Monday, September 26, 2016

Maggie's Point of View

So what’s in it for Maggie when we go for therapy visits? Maggie certainly enjoys getting out of the house and going for a ride in the car. She often looks out the window taking in the view. At the age of seven Maggie is at the stage where she is content to sleep most of her day if she is not engaged. If I am working from home at my desk she will sit at my feet but will usually fall asleep. Maggie loves to interact with people. Part of this is due to her breed. The Goldendoodle is known to be a breed that gets along well with other animals as well as with people. The other part is due to her training as a therapy dog. For the past four years Maggie knows that when we get into the car we are going for a therapy visit. Or should I say 9 times out of 10. The other times we are headed to the vet or to get bathed. During a therapy visit Maggie is not allowed to have any contact with the other animals present, but if we get there before the session starts we do greet the other animals. For her it’s like getting it out of her system. Maggie has gotten used to this routine. She knows for the duration of the visit she is there to interact with the people. You might ask how she knows this? Through repetition and positive reinforcement (treats!) At a hospital visit we are on the move. Walking from room to room, spending a few minutes in each room. Maggie is patient while I interact with each person but more importantly she get a lot of attention in the form of a gentle rub on her back, behind the ears and of course her favorite treat! At a visit to a nursing home we are moving but at a much slower pace. We are usually stationed in a meeting room of some sort and we move from person to person (they are seated). About halfway through the visit we will generally go to another unit. At the nursing home each person will spend time with Maggie petting her. If there is time I try to show them a few of Maggie’s tricks. The patients there enjoy this and Maggie gets rewarded with treats! At all other visits to universities, elementary schools and libraries we are seated and the students rotates from animal to animal. Maggie is use to both types of visits and can handle either. She just goes with the flow. On another note an interesting outcome of Maggie being a therapy dog is that while we are out walking in the neighborhood Maggie expects to be greeted, petted and given treats. This is due to her conditioning. It makes for taking a quick walk very difficult. I’ve had to explain this quite often to people we’ve met while on our daily walks. Most people expect dogs to be interested in one another and while Maggie will greet another dog she will quickly adjust her attention to the human sidekick. As long as she gets some sort of attention Maggie is a happy camper!

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