Sunday, October 28, 2018

Training, Evaluation, Cake, & Blessings

Vincent and Xavier with a cake

This summer has been great! Training a therapy rat in the hot months definitely has its drawbacks, but we made it. Time for cooler weather and rat burritos!

June & July

We really didn't do much these months in terms of public events. We did a lot of basket training and I decided that Vincent would be better suited for therapy work. Xavier is a wonderfully smart rat, but he started a bad habit of wanting to check out other people's mouths (a.k.a. rodentistry) and that was not going to work. Just like Herbie the elf, Xavier wants to be a dentist!

Xavier in a basket
"Why am I such a misfit? JK, I'm the best rodentist around!" -Xavier

Rat Life Magazine Article

Rat Life Magazine Summer 2018

We had a little interview with Rat Life Magazine! It is really fun to answer frequently asked questions and inform others about what we do.


R.E.A.D. Training

During Oliver's last month with us, we participated in the Read with Me program with Pet Partners. We went to a library and a kid would read to Oliver. This helps with their confidence in reading. I really wanted to continue doing this with Vincent, so I went to a workshop for a similar program called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs).

Vincent the therapy rat with our R.E.A.D. certificate

It was very informative and gave me tons of ideas on how to make this program work for therapy rats and their handlers. Because of Vincent's excellent basket skills, I think this would be a good fit for him since he would have to sit and listen to a child reading to him for 20 minutes at a time. This could also be a regular gig for him since we could meet every week. I'm always looking at how we can increase his impact and Reading with Rats could be the next thing.

Vincent the therapy rat reading a book
"Would you read with me?"


We popped in during an event hosted by TigerFlight, which is a non-profit where pilots take kids up in planes and My Summit Quest, which is an organization that provides events for families and kids affected by cancer. Vincent was unfazed by the planes and enjoyed meeting new people!

Training in Cartersville

Vincent and I tagged along with some family members to attend an outdoor concert in Cartersville, Georgia. We had some early dinner at Ate Track Bar and Grill where Vincent enjoyed some homemade potato chips on their outdoor patio.

Vincent the therapy rat eating at Ate Track Bar and Grill

We were extremely close (like within 10 feet) of the live band and this experience did let me see what Vincent is like under stress. It was humid, loud, not a good environment. Vincent tried to get up on my shoulders (which is totally fine for a little break), would hide his face in my arms like Oliver, and if I had my diaper bag in my lap he would try getting into that. After not seeing any improvement with a few breaks in my hair, I went back to our car and we chilled out. We came out a little while later, but I really didn't want to push it. 
So, it was a learning experience for sure. 


Pet Parade in Sandy Springs
We decided to head over to Sandy Springs, Georgia to participate in their annual pet costume contest that is part of the Sandy Springs Festival. Vincent did really well despite it being pretty warm. We didn't win any prizes, but we brought a lot of smiles!

Vincent the therapy rat in a pumpkin basket in Sandy Springs


It's a Rat's World Magazine Article

It's a Rat's World Magazine October 2018

We were honored to be interviewed by It's a Rat's World Magazine! We went really in-depth with training information and really enjoyed answering some great questions. Be sure to check it out!

Vincent's Pet Partners Evaluation

The big day! Vincent trained his whole life for this day. I was a bit worried about my performance since I get a score as well. Vincent also is still wiggly with being in a rat burrito (wrapped up in a towel) so I wasn't sure how that would go.

You can see our evaluation here:

Turns out he could be in a basket for all the exercises. That doesn't mean we aren't still working on rat burritos though. So we passed and even got a complex score! There are some locations that are more stressful than others and we are able to work in them if wanted. 

What really set our evaluation apart was my interactivity with the volunteers and the evaluator as well as Vincent's interactions with them. Vincent will stick his head out of the basket and sniff others who greet him. Not something I taught him, and I noticed Xavier will do the same. Oliver would wait to be pet and not really reach out of the basket, so this is pretty cool. 

Vincent the therapy rat celebrating with a cake
We celebrated with a cake! (Walmart tried their best)

We celebrated with a cake which Vincent and Xavier had a blast with. We took some awesome photos. You can see the rest on our Facebook page.

Blessing of the Animals

Vincent the therapy rat with Father John of St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Vincent with Father John

We were invited to come to St. Peter's Episcopal Church to their Blessing of the Animals! Vincent was a hit and he actually thoroughly enjoyed being blessed. The pastor put his hand on him and Vincent thought he was getting a really good head pat and made a happy face. It was adorable. 

Midterm De-Stress at Berry College

Vincent the therapy rat at Berry College

I'm so happy that Vincent's first official event was at Berry. I don't know what it is, but college students and rats just seem to mix very well. He did very well and we even managed to do a rat burrito which he just about fell asleep in. 

Vincent the therapy rat at Berry College

We tried a burrito later on in the visit, but he wasn't having it, but people can hold him while he is in his basket too. We have more photos that we have up on our Facebook Page!

Vincent the therapy rat at Berry College

Looking into the future for Vincent, I see participating in a reading program or two and lots more de-stressing and PR events for Compassionate Paws. Really excited to get his career going!

Wish Vincent "Good Luck" in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Good Luck, Vincent! I can't wait to see you at GHC in December <3