Monday, March 27, 2017

Losing a Beloved Pet

I recently read an article by Frank McAndrew that states how much more difficult it is to lose a beloved dog then it is to lose a beloved person. The author speaks about the loss of his dog, Murphy. He makes this claim because while there are certain protocols and practices attached to the death of a person, non are in place for an animal.
I am fortunate that my beloved Maggie is still here with me but I can understand what the author is saying, as I have lost a dog when I was a young.
Recently a friend of mine went through the process of grieving for the loss of her beloved dog that was more like a daughter then a pet. While I tried to be there and lend support to her I also witnessed some unfortunate comments made to her. While sometimes we do not know what to say to a grieving person it is best to say “I am sorry” or “how are you doing today?” But if there is ever a time when you are unsure of what to say then it is best to remain quiet.
While visiting Bryn Mawr College last week I met a student that was happy to sit with Maggie. I could tell she was a ‘dog person’ by the way she was petting and talking with Maggie. When I asked her if she had a pet at home she first said yes, but then changed her answer to “I had.” I didn’t press her but she looked at me and opened up. Her family was living in Taiwan at the time and while she was away at school her dog was swept away in one of their bad storms.
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
She added that her family didn’t tell her right away because they wanted her to do well in school. One of her friends sitting with her said “you never told me that, you just said that your dog’s name was Jack.
The conversation continued for a bit but then petered out as the friends enjoyed just sitting with Maggie.

Losing a sidekick is never easy. Some choose to replace them immediately and while others need time to grieve. Whatever the decision as friends we need to show our support.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Emotional Support

At the Mastery Charter School which was a new visit for us, Maggie and I met a few middle school students in an Emotional Support classroom.
However before we could get to the correct classroom we had to traverse the long hallway. Word spread quickly that there was a dog in the building and one by one classroom doors popped open and kids started spilling out.
“Can I pet you dog?”
“What kind of dog is it?”
What’s its name?”
were all the questions that were shouted at me as Maggie and I continued on our way. I did stop a couple of times in order to satisfy their curiosity, but I couldn’t stay long as I was expected in room 222.
So what is the purpose of an Emotional Support (ES) classroom and where do Maggie and I fit into this puzzle?
An Emotional Support class is set up to provide both emotional and academic help to those who are unable to be a part of the regular classroom. They are unable to participate because of behavioral, social and/or personal skill impairments.
Maggie and I were there to help boost their behavior skills and at the same time show them the proper way to handle a dog.
The class itself was on the small side with only 5 students in attendance (a few were out sick). The kids were very well behaved and most took an immediate liking to Maggie. As they spent time petting Maggie I filled them in on her usual day, her likes and dislikes and how she came into our family.
Although one of the students professed to being afraid of dogs, by the end of the hour she was on the floor petting Maggie.
Another student was happy to spend most of the time giving Maggie a “belly rub” which is one of her favorite spots to be petted. While spending time with Maggie this student kept repeating “this is so great, just what I needed.” When it was time to leave he asked if he could take Maggie home with him. I looked at him with a smile and said he wasn’t the first person to ask me. When he repeated the question I realized I needed to be more definite so I answered No, I would miss her too much!

As I had never been in an ES classroom before I felt I had learned something that day. Never judge someone by their needs. I was just happy that Maggie and I were able to contribute something positive to their day!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fish Therapy???


Pet Therapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Fish Therapy, wait Fish Therapy? On a recent vacation to the Caribbean I started noticing kiosks set up with what looked like large fish tanks with the tops of the tanks open. People had their feet submerged in these tanks and the fish were nibbling at their feet. On my first pass through I did a double take. On my second pass through I stood and stared, ok I gawked. On my third pass through I asked the people sitting (with their feet submerged) how it felt.
“Nice,” was their response.
“Does it tickle?” I inquired.
“Not really,” they responded.
I then turned to the operator of the kiosks and asked what was the purpose of these fish? They told me they feed off the dead skin of your feet. Interesting I thought as I moved on.
I didn’t think much of these dead skin eating fish until I got to the last stop of my vacation and came up to another of these fish kiosks. At this point I examined it a little closer and noticed the tank of water was filtered. If I was considering submerging my feet into a tank of water I didn’t want to come into contact with anyone else’s bacteria.
So I decided to take the plunge. The cool water felt good against the warm Caribbean air. I immediately felt fish go after my feet as they felt a foreign object invade their tranquil space. I looked down and watched as roughly 50 fish started nibbling at my feet, toes and ankles. So did it tickle? No not really- as a person who is very ticklish I was rather surprised.
I sat with my feet submerged for about 15 minutes. The only thing I didn’t like was when the fish tried to get in between my toes. Other than that there were periods of time when the fish got bored of my feet or just got used to a foreign object in the tank and swan away. So I would move my feet around a little and they swam back to me.
All in all it didn’t feel much different than an elongated pedicure.
So my question is… Do I think I received any therapy? No not really. I tried it once will most probably not try it again. I do think they “borrowed” the word THERAPY to attract the average person.

But I’ll let you be the judge of that yourself.

Monday, March 6, 2017

For Animals on the Go


As per my usual when I think about my next blog I wonder if everyone wants to read about another college visit (Maggie and I went to Rowan University and it was a good visit) but then I stumble on a different topic. On a recent pass through the Philadelphia airport I noticed a number of areas marked “For Animals on the Go” This area consisted of a small patch of fake grass with a red fire hydrant in the middle. This area is to be used for the sole purpose of therapy and service dogs (or those traveling with their dogs).
As the rise of these services increases I have become aware of organizations that visit the airports to help de-stress weary passengers. I do not travel that often myself that I have been fortunate enough to encounter any of these lovely creatures but I have seen reports of them on the TV and seen how happy they make these weary travelers. So along with that these animals need areas to relieve themselves and instead of the handlers having to go outside and find a patch of grass some amazing people thought ahead and place these “relieve” areas throughout the airport.
Great planning!

So the next time you are traveling and see a therapy dog take advantage and give them a hug. But don’t forget to thank their handlers!