The Joys of Owning a Therapy Dog


Eagle visiting

One of the benefits of All Dawgs becoming a full time business is that I can schedule regular, weekly therapy dog visits to a local nursing home. All my dogs are therapy dogs but I am actively visiting with Eagle, my eight and a half-year-old Golden Retriever.

Eagle was born to be a therapy dog. It’s definitely the most enjoyable thing he does each week. I always get the impression that he thinks it’s so nice of me to bring him to get petted (and not that the residents get the joy from petting him!) Each week, when I bring out his therapy dog bandana and collar with his ID tag, his tail starts wagging — and it doesn’t stop until he’s visited all the residents each week. The nursing home that we visit posts his visiting times and more often than not, there’s a resident waiting for him in the lobby!

Since Eagle is owned by a professional dog trainer, it isn’t surprising that he is well behaved. However, no dog trainer can teach a dog empathy. Eagle instinctively knows what to do — from laying his head in a person’s lap to laying on the ground, showing his belly in order to get a good laugh! Eagle, and I would suspect most therapy dogs, do things that cannot be taught. They do it simply because they love interacting with humans! Some residents cry each when Eagle visits… but most end up smiling!

What I had forgotten last year, when I couldn’t actively visit, is how much joy I receive from his visits too. Do you own a therapy dog? If so, what joy does your dog bring you when you visit?

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