A couple of months ago, Toby became a registered therapy dog.

Since I adopted him in August of 2012, almost everyone who meets him says what a great therapy dog he would be.

He just loves people and socializing with them.

Together, on Saturday mornings for 3 weeks this winter, we attended classes learning the ins and outs of being a therapy dog team.

Toby yawned during most of the class while looking for training treats but I found the class helpful and motivational.

On the final day of the class, Toby and I passed the test and we officially became a therapy dog team (Note: Bella would rather observe the yard and procure blog content. DiDi is brushing up on her obedience skills and hopes to take the class later this year.)

Toby wearing his cap and scarf after becoming a registered therapy dog.

Opportunity Galore

The therapy dog team organization which we belong to sends us weekly emails chock full of people and places looking for therapy dog teams. In fact, I was told that the organization which is the largest of its kind in Massachusetts, has more requests for therapy dog teams than it does teams.

I figured we would be able to start our work within a week or two.

I was excited for Toby to get the stimulation and bring joy to others.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my dogs in their element with smiles on their face.

Take One

A week after graduation, I read one of the organization’s emails scanning for an appropriate volunteering situation for us to be a part of.

There it was.

A veteran housing facility looking for dog teams to stop by and visit with their inhabitants who suffer from PTSD.

I picked up the phone and made arrangements with the director for a visit.

However, the visit has yet to occur months later because the director has so much work to do for his own job that he hasn’t had time to track down his boss for an official approval.

Why is it that those who need the most help seem to have the greatest burden?

If I could, I would drive to the facility and present the info to the director’s boss myself.

We hope to visit the veterans soon but have been seeking out other opportunities in the meantime.

Let’s Try This Again

Another email landed in my mailbox requesting a dog team visit an elderly yet lively dog lover.

I made contact right away.

After 2-3 weeks of no replies, I received a message asking for Toby’s medical history (FYI- Toby’s medical history had to be approved in order for us to even take the therapy dog class) and a list of 5 medical tests and vaccinations I had to send documentation of receiving.

The one medical element of the request that left me frustrated and dumbfounded was “2 negative TB tests within the past year.”

I have never taken one TB test in my life and I get a physical every year.

So now, I would have to make a doctor’s appointment and take time out of my work day in order to volunteer with my dog.

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Toby: Did the administrators find out that I like to get into the trash sometimes? Is this why I can’t volunteer?

I Get It…Sort Of

I understand nursing homes and other medical facilities must take precautions for their patients and/or residents. I really do.

For many of the people seeking therapy dog visits, one germ can become a life or death situation.

However, I signed up to be a volunteer. The administrators of some of these institutions seem to have lost sight of that.

Why is it so difficult to give to those who need it?!?

Also, why can’t we all get on the same page so that therapy dog teams don’t have to resubmit documentation or even undergo extra medical tests not involved in a typical yearly physical?

Breathe and Try Again

There is a nearby children’s hospital that is eager to have Toby and me do regular visits.

Of course, before that can happen, I need to go in for an interview, orientation, complete a stack of papers and present Toby’s entire medical history.

The challenge is that the hospital staffer who I need to meet with works between 9am and 5pm and I do too.

The woman leading the therapy dog program is very kind and understands that this is a pain in the you know what.

Her positive and sympathetic attitude led me to dissect and rearrange my schedule so that I could leave my desk early one day this week and complete the interview, orientation and paperwork.

A little understanding goes a long way.

I hope that Toby and I can start putting smiles on children’s faces at this hospital sooner rather than later.

Because able and wiling volunteers are only willing to jump through a certain number for hoops before saying enough is enough.

-Margot

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