Gracie Chronicles: Therapy Dog work

Gracie and I went on an hour-long therapy visit today to one of our local retirement communities. We were with a couple other very experienced teams, which is good for us because we both have a lot to learn still. One of the teams included Gracie’s mom, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to behave herself and pay attention to people and not her mom, but she did beautifully. A little greeting before we went in, and she was good to go.

On our last visit at another community, there were seven teams (I think), lots of residents, a small space and lots of noise. It was a good visit, and I was told we did well, but Gracie was pretty trashed after half an hour. She had to be picked up and presented to almost everyone who wanted to see her, and my sense is that this tires her more than the times when she can walk up to people on her own.

Today, the pacing was much less frantic. Lots more space, fewer people, not a lot of noise, and Gracie went the whole hour without looking spent. She got to walk up to some folks, and was picked up and presented to others. But her favorite was that she got to sit in some laps, and Cavaliers will do just about anything to find a good lap to relax in. Some folks were petting her in ways that I don’t think she enjoyed a lot, and I found it easy to say something like: “She loves having her ears pet,” which she does, and it was a good way of redirecting things so that Gracie enjoyed being with the person.

She was enjoyed by residents and staff alike, and a few visitors as well, and we enjoyed the atmosphere, the conversations, and the residents. It was nice being with a couple teams that we could watch and learn from – for both me and Gracie. This particular visit happens on the same day/time weekly, and I hope we’ll go regularly. Gracie seemed to enjoy it a lot.

At the end of the hour she was ready to potty (very quickly on leaving the building – thank you for waiting, Gracie!) , have some cold water to drink and head home. Within a few minutes after getting home this was Gracie. A very well-deserved nap.

We have a lot to learn still, and many new environments to explore, but we’re getting the hang of things. Looking forward to whatever comes next.

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5 thoughts on “Gracie Chronicles: Therapy Dog work

  1. I thought of you and Gracie when I was online last week. I watched a little clip of therapy dogs in a movie theatre watching ‘Billy Elliot.’ I don’t remember what it was supposed to teach them, but it was part of their training. Has Gracie seen any good movies lately?

    1. Those were service dogs rather than therapy dogs, and they were learning to behave well in a theater situation. They were watching a live musical which is a LOT of stimulation, and a real challenge. Gracie doesn’t have the attention span for a whole movie at this time, but maybe in the future. My guess is that unless it includes lots of dogs she’d sleep through a movie!

      1. I knew you would know! I had service/therapy dogs all together. Unless there are dogs in the movie, I’d sleep through it, too! Pass the popcorn, Gracie.

  2. An hour of being especially nice to people would tire me out too! You are lucky she made it home before she crashed. I would have crawled in the back seat and napped.

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