Therapy in Action-Mexican Style

Pirate coffee hutSince returning from Mexico I have been frequently thinking about the impact of pet therapy more than usual. While visiting south of the border, I witnessed first hand the absolute power of pet therapy on a spontaneous walk I took in the vicinity of our resort. My intention was to walk up the main roadway toward where the river flowed out into the bay. I knew from walking along the beach that near the confluence, a number of egret-like birds hung out. I was also told by a local person, crocodiles could also be found upstream. I planned on avoiding the later but hoped I could get some decent shots of the former.

Pirate coffee shopWhen it became clear no good shots of the birds could be had without climbing down a step river bank (umm, no thanks, no photo of a bird was worth a potential encounter with a croc sighting, thank you very much). Instead, serendipity arrived in the form of a little coffee stand in the shape of…a pirate ship. ‘Argh,’ I groaned but quickly realized this little hut and companion playground held potential for a few photo opportunities. The proprietor greeted me (that’s him waving in the first photo) and we exchanged limited greetings, he only spoke Spanish and beyond ‘Hola,’ I could only smile. But I wandered around hoping to catch some locals taking a break when I saw a small boy playing in the playground area, but realized there was something special about this little boy. The boy was chasing and being chased by a small puppy who constantly dashed after this blur of a child, and the two rambunctious dervishes chased and played with each other with pure abandon. After several minutes of watching the scene, a thin slip of a young woman with a beautiful smile waved and came over to chat. She was the boy’s mother and we began a long chat about the two bundles of energy. The puppy was a Pit/Lab mix, about 4-months old which she had obtained for her 4-year old autistic son. She had gotten the dog in hopes of giving her son a companion that he might be aided by the fur companion. She related how owning this little ball of energy had made a significant difference with her son. When I revealed Sam was a therapy dog, she began asking me a jillion questions about training the new addition while repeatedly re-directing the pair away from the busy road.

Mexican therapy dog
A brief  moment of stillness

I barely was able to catch the pair still enough to capture any photos (never did get one of the boy who was either blurry or where he looked away), but in the shot above, the little ‘therapist’ was catching his breath for a few seconds before resuming the chase with his human friend. Watching the two of them and talking with the mom, it really struck me, how often dogs manage to understand their role with their humans. They instinctively seem to know what we need and provide it willingly. The mom, a transplant from Alberta Canada, mentioned that day was to be the last one with the little dog officially. The landlord said no pets and was adamant about the rule. So like mom’s everywhere, she found a solution to comply without moving by paying a nearby neighbor a few dollars a month to care for the dog at night and bring him back to play with her son during the day. I can only hope this solution works well for them, the little boy was clearly attached to his pal and the little pooch was thrilled to have his ‘2-legged puppy’ companion with whom he could romp and play during the day.

I thought about that family when Sam went to West Pines last week. We visited with a number of folks who for a brief few minutes, came out of their shells to twirl their fingers around the soft fur of a loving Knucklehead. One woman in particular sat down and had Sam sit in front of her crossed legs. Her face lit up and her soft voice shared her story about adopting a pair of Potcake dogs (you can read about the breed here) and how much she missed them. I could tell this tender-hearted woman needed a few minutes with Sam and he was more than willing to let her gaze into his eyes and stroke his ears. A fellow resident who was far chattier and extroverted then took his turn with Sam who accommodated him with a totally different energy. I couldn’t help but think of the little Pit/Lab mixed puppy a 1000 miles away chasing the pant legs of a little boy while romping together and then smiling. It was then while I typed this post that I realized Sam had his head pressed against my thigh. Without consciously thinking I reached down and twirled the fur on his ears and he leaned in and then looked up at me. Yes, therapy dogs are the same no matter where they are and I couldn’t be more pleased about that fact.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

56 thoughts on “Therapy in Action-Mexican Style

  1. No doubt what you have been thinking is that you need to figure out how to turn crocodiles into therapy animals. Imagine the joy of watching a boy and his service croc play together in the street…

    1. After meeting the mom, I have no doubt the arrangement will work. 😊 She was such an inspiration and an amazing human.

  2. Monika,
    This is such a beautiful story and I absolutely loved it. Our dogs are so important when it comes to helping our family live with the regular ups and downs of life as well as the stress of my health issues. I must say, that Bilbo had a special way about him, which I still miss despite having the three dogs. He was an only dog much of the time and was much closer to us but I think it’s better for the dogs to also have each other. We were advised that with the pups being brother and sister from the same litter, that they would have a bond, which lessen their attachment to us. However, at the same time, they’re meant to be dogs and we’re not home all the time either.
    Btw, there’s a huge stick ie branch on our back doormat…treasure!
    Hope you have a great weekend!
    Best wishes,
    Ro

    1. Thanks Rowena. Dogs absolutely make such an impact in human lives. I continue to think about that little boy, his mum and the little dog that follows him around and pray that all their lives are better. Cheers for a great weekend. 💖

      1. You have such a beautiful heart, Monika. I hope your thoughts are reaching them somehow and touching their hearts.
        Best wishes,
        Rowena

      2. They will remain in my heart for a very long time. If I ever get back there, I will definitely look them up to see how they’re doing.

  3. What a beautiful post today. So glad the mom figured a way to keep the pup in her boy’s life
    hugs
    Hazel & Mabel

  4. oh how beautiful. I felt like I was there. So glad the mom found a solution for everyone concerned. I found that children in my class of misfits, opened up to my lab before they trusted any of us.

  5. What a beautiful story. I hope it has a happy ending for the pup and child. I could say Lucy is doing therapy with me right now, head on my leg, looking up at me with those big, soulful eyes, but the reality is she wants supper, so gotta go. 🙂

  6. What a touching story!!! We hope the mother can find a way to bring the pup and the boy together for good. We all know the magic a therapy dog can work for an autistic child.

    Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  7. we hope for the best for the little pup… the mama said she would like to have such a pirate decoration in our crib or in our garden… but when my dad builds a ship it will be one with duct tape lOL

  8. That was a sweet story which reinforces my long-held belief that dogs really are too good for us adults. The dog deserves a shout out for wearing a sweater in Mexico. Sam deserves many shout outs…just for being Sam.

    1. I agree…on both counts. Surprisingly I saw a number of pets with sweaters/shirts on. Yeah, I know it November, but it was also in the upper 80’s during the day.

  9. Awh! Great story. I have heard before how dogs can really help those with autism. Sad about the landlord, but so glad she found a solution that still lets the boy enjoy his pal for the day. Worried too though how night is going to be, I am sure it will be hard , especially if the boy is used to sleeping with the dog.

  10. I wish all landlords could understand how important the bond between child and puppy can be, but hurray for neighbors who get it.

    1. I wish ALL people understood the connection between humans and dogs. The world could be a much better place.

  11. Thanks for this post: it warms my heart. That little dog is really cute. I wish some landlords would show more understanding.
    Have a wonderful day,
    Pit

  12. That is so wonderful, Monika. Mean landlord in Mexico but kind neighbour to help out!
    I believe special dogs come in for special needs. Some have that innate sense of what is needed.

    1. She really touched my heart. So dedicated to her son and so loving. It was one of the most touching encounters I experienced in PV.

  13. this was such a beautiful post, so beautifully written. I think the arrangement for that little boy is going to work out just fine…I am glad the mother was able to come up with a solution.

    1. Like all moms she just wants to make her son’s life is as good as possible under the situation. 💖

    2. Thank you. Proving once again, how moms everywhere will do whatever it takes to keep their children happy and safe.

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