My dog and I like to walk and roam, But the best place to go is a senior’s home. Their eyes light up when I say ‘I have brought my dog to visit today.’ Talking and petting all the while, Makes me feel good when they start to smile. My dog gets hugs and attention galore, But also provides so much more. Putting smiles on faces when there was none, Now I know our job is done.
by Leona Stratford
A Handler’s Poem
“I would like to tell you a story about one of my amazing experiences, and I have had many, on what Therapy Dogs can do for people. I first met the “Smith” family two years ago when they had just moved into the neighbourhood, and were bringing their children for their first day of school. The kids were all in their new classes, and the parents were just leaving the office, when I walked in with my Child Certified Doberman Pinscher named “Moxy”. We chatted briefly about what our purpose was in the school and which class I would be working with that day. As it turned out I was headed to the class where their son “John” was. It was his first day in a new school and he was deathly afraid of all dogs. I was ready to cancel the visit right then…but his mom said no. She told me to go, and she hoped there would be something that we could do to help “John” with his fear of dogs. So I went, with my heart in my throat for this little boy who would have his worst nightmare show up on his first day in a new school…it felt so cruel.
When I entered the class “John’s” eyes got big, they filled with tears, and he ran to the far back corner of the room. I was mortified. But the rest of the class was thrilled to see Moxy, and so I let the teacher handle the situation and we began our reading program. This went on for several weeks and each time “John’s” reaction became less and less. We never asked him to join in, we simply let him experience the joy and excitement that the other children had when reading with the dog. And then it happened…one day “John” simply joined the circle. Moxy always seemed to know who wanted an exuberant greeting and who wanted a gentle nudge. With “John” on that first time, she just walked right by him…she could feel the uncertainty rolling off him in waves. The next week Moxy paused in front of him but didn’t touch or move any closer. Each week we made tiny steps of progress…until one week while Moxy was lying down in the middle of the circle, “John” suddenly walked up to her with purpose, sat down, put his arm around her, and declared her his friend. I couldn’t believe it. This big, scary looking Doberman, had just won over the heart of a child too terrified to even be in the same room as a dog.” Experience told by Nicole & Moxy
One handler’s account of an uplifting experience:
‘I suffer from chronic pain. When the dog comes to visit, my pain disappears and I feel better for quite a while after.