Over the five years that Maggie and I have been providing therapy to others we have traveled to many hospitals, nursing homes, libraries and schools located in varying neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area.
While some of the neighborhoods are of the affluent persuasion others are at the opposite extreme. I never feel uncomfortable but I do notice a difference in the student body.
So why am I mentioning this? While at a school visit this past week I was sitting with some dynamic students. One of them was afraid of dogs but was beginning to show some interest in Maggie. At one point Maggie got up to stretch and then picked something up off the floor. I immediately said “No” and told her to “Drop it”. The student asked if I was going to hit Maggie. I looked at her and said of course not-we never hit dogs, just like we never hit children. She gave me a look like I lost my mind and replied “I get hit all the time!” It was then I realized we were from two different worlds.
I didn’t really know how to reply or if it warranted a response but I simply said “I’m sorry”
I realized the purpose of my visit that day was to bring Maggie into an environment where students might not have been exposed to a therapy dog. I am not and do not want to get into their business and solve their problems (or world problems) that precise moment. I do realize everyone comes to the table with their own unique set of problems that I am not equipped to handle-so I just focus on what I am trained to do (although my heart did go out to her).
At the end of the visit I complimented her on being able to pet Maggie and she did respond with a half a smile.