Carawind Aussies and Shelties - Pet Therapy
Carawind Aussies & Shelties


Pet Therapy

Of everything I do with my dogs, Pet Therapy is the most rewarding. Most of my dogs have passed the version of the Canine Good Citizen test that is required by Therapy Dogs, International.

About every other week, we go to the Comprehensive Counseling Center of Westmoreland Hospital, our local hospital. We visit with the inpatients on Thursday afternoons. It is wonderful to see the reactions the patients have to the dogs. Some patients are indifferent, some don't even want to visit. But the ones that do have a great time. So many times, the dogs really brighten their days. They get to pet and hug the dogs, and often talk about their own dogs. But the most rewarding times are when an otherwise silent patient opens up and starts talking. Several times, we've had to stay long after our usual time, because a patient started talking about what was wrong, and continued talking as long as they were holding the dog. I always check back, and almost every one continued talking after that, and was finally able to be helped. One patient especially stands out. He had multiple brain tumors, and was having trouble speaking, so he didn't say a thing. That day, I had Lexi, and her sister Heidi, with me. They were about 4 months old at the time. He wanted to hold a puppy, and the social worker assured me he was very gentle. So, I lifted Heidi up onto his lap. Heidi was more of a cuddler than Lexi. Well, that 4 month old puppy was so contented, and he was so gentle, that she promptly fell asleep in his lap. Then he started to sing to her! The social worker nearly started crying, this was such a huge breakthrough for him.

We also visit residents in nursing homes. It's so nice to see an older person's face light up when you walk into their room with a dog. A very reliable dog is needed here, as some of the people are uncoordinated and rather jerky. The dogs I take to visit just stand there (or remain still when I hold them), and let the residents pet them. I remember one visit, where I had my little Chase, and there was a blind woman who wanted to hold him. I picked him up, and placed him on her lap in the wheelchair. She started petting him, and the volunteer that was with us started describing him to her. As it turns out, she had a Collie when she was younger, so she was able to picture him in her mind. She just sat there for the longest time, petting him. And of course, Chase loved it. He's the biggest cuddler I have.

We have also visited with the children being cared for during Parent's Anonymous meetings and residents at convalescent centers.

Here is a story from one of our visits to the Comprehensive Counseling Center. I had Lexi and Chase with me. Last school year, when we finished visiting the inpatients upstairs, we went down and visited with a boy's group. One day, Lexi had the counselor and me in stitches.

Once we got started, Lexi was running around the table in the middle of the room back and forth. She would then run up to the 3 boys on the floor, and they would back up. She then ran around the table to the other side and backed them up more. After about 6 times, all three boys were backed up, under the table in the corner of the room. She then just stopped and stared at them. If one would try to come out, she moved over in front of him, and he backed up again, back under the table. It was so funny seeing this little 14 1/2" 10 month old puppy keeping 3 boys stuck under the table. I had to finally go over and pick her up so they could come out. *Almost* sounds like she has herding instinct!!!! While all this was going on, Chase (my little 14 3/4" blue boy) was curled up on the 4th boy's lap, almost falling asleep. No herding instinct there!!


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