Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Work of a Therapy Dog

Now many of you might think that I spend my whole life frolicking around fields and galavanting around town. That's partly true. I am a lucky puppy. I live near a reservoir where there is enough space that I can romp and play. It's a real neighborhood place. People are there nearly every day tending to the grounds. During the spring the place really comes alive with flowers. Last Columbus Day there was a party at the reservoir where people drank hot cider, ate donuts, and planted daffodils and tulips. Regular readers of my blog have seen pictures of me sniffing the flowers.

I was out walking this morning hoping to sniff a few more flowers. The very warm days last week in combination with the very cold night last night took most of the life out of the flowers. I'll have to wait a spell to smell flowers now: once summer comes the gardens will be filled with flowers for me to smell again. Here is one last picture--caught the image right as the evening sun lit the tulip from behind.

Now where was I? I got distracted with thinking about frolicking in field. So yes, that's true. Part of my life is spent doing that. I also get to do a lot of galavanting around town. There are trips to the garden shop, weekly dog school, assorted drives to parks and trails, and of course I got to work every day in Cambridge.

It's that last part where I engage in my work as a therapy dog. Back in December I wrote about my friend Jerry. He's the homeless guy who I make a point of visiting every night on my way back to the car. It doesn't really matter what Jason wants to do--I pull and tug and otherwise insist that we walk to the spot on the sidewalk where he usually sits.

Jerry is a great guy: he also has a friend that I'm rather fond of too. She's convinced that I have special healing powers. A while back I did something that I hadn't done before: I went up on my back paws and put my front paws around her shoulders. The next day she found out she had a fever of 104 and was in the hospital being treated for a very serious condition. She attributes my attention as being what reminded her that she wasn't feeling well and needed to take care of herself. She is getting better but isn't out of the woods yet. I'm rooting for her.

Last night I played with Jerry and his friend for nearly an hour. It was so much fun for the three of us. I don't make judgments, don't have expectations, and don't ask for anything. I meet people where they are (in this case, literally right on the ground) with a wagging tail and open heart.

Jerry and his friend talked a lot about different observations they have made while sitting on the sidewalk. For example, they are convinced there is a shoe demon who lives under the bricks where they sit. All day long they watch the demon take women's shoes (heels fall off, ankles twist, and other such shoe travails) They also were talking a lot about animals last night. They asked if I was a rescue dog (yes, I am), and talked about different things they've heard about how people take care of animals in need. What was remarkable was this: two people with very little, living on the streets, struggling to survive, applauded the efforts of people who rescue abandoned and abused animals. Despite being people who many might say need rescuing themselves, my two friends found the wisdom to say that the measure of any person is how they care for those creatures most in need. I think my two friends are more wise than they can ever begin to know.

Jerry continues to remind me of the importance of slowing down, noticing my surroundings, and looking at things that many would rather not attend to. Are you willing to do the same?

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