Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bogie, Therapy Dog

Every four to five months, I take Bogie to Sarah, the groomer. It's a long drive and I drift into negative thoughts along the way since I'm driving through territory that represents loss. But he really likes Sarah. 

Afterwards we go to the Arboretum where he gets dirty in ten minutes rolling in the grass, walking in mud and drinking out of puddles. This time, he'd only done two thrashing arounds, and skipped the puddle, when we met a woman with a Cavalier King Charles puppy. She told me about the Pekinese that she'd had for thirteen years, said that Bogie felt just like her dog had after he'd been groomed and smelled just like he did. "Where do you get him groomed?" "The Continental," I said. Of course, she'd taken her dog to the same place and same young woman. Then a Shih Tzu came along. I like the photographs even though they aren't particularly in focus.

Bogie's dolled up because he's going to volunteer at the Children Museum next Saturday. He's a registered therapy dog -- well trained with a Canine Good Citizen Certificate and insured by Dog Bones. For a couple of years, we spent every Wednesday night with a some pleasant women whose qualification to live in that particular group home was having been, however briefly, in a mental hospital. Bogie always raced in, ran around looking for his toys and then settled on someone's lap. I got to the point where I lent him to them on Saturday afternoons. My groomer advised against that, but I was too involved with their needs (and his pleasure.) She was right. The ladies followed his lead unless they were too tired to obey when he headed toward Jamaica Pond My feeling of comfort within that environment lead me to take a part-time job there when it came open. I lasted about two months.

There are always the issues of boundaries and co-dependence in  relationships. And I suppose that I'm not ready to take on another long term, once-a-week placement since I don't have a spectacular ability managing them. I know Bogie would be happy. He loves going anywhere -- to visit Lorna and Warren (dog treats and scraps,) for any ride in the car (and the inevitable walk,) to the bank (the free dog bones aren't to his liking,) to Feet of Clay (cheese, Christine and Holly, not necessarily in that order, though cheese is always first.) 


  1. I'd love to know more about therapy dogs.

  2. A therapy dog is approved of and insured by some agency, like Dog Bones. Before that, they have to know the basics that allow them to pass a test, Canine Good Citizenship. That's sitting, waiting, coming when called.
    The first agency that insured Bogie was quite demanding and he had to perform. There were some dogs at that testing who didn't pass because they couldn't be separated from their owners. They wouldn't get out of the large purses they were used to being carried around in, they wouldn't sit or come when called.
    The woman who runs Dog Bones was more liberal though she had crutches and canes to make sure that the dogs weren't frightened by them.
    Therapy dogs can visit in hospitals, nursing homes, go to schools to listen to children read books, etc. My daughter told me about this a number of years ago. It's very easy, but usually involves a regular commitment of time every week.
    Golden Retrievers make very good therapy dogs because they are a good size and love to be patted. Bogie isn't that friendly until he knows someone, though he submits to petting sometimes. He'd prefer to nose around trying to find food that someone has dropped. This was really hard when I took him to a respite unit and he wanted to clean floors rather than socialize.