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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Therapy Dogs

A year ago my miniature Schnauzer Oscar and I took a training class every Wednesday night for almost 3 months. We became Therapy dog volunteers visiting the Caldwell Hospital along side our new friends and my second Mother-in-law Teresa who had been in the program for a couple of years.When she talked about how they meet up with patients and the hospital staff I admired her thoughtful stories. I was inspired that such good people like Teresa can do this with their dogs. When Teresa married Dad his oldest miniature Schnauzer named Newton took to her with such loving devotion! So they visit the hospital with Oscar and I now at least a couple of times a month. I always have such a fun time doing this, I learn something new each visit. I even notice in my own dog a change of calmness and he loves that people are there to pet him:-) I also love how calm Newton is as an older dog, he has an understanding of the word "Sharing" (unlike Oscar who thinks he is the only dog in the room at times.) Teresa and I have always been friends since she joined the family, yet in doing this volunteering together I think we have learned so much more about each other and I really look up to her!
I also love her calming nature in all our noisy family events.
During our class time last year there was an old golden lab so sweet and smart. Her name was Hannah, I would go down to my knees in petting and hugging her, Hannah would leaned into my legs when standing in line and I LOVED IT because she felt just like my own memories of my childhood dog Savannah. Last month Hannah died, she was an old dog when joining our training class and it was amazing to see how she touched everyone's life just being there so beautiful and so loving. Since my own dog was a bit edgy during those first few classes I found our peaceful spot between 2 older labs to help calm him down. It worked instantly! as Oscar seemed to like and trust those older dogs one being Hannah, the other a bear of a dog named Jack. I watched how centered around by older, wiser dogs that my dog Oscar picked up their behavior quickly. I have at least 11 more years with Oscar in my life and every year after that will be a bonus joy, in every death of our pets there is hurt and it can't be describe what an amazing impact those four legged friends give to us in our daily lives. Some people are afraid of feeling that kind of lost, that kind of pain. I have been trying understand them in this fear. I can see why such fear over the clear cut facts that every dog comes to an end would keep some people from ever opening up their home to a dog. I think to myself though that I would regret it more NOT having my dog stories, my laughter and tears fill up my life with that cozy dog smell and all those true friendships. I am not afraid of such pain of lost, of those final goodbyes. I can see clearly the deepest pain would be TO NOT HAVE LOVED or BE LOVED in our short life time. In this month's Newsletter our wonderful Therapy Dog friend Kathi Lee shared a poem that triggered my emotions on this subject, I hope you will enjoy this as much as I did!

                 (written by Kathi Lee 1993)

I often wonder why this and that
and when and where and mouse and cat.
But the question that I ponder most
is why we live long and dogs don't.

Perhaps in this great Universe
where perfection is what we seek,
A dog gains it in one day
but it takes man many a week.

Seven times as patient
seven times as kind
seven times as gentle
in dog years this we find.

To loose a dog is painful
and never will you replace
the way he played and frolicked
and licked you on your face.

But just maybe, when our great maker
was laying out the plan
He sent dogs down to teach us
to be a better man.

So He made dogs lives much shorter
so many teachers we could share
and our lives would be so much better
    ....because a dog was there.


  1. Good job Debby. Thanks for bringing a tear to my eye.


  2. Kathi made me cry the first time and now you've done it too. Glad to be in Therapy dogs with you, deary.

  3. I am so glad you both liked this, I think in remembering that our time with our dogs is limited we can enjoy every memory and every moment deeply.