Cricket is a gorgeous black toy poodle. She has completed her Delta Pet Partner training with her handler Toni and today started what promises to be a stellar career as a therapy dog with the Love Dog Adventures animal-assisted therapy team.
The first place they visited is a dementia / hospice facility. About twenty clients reside there, behind locked doors. It has a warm, welcoming atmosphere and the staff love when the dogs come to visit.
When a new therapy team goes on their first visit it is recommended they arrive early so the dog can become familiar with the new setting. Cricket walked around outside and stopped to greet a few people on the way in.
She saw where she is to go potty and smelled all around.
Cricket was joined by Benny, a mini poodle, and he showed her the ropes. First they greeted everyone briefly and then settled in with the “regulars,” a small group of residents who particularly enjoy the dogs and look forward to their weekly visits.
Cricket had her own blanket with her, which is highly recommended. She settled in on a comfortable lap and knew wherever her blanket is, she is to lie down. She enjoyed meeting the new friends and went from resident to resident, giving some light kisses and others sweet smiles.
She really liked Benny so the two of them spent a little time gazing into each others’ eyes! The residents enjoyed seeing this budding romance!
Everyone agreed she is quite beautiful and extremely soft. They enjoyed brushing her and holding her and learning all about her.
Her handler Toni was a welcome new volunteer and the residents always like to meet new people and hear about them. They may not remember them the next time, but they always seem to remember the dogs.
This first visit lasted about an hour, long enough to see how well the team fit into this environment and population, but not too long as to stress the dog. During the visit Cricket went outside to the garden to relieve herself and take a little break.
A first visit speaks volumes about the training and temperament of the therapy dog. And it tells us so much about the human end of the leash. Cricket did a superb job and was calm and gentle and loving and happy to work alongside a dog she had never met before. That is expected of Pet Partners – all animals must be quiet and happy working with all other animals, even the first time together.
And Cricket’s person, Toni, was such a joy. The residents appreciated her bright smile and upbeat personality.
This group of residents may not remember much about their own lives or the lives of others but they always know it is Monday because the dogs come to visit!
Soon as she returns week after week, Cricket will become part of their very limited memory.