trick was Cali's flips.


At one point when I felt like Cali needed a little break to reconnect with me and not have to focus on all the people, I had her stand up with her paws on my chest and I gave her a hug and a kiss. Four of the New Horizons people surrounded us and each stuck their head in for a kiss from Cali. One by one, she gave each a kiss. This was my favorite moment of the visit and I sure wish I had it on video or photo. Cali is not an overly kissy dog, so I wasn't sure if each person would get their kiss, but she did not disappoint any of them! - Lydia Marcus


Lydia Marcus is the owner of Lydia Marcus Photography ( and Zen Pet Pix (

Photographing dogs is her most favorite thing to do. Lydia adopted Cali (a black labrador / border collie mix) from Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue in 2009 when Cali was 4 months old. They became a certified therapy dog team with Lend A Paw in the Summer of 2011.


For information on the Lend A Paw program and therapy dogs go to

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Taken on February 8, 2012