URGENT CALL FOR THERAPY DOGS

By Monday, January 31, 2022 8 No tags Permalink

Earlier this year I received an urgent call for therapy dogs to visit an elementary school.

This request was unique because the therapy animal program I manage was created to share tail wagging happiness with care team members…

patients, family members…

and on occasion I accept invitations to venture out into the community. But those are generally recreational events like baseball games…

or bus rides to a holiday parade…

This call was different, this one was urgent, this one brought me to my knees.

THERE ARE NO WORDS – 

When someone tells you about the sudden passing of a young child, there are no words of comfort that seem appropriate to me. 

As I listened and as the words rang in my ears, I tried to make sense of what I was hearing. I quietly prayed that I had misunderstood.

As the teacher spoke, the details of –

  • how
  • when
  • what happened

– were irrelevant. A nine year old child was never going back to school again and classmates were suffering, struggling – trying to comprehend it all.

The teachers, also grieving – silently – as they tried to comfort their students, were searching for help. On site counselors made themselves available, but for many of the children, articulating emotions when dealing with loss can stifle verbal communication.

Can you bring some therapy dogs to the school?

That’s what she asked me. And without hesitation or reservation – my answer was a soft whisper – 

Yes

PROVIDING COMFORT – 

It’s important to know – ALL dogs can provide comfort to humans who are grieving, or suffering from depression. However, therapy dogs are generally trained and accustomed to the task required when it comes to strangers. 

Therapy dogs allow those grieving to receive some comfort and relieve their stress and anxiety for a bit. This is especially true for grieving children who may not be comfortable talking about their feelings with adults. Therapy dogs give them someone to talk to and comfort them during an emotional and confusing time.

To adequately cover multiple classrooms, I calculated a need of at least a dozen teams. The response to my email was overwhelming and by COB I had a list of thirteen!

That evening, Jaxson and I counted out 100 hand sanitizing pens for each student…

CANINE THERAPISTS – 

At work I affectionally refer to the human component of each therapy team as Uber Drivers and I call the real superstars – Canine Therapists

Why? Because the handler does the driving – the dog does the work!

Meet some of the sweetest Uber Drivers and Canine Therapists on the planet…

Yes! Jaxson and I are wearing matching Polo sweaters! #dogthreads

The students were elated to see the dogs and Jax was a pawfectionist at his J.O.B…

Photo permission granted

Collecting his trading cards kept everyone giggling as they compared his stats on the back…

Photo permission granted

I received a great deal of smiles and winks from the teachers as they pressed the palms of their hands over their hearts letting me know how much they appreciated the dogs presence.

BITTERSWEET – 

As Jax and I rode back to work, the word bittersweet popped into my mind, I now have a personal relationship with its meaning –  

an emotional feeling that is a mixture of both happy and sad. 

While I always adore watching children interact with Jax (and all the therapy dogs), that day as I smiled I remembered what brought us to the school and my heart felt weighted. 

As we entered the hospital, the word I decided which best described my morning was gratitude. I was grateful to be a part of an experience that created a positive memory with those children. One hopefully, they can replay in their minds over and over again as needed to get through the long days ahead.

The best therapists have fur and four legs ❤️

Learn more about becoming a therapy dog handler Uber Driver

8 Comments
  • Cheryl
    January 31, 2022

    Dogs, pets in general, give us so much! I’m so glad you and your partners could help these children and their teachers! Thank you!

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 10, 2022

      It was our pleasure to be there and bring some solace if only for a brief moment.

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    January 31, 2022

    Bless you for providing a measure of comfort for so many impacted by the unthinkable. Indeed, therapy dogs provide a remarkable gift for humans of all stripes. And speaking of stripes, I love your matching sweaters.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 10, 2022

      Every day it is a true joy to watch these remarkable creatures instinctively do what they do!

  • PAT
    January 31, 2022

    You are so giving on what you do. The smiles on the children faces says it all.

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 10, 2022

      Thank you so much Pat – it is a blessing and an honor to be able to do what we do!

  • Greg Reid
    January 31, 2022

    I loved reading about the joy and comfort Jax and his fellow therapist brought to those young souls. It made my eyes sweat while reading!

    • Cathy Bennett
      February 10, 2022

      Hi Greg – Thanks so much. We are about to do something with the US Army and Sex Trafficking training, so stay tuned.The Boys are changing what’s possible in healthcare and I love being a part of it all.