Unleash a Smile: Dog Therapy Appreciation Day
April 11th is Dog Therapy Appreciation Day
Hi there! My name is Maisey and I am a seven-year-old golden retriever. I am also a therapy dog.
Many people have questions about what therapy dogs do. It’s a very good question. We are dogs with special training to interact with many different groups of people and help others deal with stress or overcome a physical or emotional challenge. We go with our owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Dogs like me, are important and may play a key role in a person’s recovery or stress management because we’re non-judgmental and love interacting with people no matter who they are. I always say, “I’ve never met someone I didn’t like.” When I’m at the hospital, I know I’m working and have a very important job to do; however, at home, we are just like any other dog. I love to play on the golf course near my house, beg for treats, and cuddle with my owners at home.
A few years ago, my human, Sally, and I started volunteering at The University of Vermont Medical Center. You can find us walking the halls, visiting different units throughout the hospital almost every Friday! I always know Sally and I are going to the hospital when she ties my bandana around my neck. I wear this special bandana only when we are going to volunteer to show everyone that I am a trained therapy dog. I wag my tail out of excitement because I know that when she gets my bandana out, we are going to go on a car ride to see new friends!
One of my favorite parts of any visit is when Sally and I make our rounds through the Inpatient Pediatric unit. They have an awesome playroom with so many toys for the kids to play with! I love spending time with the kids because I think they give the best scratches. I enjoy going because every time I visit I get to meet new people. Sometimes, the same patients from the last visit will be there, and we’ll just pick up where we left off, with the good belly scratches. I can get scratched until their hands are sore, and it still won’t ever be enough. And don’t worry, I never forget to give love to the other hard workers in the unit.
Another place I love visiting are the waiting rooms. Sally tells me that these places in the hospital are especially important to visit because some of these people may need a little extra love. One time during one of my visits, one of my new friends said: “You are one the calmest dogs, I’ve ever met.” I thanked them by licking their face because that was one of the nicest compliments you could give me.
The next time you see me or another therapy dog, it’s OK if you don’t want to pet us. For many people, it can still be calming to be in the presence of a dog. I see many patients who only like having me in the room with them but don’t feel comfortable petting me or giving me scratches. I won’t treat you any differently than someone who loves to pet me.
If you see me in the hall, whether you are a patient, employee, or visitor, don’t be afraid to approach Sally and me! We love meeting as many people as we can during a visit!
April 7-13th is National Volunteer Week. Make sure you thank a volunteer and share your appreciation for them this week.