This being my first blog, I feel I’m venturing into new, unchartered territory. And the limitations of why I have not ventured down this road, tie into why I do the work with dogs that I do!
For me, ever since I was a little person, I have been drawn to dogs. They have been a slice of heaven for me. Fuzzy friends who are patient, so unconditionally loving and so responsive, to even my most annoying expectations of them.
4th grade was a stressful and scary world that created daily anxiety for me. My learning in both reading and math were below class level. It was noticeable to me and, I thought, to my fellow classmates. I often felt dumb. My valuation of myself was next to nothing when it came to how I measured up in the classroom. Often the teacher would create situations where we would either answer math problems on the classroom chalkboard or read a collective story OUT LOUD . For me, this was my worst nightmare!
So no surprise, I grew up hating to read – dreading to be exposed to my stupidity! This only cultivated more fear for me, and then became a vicious cycle of anxiety, failed expectations and stunted learning.
Fortunately growing up I had no shortage of animals in my life. And honestly, I think they saved me. I was exposed to dogs, cats, kittens, parakeets, guinea pigs, and life at a horse barn, all of which nurtured my creativity and sensitivity to animals.
As someone who thrives on service to people, when the opportunity arose to test and register both my dogs as Pet Therapy Dogs. I happily connected with a organization! My Portuguese Water Dog, Nalini and Yellow Lab, Leo both have been working weekly in a 3rd-grade classroom. We will be starting our fourth year this fall. We also enjoy visiting our local college for exam prep evenings. And in the summer we may frequent a summer camp or library.
Most recently my dad moved into a memory care unit for seniors. It has been a source of great joy for my dogs and me to visit them as well.
When children sit down to read to my dog, they experience a quiet, non-judgmental being that kisses their hands as they hold the book … sometimes they lie their head right into their lap and fall asleep. This warms my heart deeply.
Through the years, studies have been proving the positive attributes of what a dog does for people. Organizations have grown, and the need for therapy dogs can hardly keep up. I am now getting calls for training people and their puppies with the hope of sharing their dog as a future therapy dog. What could be better than that?