marciahaydenUncategorized January 25, 2021 4 Minutes
Being a Therapy Dog Team during a World Pandemic, leads to a few challenges. How do you keep your dog socialized, how do you help them adjust to the different requirements, when you do get to visit, how do you find different ways to fill in the gap?
Keeping them socialized is very important. They need that interaction with friendly strangers to keep them use to new situations and changing events. Again we used the local businesses that allow dogs to visit. We take Charlie to Tractor Supply and Lowes, which allows him to see different people and deal with different and changing experiences every time we go. That is always a good outing for him.
Our local assisted living center that Charlie use to visit has started doing “Sunshine Visits” which allows us as a team to visit one person at a time in an open area. We must wear N-95 masks and practice social distancing. That is a little harder to do, since Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires the dog to be on a 3ft leash. Again, changing situations require flexibility, and we are doing our best to meet the guidelines of both organizations.
Dogs Never Forget a Friend
What we have learned through the regular visiting of residents at the assisted living centers is that dogs build attachments to people. The learn their scents, facial expressions and mannerisms. Often times they both build lasting friendships. For Charlie, finally getting to re-visit his “Good Buddy” Floyd, was a wonderful experience. We wondered if Charlie would remember him, and then on top of it all, it was not a place in the facility he had ever been. In the past, Charlie visited Floyd in his private residence. Floyd was generally in a recliner when we would visit.
For this visit, Floyd approached Charlie in a motorized wheel chair. Since Charlie had been exposed to those before as a puppy, he was not surprised at all. He approached Floyd as Floyd was driving up to him; Charlie simply backed up until Floyd stopped. Floyd was wearing a mask, but was calling out to Charlie as he approached. Charlie’s tail wagging all the while. He knew his friend, no matter where he was. It was such a heart warming experience to see them reconnect. Floyd shared some treats with Charlie, and we brought some Vanilla Wafers, which Charlie only has when he would visit Floyd. Floyd actually introduced Charlie to this treat, and Charlie slobbers and drools with delight each time he gets one. Since we had been working on new tricks, Charlie also showed Floyd, and avid animal lover himself, his new tricks, and ended their time together by waving Bye, Bye. Needless to say, it was an Awesome visit for Charlie and Floyd, different, but Charlie nor Floyd seemed to care.
How a Bond Builds
I’ve written in previous articles, how Charlie and our neighbor, Pastor Asa developed a friendship from the time he was an 8 week old puppy. Charlie visited Pastor Asa and his wife, Debbie several times through the year. Sadly in November of 2019, Debbie passed away suddenly. At that point, Charlie and Asa became “Porch Buddies” as Charlie was there to help Asa during his grieving period.
Then in March of 2020, the world changed due to Covid 19 and a World Pandemic. Suddenly, Pastor Asa had no way to minister to his congregation except through the internet and phone calls. Charlie who was use to going and visiting three assisted living centers and the local schools four and five days a week, had no interaction beyond his family.
What took place was a truly amazing thing. We believe a gift from God. Charlie began to visit Asa on his porch almost daily. Sometimes, they’d play and go for walks, many times the two of them just sat together on Pastor Asa’s porch.https://www.instagram.com/p/CJe1A-5JXDO/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=13&wp=658&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fpawprintsontheheart.blog&rp=%2F2021%2F01%2F25%2Ffilling-in-the-gap%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A2213%7D
When we would go to take Charlie for his daily walks, he always looked over to see if Asa, was out. He still does that to this day. If for some reason he missed seeing Pastor Asa for a day or two, he would pull me over to the front of his yard, and sit there staring, or lie down and wait. Thankfully, I was able to message Pastor Asa through messenger, and send him a picture of Charlie in front of his house, and when possible, Pastor Asa would come out. The relationship which developed between these two was anything but Supernatural.
Slowly the world began to open back up, but the special bond was made. To this day, Charlie looks for Asa, and I have to admit, I’ve seen Pastor Asa look for Charlie. Many times I get a message that says, “What’s Charlie up to?” We generally go as quickly as possible.
In early January of 2021, Pastor Asa tested positive for Covid 19 and was pretty sick. He and Charlie were separated for over three weeks. This was a tough time for both of them. Finally, when it was safe for Pastor Asa to come back out of what he called “Time Out” the reunion between the two of them was so very heart warming. True joy was evident between the two.https://www.instagram.com/p/CKSSb6VpJHg/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=13&wp=658&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fpawprintsontheheart.blog&rp=%2F2021%2F01%2F25%2Ffilling-in-the-gap%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A2231%7D
Charlie is Our “Puppy With A Purpose”
I’ve mentioned many times throughout these pages how God opened doors to give us everything we prayed for and more. God continues to amaze us with this wonderful companion, not just for us, but to be shared with others. From beginning to the present, God has blessed our desire to have a “Puppy with a Purpose” to use however HE sees fit. If you haven’t read about Charlie’s journey please go back and read how we acquired him, trained him as well as ourselves to become a Therapy Dog Team. It is the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done.
One more thing, when Charlie isn’t doing therapy work, he is a very normal two year old, yes puppy. If you’d like to follow him he has a Facebook page, Charlie The Therapy Dog, and an Instagram Account @charliethetherapy You will be able to see his daily life with his brother Jack’son, his Norman the Cat, and the rest of our family.
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Published by marciahayden
Before retiring from the teaching profession, I was advised by a good friend, to find what I wanted to retire “to”. This lead to a lot of prayer and self-reflection, which then lead me to acquire a Golden Retriever Puppy, specifically to train/educate to become, a Therapy Dog. That was just the beginning of the journey, which my husband and I have begun to take, along with “Puppy with a Purpose”. View all posts by marciahaydenPublishedJanuary 25, 2021
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