True Tales: One Golden Moment In The Life Of A Therapy Dog Named Sandy
By Rachele Baker, DVM – I am pleased to introduce Shirley Schowe as the author of this True Tale. Shirley shares her life and heart with a golden retriever named Sandy. Sandy is a therapy dog and she and Shirley work together as a team to bring a little happiness into the lives of those less fortunate. Here is Shirley’s story:
One Golden Moment In The Life Of A Therapy Dog Named Sandy
A number of years ago, I became involved in pet therapy volunteer work with my beautiful golden retriever Sandy. When she was twelve months old, I contacted a group that did therapy visits in our area to find out what was necessary for Sandy and I to become a pet therapy team. We were tested as a team on manners, appearance, social interaction, and stability. After we passed the test, we were scheduled for therapy visits at various locations.
Sandy and I visited nursing homes, hospitals, hospice homes, shelters for troubled teens, and a shelter for women in abusive relationships called Safehaven. Before each visit, I would prepare Sandy for the visit by grooming her and placing her therapy dog bandana or tag on. Then off we would go.
As we arrived at each facility, we would sign in because each organization needed to keep track of the visits that we made. Then Sandy and I would make our way into the rooms we were to visit that day. Not only were our visits enjoyable for the residents, the staff also looked forward to our visits. We always left with joy in our hearts.
Throughout the years we had many wonderful visits, but there was one visit that I will always remember. On that particular day, I witnessed just how special my girl Sandy was on a visit to Safehaven, the facility for abused women and their children.
At Safehaven that day, we made the rounds in a special visitation room with mothers and children. The children were asked if they would like to walk Sandy around the room and enjoy having her there for a while. We interacted with most of the children and then we came upon one young boy who was in very low spirits. He had to leave his dog at home and he was saddened and confused by what he was facing at home. When I asked him if he would like to walk Sandy around, he declined. He thought it might make him even sadder. So we visited with others in the room.
After a while, the young boy decided to walk Sandy. He found out that he really enjoyed walking Sandy around. It even put a little smile on his face – which filled my heart with joy.
After Sandy and I finished our rounds with all the children, we sat down to visit a little more. And do you know what my Sandy girl did? She sensed that little boy needed her for comfort, so she sat close to him for the rest of the visit. It is a visit that I will never forget. The love and compassion that my Sandy showed that day solidified my belief that therapy dogs are a vital part of the healing process in many situations. I am so happy that Sandy and I are able to be part of that.
About the Author: Shirley Schowe was born and raised on a dairy farm in Berne, Minnesota. She has devoted many hours volunteering with her therapy dog Sandy. For many years, she has also enjoyed being a pet sitter in the Kansas City, Missouri area.
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