I've spoken about the training needed for Maggie to be certified as a therapy dog but my part of the training has been more of on the job training. I know I am never allowed to let go of Maggie's leash while we are in session but every situation can and has been different. While in a hospital setting we are allowed to move a wheelchair or small table on wheels to gain access to a patient (as long as we replace them when finished) but if a patient needs some medical attention we tell the patient we will get a nurse.
In an elementary school setting I find my interaction with the children is more in correcting or explaining the proper way to handle an animal or in this case Maggie. Some of the students come from a home where there is already a pet so they are familiar with this but for those who do not, they need to be told not to pull a dog's tail, not to poke a dog in the eye, and some dogs do not like to be touched on their paws.
In a college setting the interaction with the students is mostly to help them de-stress during their mid-terms and finals. There are times they are not looking to interact with anyone but the animal so I leave them be while they pet and hug Maggie. Maggie has a good sense of what they need as well!
My biggest "Ah-Ha" moment came during a visit at a local hospital. I was walking down the hall and I heard a woman calling to me. She was saying "lady with the dog, lady with the dog wait for me"
I turned around to see a women in a white doctors coat. She said to me "I've had a really hard day, can I pet your dog?"
It was that moment I realized the scope of comfort that Maggie and I could bring.
I think about that every so often when I pass a doctor, a nurse or even another volunteer in the hallway. I always pause and with a smile ask if they would like to pet Maggie.