No, I Won’t Steal A Bus For You – Tails From Our Therapy Dog Travels

Our dog Oscar has been a certified Therapy Dog for about 5 years.  That basically means that we, Oscar in tow,  visit people to make them happy; and that Oscar is trained to tolerate certain things that not all dogs are used to: like wheelchairs, walkers, medical equipment, being molested, etc.

In New York City, we used to visit weekly at Saint Vincent’s Hospital, and now up here in New Hampshire we visit at a local nursing home.

 

Dynamic Duo - Mr. G on the left, Oscar on the right

Mr. Griffey is getting in on the act too – learning to be a therapy dog, which is also helping vastly with his internal insanity as he gets to meet more people who give him treats.  Today, Griffey got a great lesson in “bad touching” which is one thing that therapy dogs frequently have to put up with: overzealous petting/grabbing/mauling.   He was invited into bed with one of the regulars who we visit, and, much to the surprise of Mrs. Dynamite and me, Griffey launched himself right into the bed.  The resident immediately grabbed him in a big hug, which is not cool with Mr. Griffey.  Mrs. Dynamite and I jumped in with a chorus of “good boy good boy good boy” as Griffey eyed us furiously and with terror.  The good news is that he didn’t react badly, and he then laid down in the bed with the resident.

Later, we visited a hillarious old lady who I’ll call Ella (names have been changed).  Ella is right around 100 years old, and mostly deaf.  Today, matters were complicated by the fact that her hearing aids were missing on account of dead batteries.   She had this exchange with Mrs. Dynamite – and yes, we’ve met her before:

Ella: “What’s his name?”

Mrs. Dynamite: “MISTER GRIFFEY.”  I should probably make that a larger font – Mrs. Dynamite was yelling in an attempt to be heard.

Ella: “Misses what?”

Mrs. Dynamite: “MIS-TER GRIFF-EY.”

Ella: “Mississippi?  You watch too much TV.”

laughing all around….

A few weeks ago, another resident asked me if I could drive a bus.

“Nope,” I replied, “don’t know how.”

“Maybe you could boost one,” was the unexpected reply from her.

“Steal a bus?  I’m not sure that would be a good idea,” I explained

“I need you to take me to Merrick’s to get scallops.  They have the best scallops.” She was adamant.

“Really? They’re that good? Good enough to steal a bus for?”  I played along

“Oh yeahhhhhhhh,” she sighed, and then went back to her crafts project.

If you have a wicked awesome dog, look into sharing him with others by volunteering as a therapy dog team.  Delta Society and Therapy Dog International are the two main certification organizations.  We were originally certified with Delta, but they require re-testing every two years, and there was, amazingly, a lack of testers in the NYC area, so we ended up switching to TDI which doesn’t require re-testing with re-registration.   Other animals can be therapy animals too – we met a therapy pig at a Delta Society dinner years ago in New York, and there are also therapy horses, goats, and rabbits.

-KD

 

 

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