The Love Dog Adventures animal therapy team is a small program, thus choosing our partner facilities is critical to the success of our volunteers and our host facility. We get far more requests than we can accommodate and we always want to serve our partners as they deserve.
When we began volunteering at a new long-term residential care facility this year, we knew right away it would be a productive partnership. The first people we met, who invited us in for a site visit, understood perfectly what we do and how we value working with great facilities. I brought my tiny Petey for the first visit and he was such a hit. But at only four pounds, he was really too fragile for the population we were meeting. So I decided this would be Benny’s place. Selecting the right volunteer teams is critical especially in the beginning of a new relationship.
The first time I brought Benny there, I knew it was the right choice. We sat in the lobby waiting for our facility contact, and several people were immediately drawn to this little guy. He is a small poodle mix but sturdy and just has the most beautiful face and sad eyes.
When our contact person came out to greet us, we already had a fan club gathered and smiles were all around. She was so pleased with the reception to the dog.
We now begin every visit sitting in the lobby and people start gathering. This gives us the opportunity to tell them where we will be meeting upstairs. Benny gets to stretch and show off some of his tricks before settling down in the community room.
The facility also posts our visits on their Activity Board and when it says the time Benny will be there, people are excited.
What makes this such a great host facility for us is that every single person affiliated with the residence welcomes us warmly. They love seeing the dog, they understand that we are there to augment what they do, not be in the way. We are the only team visiting at this point, but looking forward to bringing in other dogs soon.
They appreciate that our teams at both ends of the leash are the most exquisitely trained and prepared to work with their residents. And they understand that the currency for volunteers is respect, appreciation and communication.
I was told that several clients that do not regularly come out of their rooms, come out to see Benny. And some people who were locked in depression or boredom are now smiling, looking forward to his visits.
Sometimes we have a room filled with people, but this last visit we primarily spent time with just two people but it was the most worthwhile hour of our week.
So while our facility partners thank us for bringing in the Love Dogs, this week I want to thank all of our partners for being such an important partner for the Love Dog Adventures success.