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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gopher Teaches Squirrel

Personal information obtained on therapy visits is confidential. When applicable the name/location/sex/condition of persons visited may be changed to protect privacy. However, the interactions, conversations are true and did occur as written. 

Gopher, Chad,  Squirrel and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.
Our recent visit had us working with a patient who was visually impaired. The patient was nervous and unsure of their surroundings and walked with the aid of family. On this visit Gopher and I were also joined by Carla and little brother Squirrel. The mere sight of the patient made Squirrel very excited and he wanted to give him all his Golden love right away. Having met this patient before I knew of their hesitancy and fear, and Gopher and I moved in quickly to allow a more calm less excited presence.

Gopher went right to work, lying flat on his side, with his head down and back to the patient. The laughter and smiles were amazing. Gopher answered with gentle flaps of his tail against the floor. He continued to lay there peacefully while every part of his body was reached touched. He is a good boy who seems to not only know his job, but love every minute of it.

My concerns over Squirrel were quickly silenced as Squirrel observing his big brother Gopher started to emulate Gopher, becoming very calm, and laying down on the floor. Soon the patient with assistance was interacting with both of them. Squirrel did a great job and that night, Gopher was not only a great therapy dog, but a great teacher, and Squirrel a wonderful student.

The patient enjoyed petting both Gopher and Squirrel for about twenty minutes.  The patients face was stiff and reflected uncertainty upon arrival, but when the time came to leave, a smile graced a relaxed face. It was great to see, and I couldn’t have been more proud of Gopher and Squirrel for their work.


  1. I would be proud as well! Good job by Squirrel, taking cues from Gopher!

    1. He did a pretty good job, has a ways to go, but when we selected him we were looking for more energy and drive in order to train him for SAR.