Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Therapy Pet Visits...therapy for all involved


Last Saturday, we had the pleasure of another therapy pet visit to a local Charlotte living center. While all are special, this particular living center has recently become our responsibility to organize. Formerly known as Greyhound Therapy Group, our mentor and therapy dog 'tester' is growing our local program and while concentrating her efforts on a living center newly added to our Pet Therapy list of centers, has entrusted this one to our team for its organization.




Another individual that was in on the ground floor of the development of Pet Therapy, Inc. visitations in our area, Barb, just recently had forwarded a discussion on building better skills during our visitations and helping us make more of a difference to those that we share time with. Two techniques noted in this briefing that I've added to individual visits were 1) shaking hands during initial greetings and 2) a new, more effective way of talking with the residents. Shaking hands seems like a no brainer, but somehow, the value of it escaped me until reading this and working with it. Granted, there are those in these centers that may be too weak or have lost interest in physical human contact, but to those that were receptive, it improved our human connection as two individuals and a dog that would like to share a few moments together.




In this 'Building Better Skills' pamplet, it was suggested that when confronted with a situation where a resident wants to discuss their condition, share their fears, or simply ask for help, that we build on what they are saying to us. If a resident is distressed, share their concern and use the words they are using. One special lady we met kept repeating her name, several times repeating my name is Florence ****er. Florence looked into my eyes and said "can you help me". My first thoughts were that she was going to ask me to do something I could never do for her such as help her leave the center. Remember what I had just read, I simply said "what can I do to help you"? Florence, in her very weak voice, told me she would like to sit up better. What a simply request that I would have never even known of if I had followed m old ways. Of course, having no knowledge of her medical condition, I couldn't do that myself but a quick trip to the 'nursing central' brought a friendly face that DID have knowledge and had Florence sitting up and happy in a matter of minutes. Florence could have lay there uncomfortable all day. I could have felt I had done a good job as a pet therapy team, but have really missed an opportunity to make a very small difference in someone's life that day.




Deciding to become a pet therapy team through Therapy Dogs, Inc. has been a more rewarding experience then I ever thought. It is therapy for Astrid, a big, black and often object of discrimination and fear Rottweiler, as she walks the halls and enters the rooms of the residents. She is changing minds and hearts about her breed. It is therapy for the residents of these living centers who so often miss their pets of yesteryear that they could hold and pet. It is therapy for me and Astrid's dad in that every time we leave, we feel just a little more in touch with humanity and what it really means to be interconnected with our fellow humans.




There are lots of therapy pet organizations out there, each with their own special mission. We found a perfect match between our big, black former shelter dog and the Therapy Dogs, Inc. visiting group in our area.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

That was a wonderful post to read, it really touched me. I think what you are doing is so vital. The elderly are often so neglected and forgotten. A doggy visit is fantastic therapy.
In the past I have been in hospital because of mental illness. A nurse would bring her dogs to work and it was astonishing to see how they would bring people to life. Patients who never spoke or smiled seemed to wake up,come alive again. The dogs were more effective than medicine! And of course you can tell a dog anything, they wont judge, they patiently listen.
anyway, enjoy the oldies
have a beautiful day:)