Oh man, says a co-worker, I just finished an ugly phone conversation. Our Human Resources manager has come in late to our budget meeting in progress. Because of privacy laws and just plain moral fortitude, she really can’t share any more and is left with that nasty feeling that comes with internalizing stress.
Yeah, I think, I’m familiar with that heavy, queasy in the mid-section, kind of sensation. You too? When you have that visceral need to unload some of this, well, crap that life has stuffed into you. Oh, ugh, was that more literal than figurative? Sorry about that. But you know, right? You just can’t share the burden that’s eating you. Or because of a sense of martyrdom cleverly disguised as pride, you won’t.
We get so busy in our own worries, focused on the things that are circling about our heads like a cloud of gnats. As human beans we miss a lot of cues from our friends and family. Those subtle markings that define stress in other folk. Unless someone tells us that the Suck Scale is tagging a high point that day, we may not see the extra quiet mood. The person who’s not engaging in the conversation. The usual spring in the step is missing. And if we do ask, are you ok?, we might get the succinct reply, yeah, I’m fine.
So as if a budget meeting isn’t enough giddy fun on a Monday morning, my friend and co-worker walks into the room with a bit of fresh-from-the-phone emotional baggage. A few minutes in, I do the obligatory peek under the table to make sure the mighty Micron has not broken his Down-Stay. In Micron’s world (picture everyone as a muppet who talks in sing-song) an implied down-stay is solid so long as his belly doesn’t leave the carpet. This reasoning, of course, allows a stealthy army crawl to a new destination.
And crawled he has, the big goober. Right over to lay his head on my friend’s feet. He passes by three pairs of stylin’ shoes to reach the person who needs his Micron-ness the most. And by her own admission, she’s not even a dog person.
What does Micron know that we don’t? Without verbal cues, he seeks out a person who needs comfort. Is it an emotional aura, a particular scent we have when stressed? A kind of sixth sense unique to dogs?
Sure, this story is anecdotal and could stand on its own as a happy Micron tale. But the dog has done this thing again and again. He seeks out the soul in the room that craves a calming influence. Since he was a cotton ball pup, he’s been the office go-to dog for reducing blood pressure. Folk stop by my cube just to spend a Micron moment before continuing on with their workday. Ah, a magical belly rub. Talk about a win-win.
|That’s it, young people. Just relax now.|
We do know that the fluffy, friendly -and highly distractable- mighty Micron is not made of service dog stuff. Just not gonna be his destiny. I’ve always said though, there’s just too much dog happening here for just our humble family. I need to share this dog’s gifts. I must.
So here we go, I’ve signed the yellow goofball up for therapy dog classes. We’ve decided on Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association as our organization of choice. A volunteer run group of passionate folk who take this therapy stuff very serious. In many ways, I’m reminded of CCI in their very high standards.
|See? Just looking at him makes you feel like a nap, doesn’t it.|
Micron has an advantage as a past CCI puppy in all the socialization skills he’s got under his dog collar. No worries there. What does have me concerned with the goober, however, is that incessant lust for life. So over these next ten weeks of training, we’re focusing on introducing him to the concept of self-control. Oh yeah, sez Micron, that again.
Oh, and that weird obsessive thing he has for stuffed toys. The retriever in him requires something soft and fluffy in his maw. Small stuffed animals are this super dog’s kryptonite. Chihuahuas in cute sweaters included (sorry about that one time, Ruby). We’re working on this too. Stuffed toys are not bad, per se and all. But you can’t be snatching the things from little kid’s hands, then stand there and wag your tail at them. Not becoming of a therapy dog, you know.
So what is the difference between a Skilled Service Dog and a Therapy Dog involved in animal assisted therapy? A lot, actually. Maybe even more than most people realize. Just as a Guide Dog is a whole nuther animal than a Service Dog, so to speak. Ah, but fodder for another post. Stay tuned, we’ll cover this as well.
|I wish this was a chihuahua in a sweater, sez Mcron|
How’s Micron gonna do with this Therapy Dog training, you ask? Not sure yet. It’s even possible he may not pass the final exam, that’s how tough the testing is. Just proof of the high standards of mvPTa, in my experienced opinion. We’re told if we don’t pass the Therapy Team exam, it doesn’t mean we can’t do this thing. Instead it’s merely an indicator that we’re not quite ready yet. And we can train and try again.
I do believe that Micron brings happiness and a sense of peace to the world at large. No, not believe. I’ve seen the Micron phenomena with my own hazel eyes. The dog has a gift.
Now only if I didn’t have to finger sweep that little cat toy out of his maw at last week’s training class. [sigh]