M&M’s What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am?, EECT
written by handler Judy Simonsen:
Beckett came to Minnesota to be part of our family in the spring of 2016. Molly & Melissa knew that Tom & I were involved with volunteering in a therapy dog group and they knew that Beckett would be a great therapy dog.
I know I’m biased, but to say she’s a “great” therapy dog is an understatement! She is calm, not distracted by other dogs, noises or other distractions. She’s happy to sit by the folks we visit as long as they’d like and is absolutely content to listen to whatever they want to say to her.
Tom & I are both certified (Alliance of Therapy Dogs) to handle Beckett at our visits. We usually visit with our local therapy dog group. There might be 3 to 8 other dog & handler teams at each visit.
We usually visit on weekend afternoons, mainly at senior living locations. The residents gather in their community living room, each team takes a couple of minutes to introduce their dog, tell a bit about their dog and breed…and then we spend time visiting and talking with each resident. We have a lot of conversations – reminiscing about dogs they grew up with, stories of dogs their family members have and so on. We are often told “This is the first Bloodhound I’ve ever seen in real life!”. We also visit with staff, when possible. With staff as well, we have great chats about their dogs and other animal companions and, of course, a chance to stroke those long, soft bloodhound ears is certainly a way to help relieve stress.
In the past year or so, we also have had a chance to start to visit at some other locations – monthly visits at the student union at a couple of the colleges nearby (bringing some cheer to students missing their dogs when away at college, calming stress during testing week); reading during children’s story time at the local library (also a chance to chat with children & parents about being safe around dogs), visiting weekly with one other team at the memory care area of one of the senior living centers. We had recently started the application process to volunteer in elementary schools in the reading program and with the counselors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a halt to our visits for now. We look forward to being able to return to “Sharing Smiles and Joy” (the Alliance of Therapy Dogs slogan) when it is safe to do so.