WAITING ON SPRING
Every two years each of the Pet Partners teams must go through a series of tests to prove we are still qualified to do the work we do. This past Sunday a group of us were scheduled for re-evaluations, and I spent the 45-minute ride into Albany talking to Bear about what he needed to do to pass all the tests. What I should have been doing for a few days before that was studying what I needed to do to pass all the tests!
A FEW SCENES FROM SUNDAY’S EVALUATIONS
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Bear spent last Friday in Albany at the groomers. We then worked on Saturday, were evaluated on Sunday, and worked on Monday and Tuesday. That was four trips to Albany and one to Leesburg – a little over 350 miles. Even though we were tired at the end of each day, and even though I had to fight to keep a hot spot below his ear from spreading and had to be vigilant in watching that children’s and patients’ hands were directed away from that ear, we would not have given up one moment of the time we spent “working.”
When I first joined Paws Patrol – the Albany chapter of the Pet Partners Program, I never would have dreamed how much fun and how much satisfaction I’d receive from sharing Bear with children, hospitalized patients, mentally and physically challenged folks of all ages, and the beautiful senior citizens we visit in nursing and assisted living facilities.
Our group recently walked into a lady’s room at the hospital, and she was sitting up cross-legged in her bed, literally rocking back and forth with excitement that the therapy dogs were there. We’ve entered the front door at nursing homes and had wheelchair-bound seniors shout, “The dogs are here! The dogs are here!”
Yesterday I watched one elderly, grumpy man being wheeled down the hall at a nursing home, shouting “No!” to every question his harried nurse asked him. She stopped a minute to admire the dogs, and Bear chose that moment to thrust his big head into the man’s lap, burrow in as close as he could without climbing into the chair with him, and literally nose his way under the man’s hands. The man seemed shocked to find a furry, golden head in his lap, but it only took seconds before he was talking quietly to Bear, his gnarled fingers fingering through the soft hair and scratching behind Bear’s ears. “I used to have a dog like this,” he said. And Bear and I stayed a few extra moments with him while he reminisced.
Such small things . . . .
- Having Buddy or Dewar (two of our smaller dogs) lifted into the hospital bed of patients unable to sit up. Their little bodies scrunch up close, and patients are able to touch them and feel all that love coming to them right through the bed sheets.
- Having people’s minds changed about their entire attitudes toward dogs. The nurse who takes us room to room at the hospital was terrified of dogs when she was first assigned to us, and we wondered, “How is this going to work?” Now she is one of our biggest fans and looks forward to each visit.
- Having patients waiting for treatment in Oncology become so focused on one of our dogs that, instead of dreading the next 30 minutes, they’ve spent the waiting time in a very happy place where nerves have been calmed, and blood pressure has lowered.
Each of the humans in our Pet Partners teams know how blessed we are to be a part of this program. As for our dogs . . . they just know they get to put on a nifty vest, give unconditional love and – in return – receive long strokes along their spines, pats on their heads and sweet words whispered in their ears. Can a dog ask for a better life than that?
I’m taking my laptop in for some much-needed maintenance tomorrow and hoping nothing major is in the works. I’ve been experiencing a few glitches in the past couple of weeks, so I’ve decided to be proactive instead of waiting for it to explode. Hopefully, I’ll have it back by the weekend.