Monday, April 5, 2010

Giving back to our village.

Dallas and Deacon have been working for sometime as therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament.

A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact.

I had great plans for Dallas when we started this process.  I had plans of visiting adult facilities and children’s hospitals.  Like all the women in this family Dallas had plans of her own. 

It became apparent when Dallas was a puppy and I would take her to work with me that Dallas connected with children in crisis. Behavioral disorders, mental illness, emotional issues….all things that she can sense and know when and where she is needed. Deacon by default has come along for the ride.

Since Christmas we have been visiting some children in one of my schools that serves children with severe emotional behavior disorders and Autism. The look on the dogs face as I tell them it is “time to go to work” and the excitement that they have as we drive to the school is contagious.

I am always amazed that Dallas will sit and allow the kids to touch every hair on her foot (while we can not get near her nails to cut them), will smile pretty as they look at her teeth and measure how big they are, will catch 100 peanuts in a row as each child takes a turn to throw a handful and will lay peacefully as children lay on her (she is SO not a lap dog at home). She knows exactly what they need the moment she walks into the room.

Deacon was the mystery…not having been raised as a puppy with this job in mind…we had no idea how he would take to this role.  He has far surpassed any goals we set. While Dallas usually walks the room to visit with everyone…Deacon immediately seems to know who needs him the most that day. He enters the room scanning each child…picks his “mark” and then snuggles in for an hour of belly rubbing.  No matter what the crisis they just can not ignore him as he looks at them with soulful eyes…and climbs up into their lap with a grunt.

We are blessed in many ways in this family…this is one of the greatest blessings to me…I always feel refreshed, humbled and have a new sense of purpose after my weekly visits.

(I have blocked out the faces to protect the children's privacy)
MAMS 021 01 MAMS 022 01 (Isn’t my jacket the cutest?)MAMS 017 01 MAMS 018 01 MAMS 019 01 MAMS 020 01
It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.

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