After training (Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy) and an initial evaluation, Zoe and I went to our final Pet Therapy evaluation today. Considering that Zoe is my third dog in the program (Dog as God’s Messenger), I was surprisingly nervous. I worried that I might forget something or that rules might have changed while I wasn’t looking.
Things started off well. We met Lyn, our evaluator, at hospice, and proceeded to visit the staff. We always try to see all the staff we can at hospice. It takes a special person to work there, and they deserve all the warm fuzzies we can give them. Zoe was her charming self, her little stub of a tail wagging furiously as she dashed over to see her next new best friend.
Once all the hospice staff had been suitably loved, we walked down the hall to see patients and family. As we approached our first room, we were surprised by a little Scottie who came charging out of the room, barking to mark it’s territory. Zoe, startled and challenged, barked back.
I groaned inside as red-alert alarms went off in my brain. Pet Therapy dogs are not supposed to bark in the hospital. I corrected Zoe by giving her the “leave it” and “quiet” commands, but I also waited for Lyn to show us the door.
But Lyn just shrugged. While patients can bring pets into hospice, they are supposed to abide by the same rules as pet therapy dogs, and not bark in the building. This dog had startled Zoe, and barked a challenge. Zoe responded, but quieted almost instantly. No harm, no foul. Whew!
The rest of the visit went fine. We shared the love with patients and visitors. I didn’t make any mistakes. Lyn’s biggest concern was that Zoe pulled at the end of her leash in her eagerness to get to people. Since she weighs 22 pounds, it wasn’t as if she was going to pull loose and go tearing down the hall. With age and experience, and me gently reminding her, we agreed that she’ll settle down and save her energy for wagging her tail stub.
So it’s official: Zoe has earned her purple scarf, and is now a Pet Therapy dog.