What a lost rooster can teach us about CASA

Pablo, the Lost Rooster Adopted by Calo TeensPablo is a name that will inspire a wide variety of reactions around Calo Teens. Every single person knows who Pablo is and each person seems to have a different opinion of him.

Mention his name, and you can get anything from a light-hearted sigh and knowing smile or trigger an angry, long-winded rant of his property destruction.
 
Pablo is a lost rooster that one day wandered to Calo Lake Ozark and contentedly declared it home. Why exactly would he choose to live at a residential treatment center? Especially one with an active canine therapy department featuring roughly 40 golden retrievers on campus! Did you catch that? Golden retrievers, the breed specifically bred to hunt and retrieve waterfowl. Why would Calo Teens ever decide to keep a noisy rooster around? It’s not like a rooster could have therapeutic value or benefit for adopted teens with developmental trauma… right?
 
He started off as just a soft, idyllic Midwestern morning crow that was audible in the distance. Many conversations would start with the incredulous question, “Guys, did you hear a rooster this morning?!” Then suddenly he appeared! A large, brightly feathered rooster with shades of red, deep bronze and dark metallic green. The rooster myth was finally confirmed with this mysterious yet majestic bird’s arrival to campus.
 
This bird was an upset to Calo Teens. Almost overnight, drivers had to be on the look-out for a wandering rooster in the parking lot, while students were forced to grasp their canine leashes much tighter. Without fail each morning you were blasted with a boisterous morning crow, repeatedly. He was a tamer, gentler rooster that would timidly sashay up if you held out food to him.  Calo Teens' Adopted Rooster Pablo
 

Rooster adopts residential treatment center as his new home.

 
The name “Pablo” was promptly deemed the fitting title for the quirky rooster now roaming the campus. And everyone was talking about him and telling his/her own Pablo encounter story. For some he would stubbornly stand in their parking spots, refusing to move and keeping them from parking. For others he would crow incessantly outside of their window, requiring an explanation on phone calls that yes, you did just hear a rooster crow in the background. Most students had their own tale about how their canine tried to attack Pablo or how they personally chased him. In a short amount of time, Pablo had made a substantial impact on campus. Overall everyone, staff and students alike were remarkably accepting of his relocation here and full-time residence at Calo.
 
Calo Teens Student Holding Pablo the RoosterFor our student population of kids with a history of complex developmental trauma and reactive attachment disorder, relationships are extremely terrifying, unsafe, and undesirable. Somehow Pablo can by-pass the walls these students have built up. This rambunctious rooster captured the heart of our adopted teens. Without even realizing it, we began to provide Pablo with our Calo therapeutic treatment model, CASA.
 
At Calo Programs, we summarize our relationally-based treatment model as CASA, which stands for Commitment, Acceptance, Security, Attunement. The ultimate goal of the model is Joy, experienced through co-regulation. CASA is utilized within every department across each program within Calo Programs.
 

How does Pablo assist with CASA?

Commitment: As Pablo nested into Calo Teens, staff and students welcomed him with open arms. Small mounds of seeds, grains, and snacks were set out all over campus to ensure he had enough to eat. As winter came around staff and students alike began to worry about how our beloved rooster would stay warm on frigid, snowy nights. Pablo had a specific tree he claimed as his own and could be found flapping up to roost there every night at dusk. This certainly would not suffice in extreme winter weather, and Pablo needed protection. Before we knew it, there was a brand new, spacious, red chicken coop insulated with hay and complete with a heated water trough. We were committed to Pablo and keeping him safe and secure at Calo Lake Ozark!
 
Acceptance: Housing a rooster at a residential treatment center isn’t the simplest task. Roosters have their own set of needs and undesirable behaviors. Little piles of chicken poo were artfully scattered around campus and always inevitably showcased right in front of the entry door. Any landscaping efforts were quickly adjusted with some imaginative flair from Pablo. Mulch shouldn’t lie flat in the garden beds; it should be scattered about everywhere and feature large divots the perfect size for holding roosters. Crowing was a talent that should be boasted all times of the day and with increasing frequency. Cars were for standing directly in front of and impeding any form of movement from them. Canines were for teasing, enticing, and sauntering around just out of their reach. These rooster idiosyncrasies were more profound than we’d bargained for and some days just plain frustrating to deal with and accept, yet we did.
 
Pablo in his coopSecurity: Even when Pablo scored his fancy new crib, he insisted on sleeping in his tree. When the weather was 10 degrees outside and predicted to drop even lower, Pablo would be found feathers blustering about in the branches of his favorite tree. Willing rooster movers were recruited to transfer him each night from the tree to the warm safety of his secure chicken coop. Even though Pablo didn’t prefer the coop, we knew it was the security he needed. The battle between the canines vs. Pablo is ongoing. How do you train a golden to ignore the instinct to charge easy prey? Students now had to be constantly on guard with leash in hand when venturing outdoors. While it’s an ongoing obstacle for students, it’s teaching them to be in control of their canine.
 
Attunement: While he’s a wild, disruptive bird, he’s a hit on campus! He quickly earned a job title within Calo Teens, and an email account was even set up in his honor. Staff was now receiving positive bits of encouragement from Pablo, Calo Teens’ Positivity Ambassador. Students tried to convince us to start a rooster therapy program with eligible students able to work towards full-time care for Pablo. Students attuned to Pablo and advocated for his needs to staff. His feet look painful and unhealthy, let’s put Neosporin on them. Pablo doesn’t have enough seed, can we get more for him? Can you send out another email asking students to keep their canines 10 feet away from Pablo? Can we knit a sweater for him? Pablo continues to thrive within the care. When Pablo recognizes people who have paid him kind attention or provided him food, he’ll break into a full out run to greet them as soon as he spots them! You can frequently see folks appear to talk to themselves in the parking lot only to discover, nope, they’re having a little chat with our campus rooster. One student even requests breaks from class to take five minutes and vent her frustrations to Pablo. Our students who struggle with finding safety within interpersonal relationships find Pablo a little safer and more approachable. He’s a safe relationship they can manage and use to transition to a canine and ultimately to humans (transferable-attachment).
 
Just as staff practicing CASA with our students, sometimes we have to go back to commitment each day. It’s a cumulative approach not linear. We don’t get to magically check “yes, we’re committed!” We have to go back to it each day. As we step into a fresh pile of chicken poo, we take a deep breath and remember our commitment and acceptance to this silly rooster. Pablo is a prime example of how we implement CASA in everyday situations with our families, our students, our staff, our canines, and even our rooster.



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