This is a little article I wrote for the BCCA Bulletin in 2012 about therapy.

To Give Back

   Written by Julie Froning

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Gch. Pentangles Forever and Back RN PT HSAs CGCTDI VA aka Patrick and I are relatively new to the therapy world.  We got our CGC and Therapy Dog International certificates the beginning of this year. For some time now, I have wanted to do therapy work.
I have been in Bearded Collies since 1982.  I’ve done my fair share on conformation, dabbled in rally.  Patrick also just received his HSAs in herding this spring.  But Therapy work has to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying activities I have pursued.
We joined a little group here in the Northwest called Therapy Dog Pack. We do group visits and exchange our experiences and knowledge with each other.  This group also helps people like myself get started in finding a facility to visit.   We meet once a month for a meeting and usually do group visits each month also. I can’t express how much this little group helped me get started. Instead of just going and finding a place on your own and “winging it”. They mentor you at one of their own facilities and show you the ropes for your first time out.  This certainly helps you feel more comfortable when you start at your own facility.
I can’t tell you how full my heart is when I leave a facility and Patrick has given 100% of himself to every person he met.
I’m sure you all have heard this before but, the dogs behave differently when they enter a facility.   They aren’t their rambunctious selves like the beardies we live with.  They are calm, cool, and collected.   They know how fragile these folks are and respect them.   Don’t get me wrong though, Patrick loves all the attention.  He turns his little head to the side and lays it in their laps so they can pet and scratch his ear.  It is so endearing.
We met a woman who is blind and in a wheel chair a few weeks ago.  I took her hand and guided it along his head down his back.  Showing her how long his head and body coat was.   I told her about the Bearded Collie and the colors they came in.  She was so happy that she had a little tear in her eye when we finished.  We went on to say hello to others.   At the end, Patrick wanted to go back to her and just sit bye her side.   So I told her he was sitting on the right side of her wheelchair waiting for her. She put her hand down; he made sure he was in the correct position to accommodate her.  I could just tell we had made her day, maybe her month. It certainly made me so very proud of my dog.
They also have fun watching him do his little tricks. Patrick has never seen a chair he didn’t like.   In our last visit he proceeded to jump up in one of those walkers with the seats in it before I could stop him. He was the star of the show!  They all wanted to take pictures of him in the walker.  I was at another facility doing a group visit.  After we had introduced ourselves and our dogs we individually spoke to folks on our own.   I was sitting talking to two women, I look down and Patrick is laying over both their sets of feet.  It was the cutest thing ever!   They said it was like having their own personal foot warmer.
Those are the kind of memories that make me find the time to do this work for others.  These folks have had to give up their homes and their animals to be in these facilities.  I love hearing their stories about the dogs they had when they where younger.
If you have ever thought about doing therapy work, I would encourage you to pursue it.  It is one of the most gratifying things you will do.     It is a give give situation.  You give the elderly something special in their day and they in return, give you and your dog the opportunity to give back to all these folks that so deserve it.


Julie Froning- Wagsalot Bearded Collies