A solemn face lights up with a smile. “What are the dogs here for?”
I hear this question often. I respond: “They are here for you.”
Most of the people we visit don’t know or care much about the training and processes we go through to prepare our dogs to become registered with a therapy dog organization. They just want to touch, pet, and learn about their new furry friends.
“How old? - What breed? - Does he do tricks? - Can she get on the bed with me?”
That’s as it should be; we are there to distract from pain, discomfort, problems, sadness. We are there to lighten the moment, elicit smiles, soften a hard day.
From very early on, I loved sharing my Golden Retriever, Kaizen, with anybody who needed a smile . Most people who met him oohed and aahed at his gorgeous chestnut fur and beautiful smile, and laughed at his friendly, goofy personality. Seeing this kind of response from folks is very rewarding to me. So it wasn’t surprising that, as soon as I learned about the idea of using dogs therapeutically, I quickly decided Kai and I would train to become a therapy dog team.