This month Micron and I will celebrate our first year anniversary of graduating Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association as an animal assisted Therapy Dog Team.
So using photos from a recent Healthy Kids Fair event, Micron and I are here to wax all philosophical on y’all about this past year’s volunteer gig in pet therapy.
Our top five things we love about pet therapy
|Hey, Food Lady! Let’s do the Cartoon Dog trick again!
You hold the leash real tight and I’ll do that
scrambly running thing.
1. Experiencing exotic locales in the nether regions
Micron demonstrates his comfort level on placing his nethers on different surfaces. He gives absolutely no mind to slick floors nor pokey mulch. In our travels we find retirement facilities have smooth flooring that’s a little slippery for dog paws, but libraries are usually carpeted. And the floors of elevators are pretty much random; you never know until the doors open.
I love that Micron is so well socialized and flexible about whatever may be down there supporting his weight under those baseball mitt paws that he walks into any venue with confidence. Because a worried dog is not a happy dog.
|Yeah, I had to do a finger sweep to get the
mulch out of his mouth for this shot.
And an unhappy dog isn’t going to be much help in the therapy dog world.
We have more important things to focus on during our travels. We don’t want anything to dampen down that ridiculously sunny personality of his.
2. We meet the most interesting folk
Hey, if there was a movie about your life who would you want to star in it? Besides yourself, that is. Micron says he wants that dude that plays Kirk in the new Star Trek movie play him. Or Jim Gaffigan. Either one will work.
Did you say Abe Lincoln?*
3. The treats are pretty awesome, too
|Cordell and Micron politely await some popcorn.|
In the mighty Micron’s early training as a CCI puppy we thought that maybe, if he really applied himself, he might end up a service dog. So we never offered him people food. Ever. He learned to not eat anything that fell on the floor or to be all obnoxious about asking for a dog cookie.
Well, all bets are off, Micron says now. He’s a pet and he can sleep on the sofa any darn time he feels like it, he lets us know. So sure, we’ve relaxed some standards. For the sofa naps, anyway.
But still, for a dog as food motivated as this big guy, I insist on maintaining the no-eating-off-the-floor and polite manners stuff. When a fellow mvPTa friend at our info table asks if Micron can have some popcorn from her bag, I did allow it though. The other therapy dogs working the booth were being treated from the same paper bag, so it looked as much like a dog cookie reward than people food, I thought.
In hindsight, this was a duh moment for me. There sure were a lot of kids coming by the info table that morning with bags of those salty little dog treats. A sticky sucker clutched in a toddler’s grip was still a no-no in his canine brain. But thanks for holding that treat bag so near my tongue, kid, said Micron. Ah, but disasters were efficiently averted thanks to my hyper-vigilance. Mostly.
And the popcorn was free anyway, so there’s that.
4. Little kids are sweet things
Little boys smell like french fries with ketchup, says Micron. And little girls? They smell like cotton candy and cherry suckers.
He would know. When he’s not snarfing popcorn from a youngster’s paper bag, he’s licking the kid’s hands. Or face. Or good grief, now that it’s sandal weather it’s the toes.
Micron is so good with kids though. He plops his self down to their level and soaks up the attention. Here’s my head, kid, says Micron. Have at it.
On a separate topic, I’m considering replacing the carpet in my house with gymnasium flooring to match the dog.
|At 14, Shelby finds herself like some of us do. It’s easier,
to get down, than back up. So, she’ll be glad to greet you on
all fours. Thanks for understanding, young person.
5. The free belly rubs
Micron doesn’t charge a dime for these.
So you can just do this all day long, he says. Please. Feel free to continue. It’s my pleasure.
I’d like to bring you attention to that yellow sucker poised all tempting-like in that young person’s hand. Being totally ignored by the mighty Micron, you will note.
Belly rubs trump candy on a stick, according to this canine’s value sytem.
|At least this kid didn’t have popcorn|
* Yep, another obscure movie reference. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). It’s a comedy classic, people. I make no apologies. Now if I can just get a Young Frankenstein quote in here somewhere.
Free belly rubs?!! I will definitely not let Nettie see this post. She'll want to start doing double duty as a Hearing Dog AND a Therapy Dog!
Great list. I was surprised by the very first one. 🙂
And yes, I got the Robin Hood: MIT reference. I love Mel Brooks but I wish that movie was as funny as it could have been. I'll stick to Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, myself.
The basic idea behind the trials is to assess how in control the dog can remain. By being calm and in charge of their own behavior in all situations therapy dog training