January 31, 2011

A Therapy Dog Visit - aka I had to write a narrative for school and wrote it about something dog-related so it could double as a blog post :)

I spent last Saturday morning playing tug, scent games, and other games to tire Mya out without having to go outside, since it was freezing outside. Grabbing the dog backpack that is filled with items I might need or want to have when out and about with my dog, I set to stuffing in my folder that holds all the forms I need for dog activities, string cheese, and some props for tricks. I was taking Mya on a therapy dog visit to Barnes and Noble for their story time.

We arrived early to allow Mya a few minutes to become accustomed to her surroundings and to let the dogs greet each other. Right as we walked in the door we spotted Freya, a Newfoundland, and she and Mya were instantly friends. Back in the kids' section with the stage for story time we found other therapy dogs, including Rowdy the Lab/Catahoula mix, Tunaq the small Poodle mix and Bella the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Soon the rest of the dogs arrived. Gabby and Mr. Dillion the Samoyeds, Abby the German Shepherd Dog, Raynee the Papillon and a Welsh Springer Spaniel were among the other dogs to come that day.

Once all the dogs and their handlers had arrived, we started the introductions, starting with the smallest (the Papillon) up the the biggest (the Newfoundland). We also talked to the kids about how to stay safe around loose dogs and how to greet friendly dogs. After that we had a "dog parade" around the kids' section with the dogs heeling so the kids could see all of the dogs moving. Then we gathered all the dogs up on the stage so everyone could see the different sizes and colors of all the dogs all at once.

After that, one therapy dog handler read stories. During this I sat with Mya and the rest of the handlers and dogs all around and in with the kids so they could pet and cuddle the dogs while listening to the books being read. After the books were finished we let the kids practice what we had taught them that day about asking before petting dogs and the safe way to pet new dogs. We answered questions about therapy dogs and our dogs. I lost count of how many times people asked me what breed Mya was and were then shocked that she was a Lab/English Springer cross because she looked like a Labrador puppy.

All in all it was a great therapy dog visit! We educated a lot of kids and spread a lot of happiness. I love having a therapy dog! It allows me to spread the cheer I feel around my dog and to give some people who may not have much light in their lives a little bit of happiness that day.

Alex and Mya :)