We visited West Pines yesterday (read about a previous visit here and the kinds of patients we see) and noticed that most of the staff were wearing green remembrance ribbons attached to their ID badges. When I asked what the occasion was, they said it was Mental Health week. I didn’t find anything online about it (it could have been a hospital campaign although I note it was Mental Health week in the UK from May 16 through May 22).
In any event, Sam was ready to provide his own version of therapy for a number of staff and patients. Here are some of Dogtor Sam’s therapy session notes.
From the moment we walked into the facility, Sam realized there was work to do. Not one to shirk his duties, he began even before our chaperone arrived to take us on our rounds. He strolled over to a visitor sitting in the lobby. She sheepishly asked if she could pet Sam and as soon as the words came out of her mouth, he was standing next to her, tail-a-wagging. She got down on the carpet and looked deeply into his eyes. She bent close to him and whispered something in his ear. His tail wagged even more feverishly and he sat next to her while she began to massage his ears. It was the beginning of many massages for the furry therapist.
Sam saw several people, all of whom genuinely enjoyed seeing him. But his most memorable visit was with “Sarah,” a tall, thin woman with a vacant stare. She politely asked to face him as she sat in a chair and began stroking him gently. He looked deep into her eyes and seemed as if he was completely mesmerized by her gaze. She told me of her own service dog but I’m reluctant to quiz patients about their personal lives (HIPAA plus it’s really not my place to question them). It’s better just to let them share whatever they want. I could tell she was missing her service companion greatly but seemed more than happy to spend time with Sam. A few moments after she sat in front of him, a young bearded fellow came over and sat next to Sam. It seemed too much for her to have someone in such close proximity and she got up and moved to the other side of the day room but keep a watchful eye on her new furry friend. The young man sat and talked to both Sam and I, saying how much he enjoyed dogs and how much they seem drawn to him. Sam was enjoying his presence and after a few minutes sitting on the floor, he decided to get up and move around to loosen up a sore hip. As soon as he left, Sarah returned and sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of him. Sam seemed to realize she needed more of the kind of therapy he can provide and sat patiently with her. Soon he was laying on his side next to her while her fingers returned to massaging him in his favorite spots. A few of the staff commented at how relaxed Sam was and I noticed Sarah seemed more relaxed too. My heart swelled at the thought of this knucklehead making Mental Health Week a little more pleasant for a few peeps in need.
Live, love, bark! 🐾