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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gopher Goes To College

            It was Mom’s turn this time!  Gopher and I went on our first solo Therapy.  I have had the opportunity to watch Gopher work at various facilities with Chad as the handler and witnessed a lot of the stories that you read about in this blog but this was our first time by ourselves.  Chad and I train as a team so I was very involved in getting Gopher to the place he is now and I have enjoyed every minute of it, the frustrating and the rewarding.  It’s all an adventure and we do ours as a family. 
            You have probably read in various newspapers, how colleges, high schools, and grade schools are using therapy animals to relieve stress in the classroom.  I have not read up on any of the hard scientific research that proves or disproves this theory but by what I have seen it will at the very least put a smile on a face or two and everyone seems to truly appreciate the animal’s presence.  Our visit was to a local college library during finals week.  Which as a college graduate, I can attest at how stressful this part of my life could be.  We stood at the entrance to the library behind a make shift barrier and let those that chose to interact with the animals the opportunity to do so.  The barrier is simply there to protect those who don’t feel comfortable around dogs and we always try our best to be respectful of this.  The visit was pretty low key but we had quite a few visitors stop by to visit us and the other dogs that were available for petting.  One of my favorites was a young gentleman that was obviously in a hurry, stop in his tracks, turn and point right at Gopher.  He said “I want to pet that one”.  He stopped for a few minutes and gave Gopher some love and then was on his way.  Another older student came down the hall and looked like she was about in tears.  Her fist words were “I need therapy”.  She had seen a posting about us being there and had hurried over after she took her final which she was sure she had failed.  There were no favorites for her, she pet each one of them for a long time. 
            Gopher performed for me like a dream.  He makes it look easy but I know the journey we took with him.  From shark puppy to hard nosed adolescent to one of the best therapy dogs I have ever seen.  I swear I’m not biased!:)  I honestly don’t take much credit for it cause if he didn’t have the drive and the instinct to do the work the best trainers in the world couldn’t have gotten him there.  He loves what he does and so do we.  We plan on posting our stories here for a very long time!   

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