Wednesday, May 17, 2006

World of Good Blogburst, Love on a Leash Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) Wednesday here at The Scratching Post. Today I, K T Cat, Maximum Leader of the Feline Theocracy, reach out to my fellow animals, dogs.

The purpose of our WOG posts is to highlight and honor acts of kindness and charity. Good deeds are contagious.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to tag along with a group of volunteers and their dogs who participate in Love on a Leash. Here's how they describe themselves.

As members of "Love on a Leash", we take our Certified Therapy Dogs to visit residents in assisted living homes and Alzheimer's facilities as well as patients in hospitals and hospice situations. Some of our dogs and owners also work with special needs children. We are all volunteers. Using non-verbal communication, our dogs provide moments of joy and a connection that is truly special.
Here are my favorite photos from the event and a few things I observed. To see larger versions of the pictures, just click on them and you'll get a bigger view.

Gordon the small black dog and Walter the pug greet one of the residents in the courtyard before going in.

Meisje says hello to a fellow in a wheelchair.

The first thing I noticed about the volunteers was how seriously they took their jobs. Once the dogs had greeted one another and gotten their normal doggy behaviors out of the way, they and their owners stopped and took time with everyone they met. It wasn't superficial, either. The owners knew many of the residents and took their time to converse with each. No one was in a hurry.

Gordon gets a ride to the door.

Little things like this happened all along the way. They were casual, offhand actions that one would take with good friends. The warmth and connection were immediately obvious. The other thing that struck me almost immediately was that the relationships were as friends, not as if the volunteers were doing a favor for the residents.

After another short doggy break on the lawn, we went inside to the hospital where the residents needing the most care lived. We went to a common room where a group was gathered watching TV. As soon as we arrived, the TV was ignored and the dogs did their stuff.

Stolle doing what he does best.

Gordon reflects the affection given to him.

Stolle and Molly looking for petting. Mmmmm. Petting.

Stolle, Molly and Meisje hold deep, wordless conversations with the residents.

Doubles, anyone?

The volunteers had trained some of the dogs to do tricks. After an initial round of greeting and conversations, they put on a show. Walter was the most talented of the lot. Unfortunately, most of my photos of him did not come out well due to his black fur and the dark, indoor setting.

Gordon leaps through a hoop of fire! Well, not actually a hoop of fire. Really just two of the owners making a ring with their arms.

Joey jumps for a bit of apple.

My favorite photo from the trip.

One more dog came along, Star, but I failed to get any good photos of him. Sorry about that, Star.

Prior to participating, the dogs go through some training to acclimate themselves to being around the elderly and serve a short internship before being certified as Therapy Dogs. There are ample opportunities to participate and I could see how even a busy professional could find the time to join in one of these trips once a week. Later that evening, some of the dogs went to a local library where children with learning disabilities read to them as part of the Paws to Read program.

If you have a dog, I forgive you. No, that's not what I meant to say! If you have a dog, this looked like a great way to make some friends, spend quality time with your dog and get a huge payoff in happiness.

Bloggers who link to our WOG posts get to join the WOG Squad. Membership in the WOG Squad has many mysterious benefits, including cures for inflamed cuticles and the ability to transfer millions of dollars of Nigerian money into your bank account! We also offer attractive blog link incentives. Feel free to drop us an email if you'd like to join. Operators are standing by!

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style
WOG, MS Style
WOG, Amy Hawkins Style
WOG, Chiapas Style
WOG, Special Olympics Style
WOG, Hats for Cancer Style

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Unknown said...

What a great act of kindness! It's amazing how little effort is needed to brighten someone's day yet most of us can't be bothered to do it.

I'd say for most of those residents, that's probably the most excitement they've had in a long time. I'd also say most of them are better off because of a few minutes of kindness from a stranger with a pet.

I've seen firsthand how an animal can make even the most hopeless of cases pull through. The love of a dog (or cat!) can work miracles on your heart and soul.

Anonymous said...

I've heard of these kind of things. That's awesome! Sounds like a fun way to cheer people up.

jlbussey said...

I love the picture of Gordon getting a ride!