Monday, November 28, 2016
I found out at my latest visit to the VA hospital that they have a book club that meets every month. How wonderful for the residents. Someone actually comes in and discusses a book-great for the mind. How did I find this out? One of my regulars told me. I met him in the hallway as I was on my way to visit him in his room. He apologized for not waiting to see me and Maggie but when he explained where he was going I told him I wished I could go with him! He invited me to join him, but I had not finished my visits yet so I declined his offer and told him maybe next time. I also found out that every Tuesday at 9:15 in the morning there is a current events class. This keeps the residents up to date with what is going on in the world. This class is good for residents that are not able to read a newspaper, navigate a computer or have family members that visit them regularly. I will make sure to ask my regulars about what they learned in this class as my day to visit is Tuesday afternoon. On another note, I find it interesting that some residents prefer to talk about themselves and others prefer to talk about the world. This week I met a POW, and on the hospice floor I met an army officer that went through the Korean War. He seemed rather lonely and would have liked for me to pull up a chair and spend the afternoon listening to his wartime stories. I felt badly but after a short period of time I had to leave and visit with other residents. I promised to come back the next time I was at the hospital. The gentleman that was a POW wasn’t interested in talking about his army service he just wanted to spend some time with Maggie. Another gentleman chose to discuss the results of the elections. I felt he craved basic conversation so I stayed as long as I could before I felt compelled to visit with other residents. Another thing I find interesting is that with certain residents Maggie will choose to stand and wait until I am finished talking and with others, she will get comfortable and sprawl out on the floor. When she is comfortable on the floor I usually point this out each person I am talking to. I do this as a compliment to let them know how comfortable they make Maggie. This is usually followed by a big smile. I hope it will last them throughout their day!
Monday, November 14, 2016
We celebrated Veterans Day last week (November 11th). Maggie and I are fortunate to be able to visit and meet many veterans at the VA hospital. Many of them are our regulars but every so often we meet new people who amaze us. This past week on the hospice floor we met a woman (while women at the VA hospital are not the norm I would not call this unusual) who heard about the “dogs” coming for a visit and put in a request for a visit. The minute I checked into the recreation department I was told of this individual and to please be sure to make my way to see her. When I got to her unit I was told again of her request and I assured them that I wouldn’t forget. I found her room and when I did I was not sure what to expect. But when I walked in I found a vibrant excited almost gitty woman that proclaimed “oh the dogs have finally arrived!” Obviously since she was on the hospice unit she belonged there but from an outsiders look you would never believe it. She was attached to an oxygen tank but otherwise she appeared healthy. She called Maggie over right away. Maggie has as ability to read a person’s aura and Maggie responded positively. The woman invited Maggie to join her on her bed (this is something that is frowned upon) but I did not protest as Maggie jumped right on her bed. I can say this woman was happy. At this point a nurse walked into the room and said “I don’t see that dog on your bed, but so nice to see that smile on your face!” There was not a lot of conversation needed in this room. I believe this woman just needed some time giving and receiving some love from a dog, and of course Maggie was happy to fulfill the need. I had a hard time leaving her room but the time eventually came to visit other residents. The rest of our visit went well. Many of the residents chose to talk about the elections (as our visit was on Tuesday-the results were not yet in). I listened as everyone voiced their opinion. I did inquire as to how they vote-absentee ballot is their mode. I can’t wait to go back and talk to them about their perception of the results. Should lead to a good discussion.
Monday, November 7, 2016
I love being part of the literacy program. What better way to encourage a child to read by having an understanding dog at your side. Especially one who isn’t judge-mental, one who is encouraging, and of course one who is nice and fluffy. Maggie and I visited a special needs elementary school this past week. This school has different levels of functioning students. The session started with some non-readers who were accompanied by their aides. They were a rather active group. When this happens my radar goes up and I go into protective mode. Protective mode that is for Maggie. Although we discuss with the kids the proper way to handle the animals the information doesn’t always sink in. But a shout out to the aides for doing a wonderful job! They maintained their students properly and the session went well. Towards the end of the hour we had a higher functioning group, one that reads books. Some of the students remembered Maggie from last year and I noticed that most of the kids had grown since last year. So, why am I commenting on this group? After one of the students finished reading his book, he was petting Maggie. He looked at her tags. Maggie has two tags attached to her collar. One is her name and contact info in case she gets lost, and the other tag is the name or our organization, “Pals For Life”. The other side says “I Am A Therapy Dog”. When this young student read this he looked at me and said “Maggie is a therapy dog?” I was taken aback for a quick second and then I responded, “Yes, I take her to hospitals and nursing homes to visit with sick people to help them feel better.” “Cool,” he said and continued to pet Maggie. I never stopped to think what goes through these kids minds when the dogs come to their school and I never stopped to think what the school tells the kids. But now when I think about it I assume the school tells them the dogs (and rabbit) are coming to hear you read. The kids take it at face value. But I can assure you the next time Maggie and I visit this school I will be sure to ask. And of course as usual since she is so chill, Maggie just goes with the flow and is happy to get some love!