Sometimes we wonder if what we do is truly having an impact on the clients we visit. The visits are so subtle in nature and the experiences shared very gentle.
While animal assisted activity falls under volunteer programs at most facilities, animal assisted therapy falls under alternate therapies for many. Every touch is therapeutic and can be taken to the next level of occupational, physical or emotional therapy.
Kirby is wearing a little shirt now until his hair grows back from recent surgeries. The shirt also keeps him clean and hands away from the healing wounds.
But he is a boy after all and as much as I try to pick up his shirt, when he pees, it gets dirty! Thus I have several shirts with me at all times.
So as expected on our way into the facility we visit each week, he peed and got his shirt a little wet! The people we visit see us every week and love Kirby and know all about his “issues” so I took him in and told them I was going to change his shirt first thing.
One of our clients asked to help and she was able to wiggle him out of the dirty shirt. It was difficult for her to maneuver the shirt over his paws and head but she did it!
She was a bit tired but I then said “Now we have to dress him again in a clean one!”
So with a very willing Kirby, she got the new shirt over his head, over his two front paws and smoothed it over his body.
This was a big effort for her and Kirby was so happy to be fresh and clean.
Then our client cleaned her hands and was ready to do something else.
Then she noticed Kirby was thirsty so she held up his little cup of water. Holding that small cup steady for him to drink out of was a huge accomplishment for her. Her hand remained steady and Kirby never spilled a drop.
Then he held his head and decided his ears needed scratching! So with him balanced on her lap she scratched his ears. He loved it.
So the very simple act of undressing and dressing a dog, giving a dog water and then scratching his ears was half an hour of “therapy” and both client and little dog were so proud of themselves.