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Saturday, March 8, 2014

10,000 Visitors!! Thank You!!

Yesterday we passed a milestone with our 10,000th visitor!!!

When we started this on January 24th, 2011 we never expected to have such success and such a following. We are all truly humbled by the support, the messages, the comments we have been left from right here in Minnesota and all over the world.

Our goal was really simple. When we started training Gopher we read everything we could find on therapy dogs. The majority of the volumes dealt with training and a few precious gems actually discussed the experience, they however quickly shifted to discussions of healthcare in America, or how we treat our senior citizens. While these are important topics, we wanted to hear more about the experiences on this side of the leash.

It was our hope that if we put this out there we could help a few potential new therapy animal handlers in understanding the experience and maybe help increase the understanding of what a therapy animal does, and some insight to the human and non-human animal bond.

We hope we have succeeded in doing this and look forward to continuing!

We are thankful everyday for the opportunity to spend over 2,000 hours collectively with 100's patients, students and families. 

The first story of a dog doing therapy work comes to us from Catholicism, and the story of Saint Roch (circa 1348- circa 1379).  It is humbling to be a part of such a long history, and be part of the 1,000's of registered therapy animals around the world.

For our fans, if you would like to send us a message or leave a comment with your favorite story from Gopher Sessions please do and we will update you as best as we can on the people involved, and where the patient is today.

Thank you again, and hug your dog!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nausea? The Brothers Rodent can help with that.....

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

The whole family had the pleasure of being called to a young girl in need. It is not the first time we have been asked to do this, but thankfully it will be one of the last. It was her last treatment after a long and difficult year. She was however having some issues with the last treatment and was checking back into the hospital once again. 

Gopher and Squirrel were very excited to return to see one of their favorite patients. Both up in the bed taking up more room than they should. Squirrel settled in quickly and cuddled into her while she struggled against her upset stomach.

Gopher, had another plan in place. He was excited to see one of his favorite kids, but this visit seemed a little different. He shifted his focus to her mom. Even though the patient he was called to tend to was not feeling well, he felt mom needed him more and showed her his undivided attention.

The last year had taken quite the toll on her, her baby was seriously ill. She had been hundreds of miles from home, the rest of her family and her supportive community. The road had been long and as it was coming to an end, there they were once again in the hospital. She was ready to go home, ready to start moving forward and pleased that her little one had beaten the odds. We had gotten to know her quite well in our visits and this was the first time Gopher had become so focused on her.

As we visited it became ever more clear how much the events of the day had rattled her. The fatigue and stress was more noticeable than it had been. Gopher cuddled in and she started rough housing with him, and he played back. Soon she began to laugh and smile and make jokes. Her shoulders relaxed and she seemed to accept this final hurdle with perseverance that has allowed her to get through the last year.

We continued our visit. Gopher went back to help Squirrel cuddle our young patient while staying close to mom. After some time it was time to leave and we said our good byes.

We do not know if we will get the chance to see the young patient and her mother again, as they were nearing the end of their time here, and were looking to a bright future. I know that although we only did get to know them for a short time, all of our visits with them will last with us for the rest of our lives. It is not often that you get to spend even a short time with someone with so much bravery, strength, positivity in the face of seemingly unsurmountable difficulties, compassion in the body of a feisty, stubborn and strong willed little girl.