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Thursday, June 27, 2013

If I'm At the Hospital, It Must Be Monday

Here I am, proudly wearing my official Therapy Dog International bandana and my very own photo  I.D. volunteer badge last Monday. I'm about to start my job at the hospital.  My partner, Lily, wasn't able to come. Lily is a West Highland Terrier. People say she looks just like the Cesar in the dog food commercials. I wouldn't know. My food doesn't come from those commercials.

So Monday began as usual. After posing for my picture I examined all of the bushes at this private entrance just for me. My own private 'wee-wee station'! We then checked in with Nancy in the Volunteer Services. No patient rooms had been requesting visits, so we were free to roam around anywhere. 

To my great relief, I heard my mom tell Nancy,"We're going to take it easy since Lily's not here and just go sit around the waiting areas." 
Now that's what I call a plan! I don't like the patient rooms. I can't explain it, I just get kinda anxious. The rooms are tiny and crammed with mysterious apparatus that I never see at home. And don't get me started on the smells. 

Our first stop after check-in is at Physical Therapy. That department is run by a beautiful lady, Ann. She keeps an entire drawer of treats of all sizes and shapes. She buys special steak-shaped treats just for me. Oh, Ann is wonderful. (sshhh...I'm not supposed to get treats on visits, but technically I'm not 'on duty' yet, right?)

Then I let the folks admire me. I give each one a delicate little sniff. Sadly most people see my bandana and reach right for my head. I don't really like that much. It violates basic dog manners. I mean, just because the human volunteers wear badges, you don't see people patting their heads without an introduction, do you? However, if people will stand still for a moment and let me check them out, I'll usually allow some friendly petting. Standoffish? I don't know. I don't give my heart freely to just anybody though. I let Lily do that.

On occasion there's a real dog person, as I know instantly when they pat my back, just above my hind legs next to my tail. Ohh, that feels so good!

Next I greet the ladies staffing the Garden Entrance and the volunteers at the Main Entrance. They all know me, and say hello. They don't reach for my head - except one new lady. Consequently she thinks I don't like her. I'm reserving judgement, hoping she catches on to the right spot.

Then I ride upstairs on the elevator to the surgical waiting areas. I like the elevator. I know which doors will open when I hear the bell ding above them, and I walk right to the back and sit down. When the doors open again, we are in a new place entirely! How does it do that? And why does it never take me to the park or the frozen yogurt place?

Ho hum, folks looking bored, waiting in chairs. Some are asleep. Most of them are even older than  mom and dad, if you can imagine such a thing. I cheer them up by walking by, giving sniffs, saying hello. Mom takes a chair and chats with these nice strangers while I pull up a piece of floor and take my first rest. They usually ask lots of questions about why I'm at the hospital, how I became a therapy dog, and whether I belong to mom - some are surprised to learn that she is lucky enough to live with me!

But this past Monday a special treat awaited me in the second waiting area. As we walked in, an adorable child about 4 years old in a purple t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers ran to me. I was surprised; we almost never see children at the hospital. My tail popped right up and wagged. I smiled at the little girl. She introduced herself, Joey, and let me sniff her shirt while mom told her my name, Toby. She patted my back (not my head) and chattered away about her grandma's dog.

Joey asked if she could hold my leash. Mom asked Joey's grandma if she could walk down the hall and back with us. I was so proud to lead Joey slowly past the tall windows and other visitors. Automatic doors to our left swung open, but mom cued me, "This way Toby" and I turned around and brought Joey safely back to her grandma. Joey laughed. She wanted to do it again. So we did. Then Joey asked if I could go home with her. No, but we could and did walk down the hall one more time. I said goodbye to Joey - several times. She wanted me to stay longer, but my mom saw that I was getting tired. She knew it was time to go back down the elevator, get a drink and check out at Volunteer Services, then go home.

As I sprawled in the back seat on the ride home I thought of how much fun I'd had with Joey. Maybe mom will find another place for me to visit with lots of kids around. I think I might have to take a second job.
Playing with my grandkid :)


houndstooth said...

I'm really fond of visiting the human puppies at Mom's school, as long as I don't have to stay for too long. It can get tiring after a while, but I love how happy they always are!


Molly The Wally said...

We think you did very well Toby as it is early days. Maybe you should visit little ones who are sick but we are sure all the folks will benefit from your sweet nature. Nice one Toby. Have a tremendous Thursday.
Best wishes Molly

Golden Woofs! SUGAR said...

That is PAWsome. I do miss visiting patience in the hospital and small children in schools. But I do see a lots of them at the park .... LOVE your 1st photo. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

Misaki @ misadventuresofMisaki said...

Sounds like you had a great day!

Caren Gittleman said...

What fun!! So happy that you met Joey because it sounds like he made you have a super good time! Dakota isn't a therapy dog, but when my father-in-law was alive he lived in the Alzheimer's unit in a nursing home here and we often brought Dakota to visit him and the other residents. Dakota was always so patient and gentle, I should have him trained to be a therapy dog too!

Amy said...

That does sound like a lot of fun!

Amy said...

The children's hospital has a 1 year waiting list for therapy dogs! But I thought maybe a school or library environment.

Amy said...

I'll bet you are something of a celebrity at the park Sugar!

Amy said...

We sure did!

Amy said...

Most of the test is the CGC obedience test. Then they check for being scared of loud noises and the dreaded "leave it" command. I'll bet Dakota would be an awesome therapy dog.

Ann Staub said...

Hi Toby - so nice to meet you :) You're a very handsome dog with such an awesome job! I've added your blog to my feed as well. I don't know why GFC won't allow me to log out of my daughter's account...

Amy said...

Thank you that is great news!

GizmoGeodog said...

You're a good dog toby...I just know you bring joy to everyone you visit

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