The "Visit"

As the big day approached, I started getting the paperwork together and making sure the collars were clean, the leads were reads and most of all, the dogs were washed and brushed.  I was a little excited and scared at the same time wondering what to expect.  This was our first official visit of many visits to a “facility” as a therapy dog and handler.  Dutchess sensed something was up and she was overly excited and bounced around the house knowing something was up…”I hope it’s not the Vet” she said, “they usually stick things where they don’t belong and besides, it’s always cold” with a scowl on her face along with an empty stomach, she knew something was up…and off we went, little did she know…

All the way there, she sat in the back of the car looking around wondering where we were going, watching the cars pass with her tail between her legs, “no one is going there… if I can help it”  she said but as we pulled into the facility, her tail went up, out she came and off we went…

After making our presences known with the Activity Director that we had previously talked with, we were given free reign of the facility.  We were met in the lobby by several patrons of the facility that couldn’t wait, wanting to touch and kiss and of course, they got to, and even got much more back with Dutchess’s enthusiasm and affection.  One nurse said to make sure we went to room 403, she loves dogs and she can’t get out of bed and she would be so happy.  We worked our way through the maze of people and saw everyone who wanted a visit, which was many…Dutchess put on her charm and would even hold up one paw to shake hands.  She played with them, giving licks/kisses and even helped house cleaning by searching the floor trying to smell her morning breakfast which never came until later.  I thought best that she would travel on an empty stomach for apparent reasons, we may have to rethink this.

It was a wonderful visit and we made many new friends and hopefully we will see all of them again.  Ms. Pearl* was so excited to see the dogs but said she was lucky to see us, because she was going home tomorrow and I inquired where home was?  We found out it was in another Independent Home, where she lived for the last 9 years.   Ms. Pearl was at this location because she had a setback, but is now doing much better and leaving for home.  After leaving, Elaine and I talked about our visit and the pro’s and con’s and we discovered that there were no con’s.

Ms. Pearl, was being transfer to her long-standing Independent Retirement Home the next day but before we traveled back home, we paid a visit to that same location Ms. Pearl was moving to, and hopefully next week, we will see Ms. Pearl again, because management welcomed us with open arms and it will be on our schedule, we are the only ones doing this at this location. 

Dutchess was not alone as Clancy was with her.  You see, even though Clancy did not pass his evaluation for unforsaken reasons, he can still visit, just not certified which can restrict his locations which is understandable.  He was a champ, doing all the right things and making everyone feel good and even getting on the bed which was allowed.  It was the best of times…

“Look into their eyes,  and you will ultimately see yourself. An emotional mirror, looking back at you, animal to animal. Never mind dominance or the bag of treats, our dog’s behavior is driven by our emotion. And then it goes deeper still, know thy dog, know thyself”.
- Tom Ashbrook

If you are interested in visiting a nursing home or an Independent Living facility, just check, most will allow a visit.  Thaddeus, one of our pups from Annie/Doc and is well on his way to becoming a wonderful Therapy dog and makes regular visits now at only 7 months old and had taken the hearts of many.  Clancy can go because he has been immunized and that is the only requirement as with Thaddeus.  It is a very moving experience and will touch your heart.  Lord knows, I have been on both ends and in truth, this end is better but I can’t help to think that when I looked into the eyes of some of the patients, I was looking into my own eyes…very moving.  Ken

*Ms. Pearl…not her real name.