Monday, July 13, 2009

Therapy Dog

I had my first therapy dog visit with Max.

It was a disaster.

We went to an adult family home for people with dementia. This is a place in our neighborhood that we have passed on our walks and I would say to Max, "Some day when you're a therapy dog, we're going to visit there!" And so I went and visited the manager last week. She was very sweet and delighted to have us come.

On Friday I washed and brushed Max. Did the same with myself. It was a beautiful sunny day. Janet met us at the gate and showed us how to open all the locks and gate handles. We walked in and she introduced us. Smiles from all the staff. Most of the residents were quietly looking off into space or down at the floor.

So how was I to know there was a cat behind the Barcalounger?

The cat peeked his head around the corner and Max saw him. Max went wild barking and the cat streaked across the room. I felt as if I had a Tasmanian devil on the end of the leash. Some of the residents looked over at us and more distressing, some of them were completely unfazed.

I apologized profusely and took him out. I felt like a parent whose child is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. Now I understand why parents give in and hand the child an open box of Lucky Charms. Anything to stop the madness.

I calmed him down and we returned to the house. That is I thought I calmed him down. There was a terra cotta pig sitting by the door and Max saw it and began what I can describe only as "scream barking." After a few seconds he stopped as it dawned on him the pig was not real. Now it was his turn to be embarrassed.

The manager was completely unruffled. She invited us to come to another one of her adult family homes a few blocks away. That visit went better as there was no cat, but one of the residents kept trying to feed Max a pine cone. He made the biggest impression on the staff, all of whom want us to visit again.

We will. As soon as I recover.