As of January 1st, Sugar became a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International and today was our day to have our very first visit!
In November we had a meet and greet with Elementary School staff to make sure that we would be a good fit for their special ed and EBD classrooms. It seemed like we were exactly what they were looking for to work with the kids, so we started making plans for the visits which will be weekly and started with today’s visit.
Sugar went into the school like she owned the place! And one of the many great things about the day is that the staff had been informed about her role at the school and I think they distributed photos of her when she did the meet and greet, so when she went in she was already known by staff as they encountered her in the office and hallways. We had the opportunity for some quick learning points to explain the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs and how Sugar was absolutely okay to be pet, which was a LOT of fun for me!
We then visited the two classrooms and the kids immediately fell in love with her! Even some of the kids that I didn’t think would end up approaching her made their way over to her to give her a soft pat on her head. It was really wonderful to observe the interactions between the kids and Sugar, and just like I’ve had conversations with people about previously, there is something about dogs that they can bring out in people what other humans just are not capable of no matter how hard we try. It’s really remarkable to watch it happen. And the kids were DEFINITELY not the only ones who enjoyed Sugar’s visit to the school; the teachers that stopped in loved watching her with the kids and were more than happy to offer a pet or two as well! Even the principal made a trip to the classroom to watch Sugar and the kids interacting together!
With her first therapy visit successfully under her belt, it was time to go and visit my mom who is 86 and who LOVES Sugar! Once again, Sugar evaluated the situation and determined exactly what was needed to make a successful interaction-and she lulled my mom right to sleep! She didn’t even mind that her front part of her body was on the chair while her back legs stood! I tried getting her to lay on the floor next to the chair, but Sugar quickly let me know that on the floor was just too far away for her plans with my mom!
To complete the trifecta of a successful day, we finished it off with her going for a walk with my 2-year-old grandson! She seemed more than happy to recalibrate once again and gauge her behavior and activity level to the human that she was around. Just when I think I can’t love her more or appreciate her abilities in a new way, she surprises me! She is really an amazing companion and she will be able to bring joy to so many through her therapy dog work! We are already getting calls from other schools, hospice, cancer units, in-home therapy visits, and memory care centers and she will do amazing with all of them!
Way to go, Sugar!