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Monday, January 24, 2011

First Visit: "A Children's Hospital"

Gopher first visit to a Children's Hospital on 12/21/2010.

Names/conditions and other personal information from a Therapy Visit cannot be shared.
Chad Burgess, Carla Donovan-Burgess and Gopher are volunteers and do not officially represent any institution mentioned in these visits. The names of the institutions have also been changed or not used and if the name of a person is used it will likely be changed as well. 

The experiences, conversations are true and really took place the names of persons, and institutions have only been changed to protect the privacy of those we visit.

Our first visit went well, despite my nerves in handling. Gopher did great. We visited as a group with the Twin City Tailwaggers a group affiliated with TCOTC. There were three other teams that joined us that night, but Gopher despite being a smaller GR was the biggest guy there. We interacted with about 20 people in total with 11 of them being patients, others were family, staff and friends.

The notable event of the evening was his interaction with a 5-6 year old girl suffering from a spinal disorder that necessitated her being on her stomach. The girl did not show much interest in the other dogs or Gopher at first. I asked the young girl and her mother if they would like to see Gopher and the patient gave a reluctant, "Yes".

Gopher then refused to approach.

I was embarrassed thinking the odd position or equipment made him nervous.

I gave him the command again, "Gopher say hello." With my hand gesturing him to where he needed to be. Alas my command and training of him seem to be for nothing, and I began to get a bit red in the face. Then it happened.

Gopher lowered his head and looked at the little girl through the tops of his eyes, and wagged his tail ever so gently. She saw this and started to grin and even chuckled a bit. With this confirmation from her he began to gently approach placing one paw ever so gently in front of the other.  By the time he arrived at her side she was giggling, petting and fully engaged. Gopher's tail started what we call pinwheel tail and it was all I could do to get him to sit so he wouldn't hit her with his tail.

I would have liked to take credit for this interaction, however I had nothing to do with it. This was purely him, and there is no circumstances that could have created an opportunity to train that behavior it was just instinct.

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