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Therapy Dogs

For many years my dog, Jake, and I used to visit my Mom in the nursing home that specialized in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. During those visits I’d watch senior citizens – most of whom lived in the private world that the disease inflicts upon them – perk up whenever Jake came over to say hello. Old faces would start to smile as the residents ran their gnarled fingers through Jake’s thick black-and-white fur.

Debra J. White, with the Phoenix Animal Care Coalition http://www.pacc911.org, tells this story about her therapy dog, Luke:

“I’ve boasted about my therapy dog Luke before but I’ve been so proud of him lately. Our audience has been little kids lately, toddlers 2-5 years old. One little girl who loves dogs and cats but has never had one, hugged and kissed him, played with his ears, toes, and nose and Luke just rested on the floor. Then he kissed her. She laughed.

“Another little one wanted to share her Pepperidge Farm goldfish with him. I said to just give him one. She dumped out her entire cup and of course Luke ate them all. That made all the kids giggle. I read a Cat in the Hat series to them. And they asked about dogs in the hat.

“Luke wasn’t my first choice that scorching hot summer day in 1999 but I am so glad I listened to my friend when she said adopt him. For a throw away dog who was in a shelter at least twice, he’s healed a lot of hearts. “

I’ve discussed it with my4 cats, and they unanimously agree that being therapy felines isn’t their cup of tea. Guess that will have to wait until a new dog finds me….


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