This has been one of the most rewarding adventures I have ever volunteered to do. First, let me tell you just a little bit about my two dogs, a short little Bio on each. There are pictures on my dog therapy page.
Benny, my black lab, is about five years old now. (I never seem to remember exactly how old he is.) Benny is a wonderful dog (even though he likes to steal my pillows). He loves visiting our friends in the home. Clearly, this is where he loves to be.
Then there is Nikki, my two year golden puppy. Nikki is a typical two year golden. She is full of life. She keeps me hopping. And, just like Benny, she brings pure gold to our friends.
It has been an extremely busy summer so far. Unfortunately, with work demanding more and more of my time, and with home issues demanding more and more of my time, my volunteering has lapsed this summer. This has created a void in me.
The one thing I have learned about this situation is how much I love the dog therapy visiting programs.
Benny has been a visiting dog for a number of years now. We have always gone to the same home, so we have made many wonderful friends.
Well, after my “sabbatical” I went and took Benny to see our senior friends last Saturday Night. This was an unscheduled visit. I could have cried. They were so very happy to see him again (not me so much). We had a “Benny” party in the lobby.
What a wonderful time my Benny had. Of course! Everyone was petting him, and talking to him. Wow, he was being treated like royalty. A true friend come home.
It was just great to see this joy. We all talked and laughed and joked. Everyone talked about their summer, how they were doing, what was going on in their own world. I felt better than I had for a long time. My new resolve is to go back to my weekly visits. I do not want to miss out on these opportunities anymore.
So, my advice, as always is: If you have the inclination to visit with seniors, if you have a dog that loves to be petted, a dog that loves the human touch, then please go to your local Dog Therapy Group and find out how you can join this wonderful work. It is not difficult to get your dog certified.
The three most well known organizations that offer certification; Delta Society, Therapy Dog International and Therapy Dogs, Inc.
There are other therapy organizations and you may find an organization in your area via the internet under dog therapy, pet therapy or animal assisted therapy.
And, for us Canadians, there is, Therapeutic Paws of Canada (my dogs belong to this wonderful group). They offer a volunteer based therapy dog and cat visitation program for senior’s facilities such as retirement homes, nursing homes, Alzheimer day away centers, hospitals and where there is a need. The medical establishment has long recognized the significant benefits of a therapy dog and cat program. The petting and stroking of a pet helps to calm the most agitated resident and stimulates wonderful conversations about the pet they once owned. Recovery from surgery is quoted as being accelerated when there is continued contact with a pet.
As a result of the many government fiscal cutbacks, the facility’s staff is stretched to their limits. The positive impact of our programme on the day-to-day life of each senior throughout our community and beyond cannot be calculated.