Sunday, May 24, 2009

Safe Harbor Week 2

Our second therapy dog visit to Safe Harbor found Murphy not quite 100%. He and Cody, my yellow Lab, had gone to doggy daycare the previous day. They had lots of play time, got bathed, and had their nails trimmed. Unfortunately, Murphy somehow injured a pad on each of his back feet. This wasn't a terrible injury but it made walking (and getting in the car) uncomfortable for him for a day or two. After much consideration – I tell my students to never take a sick or injured dog on a therapy dog visit – I decided to go ahead an take Murph. Part of my thought process was not wanting to disappoint Carolyn, from week 1, in case she was there.

When we arrived I left Murphy in the car while I went inside and explained to staff what was going on. I wanted them to understand that I could bring my boy in but that if he got uncomfortable, we would have to leave. They were great about it and appreciative that we had made the effort to be there.

Back to the car I went, helped Murphy out and joined three kids whose Moms were in group therapy. Carolyn was there, as well as a nine-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. I put Murphy in a down/stay while I explained to them what had happened him. The response was pretty darned amazing. All three kids were sympathetic. They asked lots of questions, asked to see his injured pads, and were happy to simply hang out with him. Carolyn got bored and asked another volunteer to play a game with her in an adjacent room. Every few minutes she interrupted the game to check on Murphy, give him a little pat or a hug, say a few words, and bounce back to her game.

I was impressed with the empathy these children had for my dog. I don't know how much kindness they experience in their lives but they each know how to BE kind.

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