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Friday, May 11, 2012

Therapy Marathon

A couple of weeks ago Gopher and I went on a day that has since been described as the therapy marathon. The day started with our Sunday house cleaning, Gopher’s second least favorite thing we do, the first being going to our day jobs and leaving him sit. With the house work done, we did our immediately prior to visiting groom.

We took off for our first visit of the day, ninety minutes of R.E.A.D. The warm weather deterred many people from coming to the library that day, and Gopher only had one reader. A 4 year old who was able to take her time reading, Boomer’s Big Surprise, one of Gopher’s favorite books. At least he is most attentive when it is read. The book if you are not familiar is about a Golden Retriever named Boomer who has to make adjustments to a new Golden Retriever puppy coming into his home. 

Something Gopher had to go through not very long ago, damn puppies anyway. With few visitors Gopher and I were able to visit some with one of our favorite fellow teams to visit with and one of his many girlfriends Kodi.

The session came to an end and off across town we went to visit one of our hospice patients.  She was very happy to see Gopher, but was not having a good day. She apologized as she was not strong enough to pet Gopher that day. She told me to tell him he was such a good dog for her. I told her that he heard her and was wagging out of happiness.  This made her smile and laugh. We raised her head a bit with her permission so that she could see Gopher a little better. Since she was not able to pet him we went through the repertoire of Gopher tricks, she smiled brightly at each one. We visited for a few minutes more and bid our farewells.
Then we had to zip across town for our final visit of the day, a group visit with little brother Squirrel and Mom. Once again the weather made the visitors sparse while we were waiting for visitors Gopher and I worked on an expansion of a trick that is loved at this particular facility. The trick that is loved, and I often have visitors help me with is placing several treats on Gophers’ paws and forelimbs. He will then stay in position, staring intently at me and drooling a bit, until he is released to consume the treats. Now we have expanded this to doing ‘chalk outlines’ of Gopher.  He likes the end of this trick, but does grow impatient while I am doing the outline so several adjustments have to be made.

We even took the opportunity to pose for a picture together.

After a little bit we had our first visitor, Squirrel was beside himself with excitement, while Gopher stayed in his most regal position waiting for love. The little one went to Squirrel first and he did calm but not before lying down and stretching. When he did this he put his front paws against the patient, he did not hurt, her, but the pressure surprised her and being very young called out to him to stop. Gopher observing all of this looked at me, then at Squirrel and back at me, huffing at his displeasure in the behavior. Gopher does this often when he knows any animal, particularly Squirrel acts inappropriately. Squirrel and Carla visited with her as she readily fed both Gopher and Squirrel treats; she also needed to eat so Carla used her desire to feed the boys treats as motivation. She had to eat, then she got to give the boys a treat, then she had to eat another item, so on and so forth. Her mother appreciated the extra assistance. While they continued to visit Gopher and I visited with a visually impaired patient who we have visited with before. Being uncertain of his surroundings he seems to appreciate how calm Gopher is in letting him pet and inspect every inch of Gopher with his hands, calling out anatomy such as ears, nose, paws when he traces Gopher and finds them.
Once the visit was completed, Gopher took all of us out to Dairy Queen for ice cream cones thanks to a gift card he received for volunteer appreciation week. With the ice cream consumed it was time for a walk, and another photo op of Gopher and Squirrel.

It was a very busy and wonderful day. However with all that work done, the ice cream, and a walk there was but one thing left to do, and that was get four paws in the air.


  1. What a day! I like that trick with the outline of treats. Finn can certainly hold off on a treat or two while she stays, but I am going to try an outline and see how it goes!

    I am sure the hospice patient was just thrilled to be able to see you and she responded so well to the tricks. I am sure you made her day!

    1. Loved the mentions and seeing you work on that trick. It was a busy day, but we loved it and celebrated with a little chuck it.