COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

By Thursday, January 31, 2019 10 No tags Permalink

Developing a few coping mechanisms for my therapy dogs seemed like a good idea after friends and family kept asking me if they were getting stressed out.

While “subject matter experts” believe therapy dogs do not get stressed out, I still think they deserve an opportunity to unwind (in their own way) after a full day of therapy work.

Both of them work with me – four days a week…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

The three of us share office space (I call it our “gated community”) with five other pet loving humans.

Our mornings begin with a stroll to Starbucks. We are creatures of habit – Hazelnut coffee and a Puppuccino fuel us until noon…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

THERAPY WORK – 

Pet therapy dog team handlers are trained, tested volunteers – certified by a national pet/animal therapy organization. The majority of these organizations limit a therapy team to two hour shifts per day. 

Harley and Jaxson have different rules since I am “employed” by the hospital – there are no restrictions regarding time limits. So I must manage their time smartly and observe their body language closely. 

Everyday is different.

Harley may need to spend quality time with an anxious patient prepped for a procedure. If her blood pressure is too high, it is not uncommon for a request of a therapy dog to help lower it naturally…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

Jaxson may answer a call to one of the intensive care units because a nurse is having difficulty with the loss of a patient…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

The variety of requests we receive are constant. We can spend hours walking hospital halls. If there isn’t a team available, one of my Boys will pick up the slack.

Everywhere I go, they go – to include meetings…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

OUR COPING MECHANISMS – 

The Doods are very different in many ways therefore so are their coping mechanisms. On our busier days, I am mindful of this and do my best to cater to their individual needs.

When they both work all day, I allow them “off leash” time on campus as we walk to the parking garage…

Our evening walks after dinner are significantly slower, shorter and quiet. They take care of bathroom business and then we’re back inside…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

When we get home Harley collapses. He wants to lounge, yet he insists on being around me. On those days, I’ll drag his favorite bed into the kitchen and he’ll relax the entire evening watching me cook, clean, and write…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGSThese are also the nights he sleeps with me. He snuggles against the back of my legs and remains there until dawn. Even though I’m “stuck like chuck” and cannot move, I allow him that closeness because it seems to be important to him.

 

Jaxson is a different kind of Dood. He continues to go at warp speed after work, at home, after dinner, and even after our evening walk. But, when he goes down – usually around 7:00pm, he has a tendency to “fall out” anywhere…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

…and that’s pretty much where he remains until dawn!

PERSONAL TIME OFF –

At least once a week – they take a PTO day. On those days they hang out with Doodle Dad. They have leisure mornings, yard work activities, free play on the soccer field and trips to Southern Lumber…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

I like breaking up their work week, adding some variety in their day. If Jax has occupational therapy in the morning with a patient, I may run him home at lunchtime or Lee and Harley will scoop him up along their way.

It’s wonderful to have them with me at work…

COPING MECHANISMS FOR MY THERAPY DOGS

…and I love watching them bring such joy to everyone they come in contact with – but I’m determined to maintain balance in their world.

The journey of life is sweeter when traveled with a dog ❤️

10 Comments
  • Cheryl
    January 31, 2019

    What a great post! I enjoy reading all your posts, but this one was especially enjoyable. I think it’s because I got such a detailed view of the boys day, and depending on their personality, how they each deal with it.
    Enjoy the coming weekend.
    Smiles,

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 3, 2019

      Thanks Cheryl – We love sharing our adventures and it always makes me smile to know people enjoy following along! I am trying to make sure I keep balance in their lives especially Harley’s I can see he’s aging, and I want to protect that. They are making a huge impact with the patients, it’s a beautiful thing to see.

  • Madison
    January 31, 2019

    It’s so great you all work together and enjoy it so much.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 3, 2019

      We like spending time together also Madison. It’s nice to see them make so many people happy.

  • Shadow's & Ducky's Mom
    February 1, 2019

    Loving this post, as Cheryl said, for the details of your days and how “the Doods” cope and wind down. I’m so glad the 3 of you enjoy the work so much!

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 3, 2019

      Thanks so much! I am trying so hard to make sure I don’t over work them.

  • Pamela Webster
    February 1, 2019

    This is such a wonderful post–perhaps one of your best ever.

    It’s such a great reminder that we expect a lot of our dogs to live in our worlds (even when they aren’t professional therapy dogs). And it’s important to listen to them and know when they just need to be dogs.

    It’s also true that to give, we need to replenish ourselves. And I see no reason why dogs would be any different.

    BTW, Jaxon and Harley are my favorite wrestlers.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 3, 2019

      Thank you Pam. Your words mean a great deal. I am trying to maintain balance especially since they are working more days with me. I intend to look into more training for all the therapy teams this year. I want all of the dogs to get as much help as they give love to all the patients in the hospital. I want them to be at their healthiest, both physically and emotionally. I appreciate you sharing this post on social media too!

  • Monika, Sam & Elsa
    February 2, 2019

    The longer Sam does his therapy work, the closer eye I keep on him. At over 13, he’s not the spring chicken he once was and recovery is vital to his overall health. You guys showed such enthusiastic recharging in the video. Bravo.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 3, 2019

      That’s their last surge before dinner and an evening walk. After that – it’s lights out. How does Sam unwind?

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