Monday, September 19, 2016

And My Favorite Is........

Every time I have the opportunity to take Maggie on a therapy visit I think “this has to be my favorite place to visit”. That being said I thought I would discuss the different places we visit and some of my goals while we are there. When we go to a hospital the idea of cheering someone up (especially if they are experiencing pain) gives me great satisfaction. I enjoy talking with everyone and hearing their story (totally their choice if they choose to share it) Most of the time, I get to hear about their dogs or a dog they knew or currently know. Of course Maggie gets most of the attention and some treats as well. My goal for the visit is to engage each person and make them feel special (distracting them from their pain is quite helpful as well)! Nursing homes are a great place to cheer people up. The mood is usually sedate. I find most residents sitting around waiting for an activity to start, so when we walk in as a group (we are generally 2-3 dogs and 1-2 rabbits) the mood is instantly lifted. Conversation is about people’s younger days which is great stimulation for their brain and Maggie just goes with the flow – as long as she gets her time allotment of hugs and treats! Colleges and Universities visits have a lot of energy. I can feel Maggie go on high alert especially when our sessions occur outdoors. Sometimes there is so much activity she doesn’t know where to look first. Although most of the students are stressed when we meet with them there is still a positive energy flow throughout our sessions-something that I see Maggie is able to pick up on. Most of our conversations are focused around the student’s pets that they miss from back home but there are always a few students who are nice enough to ask a few questions about Maggie. The students are always appreciative of our visits by saying “this is the best day!!”I hear this repeatedly throughout my visit. Maggie really loves these visits. At our last visit at Immaculata University Maggie resisted leaving when I got up to go. .I literally had to bribe her with treats to get her going. Everyone there had a good laugh about it! Elementary schools are very loud and noisy! The students have an opportunity to practice reading to Maggie. They seem to enjoy this and of course Maggie is not going to judge them on their level and ability to read. Some kids choose to pet Maggie while they read while others prefer to read first and pet her after. Maggie doesn’t mind either way. By the end of the session Maggie is exhausted from the level of the noise and activity and is always eager to return home for a long nap! Special needs visits differ slightly from regular school visits as the children might have an aide sit with them and help them read or encourage them to interact with Maggie. There are many different scenarios that might play out but Maggie will generally adapt to all situations. With both school settings the children take turns reading and move around so each child present gets a chance to visit with all the animals that came for the visit that day. My goal for these school visits are for the children to feel they were successful in their ability to engage with Maggie –be it by reading to her or petting her. When I see them walking away with a smile on their face I know I have done a good job. So, the question remains which is my favorite place to visit with Maggie? ALL OF THEM !!!

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