Can You Still?

It was the first time since COVID. It’s a catch phrase with a new global understanding. It’s a phrase signifying as humans we collectively went through a change in our universe. We all wonder if we can still do “it”, whatever “it” may be.

Saturday, Truman Blue started back doing therapy visits at the hospital. In the past year and a half, he had done two crisis response visits but no regularly scheduled therapy visits. I wondered if he would still enjoy it, or if during COVID seclusion he decided he wanted to be a homebody and prefer the routine of the backyard to the stresses of meeting new people who had expectations.

As a therapy dog handler, I am very conscientious of my dog’s feelings. I don’t want to be the handler who pushes the dog up to someone, only to keep riveting eye contact with my dog as it endures the caresses of a stranger. I have seen therapy dogs who look to their handler with an expression of “can I walk away now?”. In dog language, they inform the petter that they do not want to be perceived as a threat by repeatedly turn their heads and eyes to the side. The dogs yawn to relieve stress. I don’t want my dog to be stressed by doing therapy visits.  

So, I arrived at the hospital branch, apprehensive. I chose a dual-purpose parking space under a shady tree. When Truman got out of the car, his nose went up and he surveyed the area. After using the tree, he headed straight for the door of the building. That was a good sign.

When the activity director opened the door, Truman pulled forward to say hello and to be petted. Truman was on it. He visited patients, obviously enjoying their caresses. He did his tricks flawlessly. He was on it. He drew smiles from folks who weren’t feeling it when we arrived.

Truman still does it.  

Cozy mystery, dogs, Margie Vonn, puppy, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries

Therapy Dog and COVID

Truman Blue is reverting to puppyhood. True, at three-and-a-half he is barely past puppy, but six months ago he was willingly compliant. When I take him out now, he wants to play and explore. His journey back to cavorting canine was a short one.

We haven’t been visiting since February due to the COVID pandemic. He was accustomed to going somewhere at least once a week. Now, I try to get him into public every other week. When I do, he wants to run up to people to get petted. Some folks don’t want to spread their germs, others believe they are immune to disease. It is the latter ones that Truman loves because they don’t hesitate to rub him all over.I keep pet-friendly sanitizing wipes in the car and don’t touch him with my hands for at least an hour. He doesn’t seem to notice as long as I pop him treats for tricks.

I wonder how long it will take to re-train him to be a courteous dog. I wonder how long it will be before we can actually go visit. #trumanbluemysteries, #cozymystery, #therapy dog, #comfortdog, #threapypet