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Monday, April 9, 2012

Not always welcome.....

Advisory: This entry has language some may find offensive.

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, and Carla are all volunteers. They do not officially represent any institution that may be mentioned.

Gopher goes on a wide variety of different visit types, sometimes they are group visits to a facility and other times they are targeted visits to a single patient in a facility. Tonight we were assigned to visit a single patient. When we arrived we found Jerry sitting in the common room finishing dinner. The hustle and bustle of a facility can be quite alarming to a first time visitor with an animal, but at this point Gopher and I are seasoned veterans. We let Jerry know we were there, and not to rush but we would be over when he was finished. 

After confirming with the facility staff we visited some of the other patients who were waving Gopher over and he had a great time greeting all of them with a tail wag and smile. After a few minutes Jerry had finished dinner and we started our visit. Our visit with him was typical and he fully engaged with Gopher, petting him and telling stories of dog she had during his life. Even though we were targeted to visit with a single patient since we visited in the common area we had to be vigilant of our surroundings so as not to hinder the facility staff or put Gopher or myself in a place to be hurt. Since we were in a common area we also had to deal with other possible distractions and Gopher did very well, although another patient in the common area provided quite the distraction.

We had just  began to visit with Jerry when across the table a patient whom we were not assigned gave us our challenge of the night.

"What the hell are you doing here", she yelled out, "animals are not allowed in here they are dangerous, filthy disgusting god damned beasts."

"No need to worry ma'am." I replied, "He is a special animal, he gets to be here, he is very safe, clean and will not harm you, we are here to visit with Jerry, and we will not come over if you do not wish."

I turned back to the patient.

"You are a fucking bum, no place to live coming in here with you damn vagrant dog I am calling the police." 

I smiled and asked Jerry if he would like to visit in his room, he said yes, but needed some assistance which as a volunteer I am unable to provide. We alerted the staff, apologized for our disruption and upsetting the other patient. They told me it was fine and they would be over to help as soon as possible.

Gopher and I returned to Jerry to continue our visit.

"You fucking bum, get the fuck out of here, I told you, the police are coming."

I turned to her again, and calmly apologized."I am sorry we have upset you ma'am, the staff is going to come over and help Jerry to his room where we will continue our visit, until then I am going to sit here with Jerry. I promise you, my dog will not hurt you, he is supposed to be here, and we will not come over."

Jerry was grinning and laughing when I turned back to him patting Gopher on the head.

"Don't worry boy, she's is just mean, not as kind as you are and this wonderful dog." Jerry stated. I smiled and continued our visit. The nurse came over to tell me again not to worry they were short handed and would be coming to help as soon as possible.

We continued our visit.

"Fucking bum" 
"Get outta here, I told you , police are coming"
"You're an asshole"
"You're an asshole"
"You're an asshole"
"You're an asshole"

She continued this like a broken record for twenty minutes, while staff stopped by telling her it was fine, telling me I was fine. At one point during this yelling Gopher turned towards the yelling woman, pushed his ears forward, cocked his head, smiled and wagged his tail.So proud of how solid he was to handle this adversity. Finally the staff was able to assist Jerry to his room, where we finished our visit in peace and scheduled our follow up. On the way out, he turned to me and asked if when I came again if we could spend a little time in the common room, as he hadn't laughed that hard in some time. I smiled and said we will see, and walked away. As we headed toward the elevator through the common room again, "FUCKING BUM, GET OUTTA HERE" rang again through the corridors, the elevator dinged and I could hear Jerry laughing in his room. Not the intended therapy from a visit, but we did leave him laughing. 


  1. Oh wow!! Some people are just nuts and how can anyone yell at a wagging tail! LOL Glad Jerry had his head and heart in the right place and this is just wonderful that Gopher did so well with all that negative energy shooting his direction from 'mean lady'. Kudos to Gopher as usual!!

    1. Thank you very much. Poor woman was not in her right mind, felt bad for her and made for an interesting visit.