Harley is 14 and retired from his Therapy Dog duties!…
November 25th the Friday after Thanksgiving – Harley celebrated his 14th year with us.
As the human equivalent of a 78 year old, he turned in his canine therapist badge, hung up his hospital embroidered leash and I removed him from the active duty roster.
Surprisingly to me, when I changed his status from “active” to “inactive” in the system that morning, I wasn’t sad at all. I found myself full of pride for all that he’d done for so many both here in Charleston as well as back in Virginia.
in my wildest dreams did I have an inkling of an idea of the journey he had planned for us.
You see, Harley’s the first dog I’ve ever raised as my own. Prior to him, I was “that person” who preferred not to come to your home because you had pets! #yep
Not sure how God was able to turn me around, but it had to be Him, because from the day we met, my life has been an indescribable experience.
And I owe it all – every single accomplishment to Harley….
In previous stories about Harley and his secret assignment to make me a therapy dog handler, I’ve shared how it all began with my 93 year old mother…
From there – he showed me his purpose, comforting and connecting with those suffering from memory loss and other debilitating illnesses associated with aging.
HIS MISSION –
became clearer when we moved to Charleston, SC and started volunteering at the Medical University.
For two years we strolled the children’s hospital making new friends every week. Before long, as we poked our heads through hospital doors, little humans who call out his name! There are many children who require hospitalization for regimented treatments, and being able to reunite with Harley made their visits a little brighter.
It was always a joy to watch Harley jump on their beds, and allow them to love on him as long as they wanted.
THEN ONE DAY –
I poked my head in the Volunteer Services office and asked the manager to remember me if she ever decided to hire additional staff – I was ready to get back into the work force.
I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.Revelation 3:8
Six months after coming onboard in the department, the role of Coordinator for the therapy animal program became available and I applied. #therestisHistory
volunteered for close to 12 years with a short relocation break and one 8 month long pandemic furlough. He specialized in children, not due to his ability to perform tricks or catch a ball, but because he resembled their favorite stuffed animal, who would cuddle on a bed and allow them to rub his hair for as long as required..
Riding at the foot of many a gurney headed into pre-op was a weekly occurrence…
In pre-op he would lie still as medical personnel sedated the small patient. Lot’s of times I would watch the tiny fingers relax and open slowly releasing his tail as they fell asleep.
Harley would then prance proudly into the waiting room area smiling at the parents who anxiously looked at us for some sort of sign. As they hugged his neck (and on occasion mine too) I assured them that their precious son or daughter was fast asleep and never even cried because he/she had Harley there with them.
THIS NEXT CHAPTER –
for Harley hasn’t been much of an adjustment. When he’s not napping, he’s never far from one of his humans…
During the week, Harley spends his new 9 to 5 hanging out with Doodle Dad. When the weather is bad, he’s perched on the landing watching traffic. Sunny days, you can find him on the porch keeping an eye on Lee as he dabble with “honey-do” projects.
He’s no longer a fan of car rides, so when he chooses not to go for a “Lowes run”, no one forces him.
I am so grateful for all that Harley has taught me, which in turn has set the standards for all those in the program I manage. He is the force behind everything that I do.
Thank you Harley, you’ve been an excellent teacher…
ONE MORE THING –
Jaxson has been training for several years to take the leash and continue Harley’s legacy. He’s more than ready and has come into his own, even at staff meetings…
For more than a year he’s shown me the incredible gifts he holds with assisting those in need of motivation with physical and occupational therapy. #moreonhimlater
Dogs are the best kind of therapy ❤️