The call came in on Tuesday. Sam here. Our elite covert operations IMF unit needed to carry out a highly sensitive, feel good mission at West Pines, ASAP. The assignment was critical to carry out since one of the regular pet therapy dogs that visit West Pines recently passed away and with it being summertime and many of our volunteers on vacation, the therapy coordinator was desperate for someone to cover West Pines this month. We were just there 12 days ago but I jumped at the chance to visit my friends again. “Mom…they need us. Let’s do it!” Luckily for us our out-of-town company arrives after our mission is over. Whew! While our missions aren’t the typical ‘secret anonymous covert missions’ like the TV series or the ramped up Hollywood blockbusters, we don’t need to unmask criminals or rescue hostages but we knew it was vital to step in and help the whole team out. So the team leader asked if we could do Wednesday’s visits and we agreed. One thing is vital on one of these last-minute Impawsible Missions: the mission must be carried out and the only high-tech equipment we can use involve treats in mom’s magic pocket. So we agreed to do Wednesday’s shift. That’s what teammates do, right?
But first…I fur-got about the
dreaded bath preparation before I could go to West Pines. Eek…what was I thinking when I signed up for this gig?
The only good thing (if ANYTHING good can be said about baths) to come from this water torture is it’s been so warm, mom didn’t have to use the
gawd awful wind machine hair dryer on me. Man, I hate that thing! The clippers are bad enough. And for some reason this time, mom drove me cray-cray struggled with trimming up my feet. I don’t like ANYONE touching my feet anyway so it took her a whole lot longer. I was keeping my paws crossed she’d give up and let me go on the mission, Muppet style. Note to self: moms never give up. *Ugh*
We arrived early so I hung out in the main reception area waiting to spring into action. I can spread my therapy skills over peeps wherever I’m at and luckily the waiting visitors and staff cruising through periodically, obliged while we waited. have been making loads of friends with the staff and they always offer me treats. Did I mention how much I love the staff? Nom, nom.One fellow who was waiting to check in had owned a couple of Standards years ago spent a lot of time with me. He teared up at the thought his beloved dogs were gone, but was very grateful for my visit.
When Donna, the facilitator was able to fetch us, off we went. It started out a little on the slow side. Not too many of the staff were able to run their fingers through my luxuriously soft furs. Dang…you mean I endured a…a….%#*@ bloody bath and no one was around now to escort me to the patient areas? What the heck is up with that? Eventually we were able to visit the various areas where there were plenty of patients gathered and boy, did I make up for lost time. Men, women. They all came rushing over to me. The first guy was a huge hulking man and I was a bit nervous he might squash me, but he gently sat down beside me and stroked my head and ears. He was super eager to spend as much time as possible and kept telling me how much he loved dogs. Another lady who knew about us poodles decided to get her therapy fix next. When she stopped petting me, I plopped down right next her and was prepared to stay all morning since I liked her energy.
Unfortunately we needed to move on to see the rest of the patients who have a regimented schedule and she bid me a sad farewell. Many others came by too to say hi and tell me stories about their own pets. Visiting with the mental health patients has become quite an adventure. Mom is struck by the number of people who need my therapy skills and how raw their emotions can sometimes be. It’s easy for me to calm them and sooth their tears. I sit patiently and look deeply into their eyes, studying their faces where I see the pain they carry. I hope I can erase some of that discomfort, even if just for a few minutes.
Our next stop was at a group session where they were practicing yoga. They all perked up when they saw me and I showed them I can bust a downward facing dog move with the best of ’em. One girl in particular especially seemed to need my attention so I laid on her yoga mat and we exchanged zen energy. I kept wagging my tail back at her when we had to leave and she smiled broadly from ear to ear. I hope I made her day…she sure made mine.
Although we’re usually only there for an hour or so, the whole experience wears me out. Being on a IMF mission, while I don’t self-destruct like TV’s Mission Impossible, does tend to wear me out so I’ll be spending the rest of the day like this till tomorrow when this IMF team goes back to hospice and the Senior Behavioral unit. Pfft, Mr. Phelp’s got nothing over me. 💤
Live, love, bark! ❤︎