Category Archives: Pet Therapy

Mental Health Thursday

How can I help you?

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! 🐾

Wordy Wednesday ~ May 23, 2018

Today we are visiting our friends at West Pines after some terrific visits yesterday at the main hospital and at hospice. We’ll share some remarkable adventures (hopefully) later this week but wanted to let you know the ‘Dogtor’ is in the house treating patients and staff. At the sound of the tone, please leave a number and we’ll get back to you to schedule an appointment.

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

In solidarity

Here I was trying to get Sam all spiffed up for today and tomorrow’s visits and look who came to his defense. Elsa laid on the floor in front of the tub the whole time I was bathing the long-suffering Sam. Do you think she’d be happy to take one for her brother? Yeah, me neither.

Help me!!

Live love, bark! 🐾

From the Desk of the Dog ~ May 10, 2018

An article in the newspaper over the weekend caught mom’s eye relative to service dogs and the airlines. Sam here. Mom has ranted blogged about this before (you can read about it HERE) and it continues to be a topic she holds near and dear to her heart. Far too many veterans have been hassled and made to leave too many businesses. If you ever want to push my mom’s buttons, just hassle a veteran and his service dog! Trust me when I say…it is not a pretty sight and comes complete with HBO words.

Student guide dog Max, a golden retriever puppy, walks the aisle of a plane during a training program at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey ~ Stephen Chernin, Getty Images file

In an article over the weekend indicating Congress is considering tightening the rules regarding service animals allowed on airplanes, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) recently introduced a bill that “would align the definition of a service animal to fit the stricter regulations in the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).” Noting things have gotten completely out of hand after someone tried to bring a kangaroo onboard as a support animal, Burr said in a news release, the proposed rule would establish criminal penalties for falsely asserting a family pet is a “service animal.” Mom told me she’s witnessed first hand peeps trying to bring small purse sized dogs onboard as a therapy pet. This isn’t Noah’s Ark people! Earlier this year, Delta Airlines announced steps it will undertake in tightening procedures after passengers tried to fly with an assortment of “comfort animals” such as turkeys, snakes, and spiders. Excuse me? A snake is NOT a comfort animal in my books!

The proposed legislation has the backing of Airlines for America, the advocacy group for the airline industry and the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a creature that has been trained to perform specific tasks to assist people with disabilities such as seeing eye dogs. These so-called ‘comfort dogs’ do not fit into the legal description under this legislation.

Notwithstanding whether or not the House will take up this piece of legislation, do you think this is a step in the right direction?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

May Day Model

April has slipped into the history books and now it’s time to gather ’round the maypole.’ Hi there, it’s Sam. Today is my favorite day of spring and not just because it’s “May Day” which is celebrated in various northern hemisphere countries (U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Poland, and the Czech Republic). Today starts ‘my’ month. You see, I’m Mr. May in our hospital pet therapy calendar.  Lots of nurses will be swooning smiling when they flip over April and see this handsome dawg staring back at them. I’m feeling extra honored to be included as a center fold this year since the pet therapy peeps decided not to make a calendar for next year’s fundraiser.

Mr. May

According to Wikipedia, “May Day has been a traditional day of festivities throughout the centuries, most associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime fertility (of the soil, livestock, and people) and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings.” Originating in Roman times as a pagan celebration, modern May Day ceremonies in the U.S. vary from region to region and many unite both the holiday’s “Green Root” (pagan) and “Red Root” (labor) traditions. Children often prepare small baskets filled with flowers and treats to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Whatever you do today, we hope you enjoy a beautiful day and a sweet wet nose from your favorite four-legged fur-iend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I kind of like this sentiment though I can think of other sweet treats that I’d love even more. So what’s your idea of a terrific Wednesday?

Live, love, bark 🐾

Adventures at West Pines

You may remember that we were able to get a double shift at West Pines this month and mom thought you might want to know how we did on our last visit just before she went on vacation. Sam here. I am only to happy to share our adventures and happy to report I made some peeps pretty happy, if I do say so myself.

Visiting with staff and patients always make for good experiences and this trip was no exception. When we visit the various groups in their recovery process at West Pines I especially love going to the art room where everyone is gathered in a circle. There is always a large container of coloring markers in the center of the circle which I promptly knock over, without fail. In my defense, I MUST inspect everything to make sure (a) there are no hidden crumbs (these guys love to snack) and (b) make sure it’s all safe for the residents.  Mom thinks I’m just a klutz but it’s my routine game plan because it always embarrasses her and makes everyone else giggle. Win-win!

Reporting for Duty

And on this day’s visit, there were more than enough patients to visit. Usually when I sashay into a room, all the girls ooh-and-aww which automatically makes my tail wag. I just can’t help myself. Mom thinks I’m vain but I genuinely love people, especially when they say the magic word…”awwww.” So everyone wanted to pet me and kept asking me to come over to receive petting. Naturally I obliged. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it, right? There was one girl I could tell really wanted me to swing by but she never said anything and kind of receded in the background. The others kept positioning themselves in front of me or next to me. One guy even got down on the floor so he could have me all to himself. Talk about being in hog heaven, yes I was…thank you very much.

I then came to my senses and realized someone was missing. The quiet girl. So after I visited with everyone else in the room, I trotted up to her and laid my head in her lap. Everyone couldn’t believe it. The woman who accompanies us to the various sites on campus squealed, “Oh my gosh, look at that! How adorable.” Pfft…it’s not like I’m not a pro, Miss Donna. I know what needs to be done and I could tell this girl needed me. I just had to take care of all the others. This quiet girl grinned from ear to ear and rubbed my ears just the way I like it. We both enjoyed it and I was able to bring a few moments of joy to someone who needed it. Mom was so proud of me at being able to recognize the need and Miss Donna bragged about it to other instructors. All in all it was a great day at West Pines and should be again later today when I go back. Paws crossed we have as good a time.

Live, love, bark! 🐾