One of the great pleasures I have volunteering my time as president of Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. is evaluating many of the dogs and their owners who become members of the organization. Every dog is different, no two are a like. When people ask me, What makes a good therapy dog? – well beyond the firm requirements that a therapy dog must be non-agressive, predictable, and controllable; must be well-socialized and happy while visiting – beyond those requirements, therapy dogs come in all sizes, breeds, and mixed breeds. And, they run the full range of personalities… sweet, jolly, quiet, exuberant; some with a repertoire of tricks to entertain; others a snuggle or kiss. They definitely are all different – and it is my pleasure to meet them and their owners who are equally as different (as human beings are). But, all who become involved with this type of work have at least one thing in common… we all want to share our beloved canine pals with others to brighten their day. When I leave the test facility after a morning of evaluations, I leave very happy… I’ve met some really great people and wonderful dogs.
Today, I met a sweet, quietly friendly golden/mix named Sally. She delighted the residents with kisses on their hands and made the rounds of the folks in the physical therapy room, giving each one a chance to pet her. Her owner spoke with each person, engaging them in conversation. We moved across the hallway to the large activities room where many of the residents had gathered for a game session. Sally, again, made the rounds, weaving through walkers and around wheelchairs. She did an excellent job making people happy and passed her evaluation to become a Bright Spot.
As we made our way back to the lobby, my next applicant was waiting her turn. Leila was a robust American Mastiff. Leila was an extrovert. She radiated jolliness throughout her entire body! She had staff coming out from their offices to pet her and hug her. She just loved every minute of it! She had a smile on her face everywhere we went. The male residents were especially fond of her and asked the owner questions about the breed… all the while they petted her and she gave them her paw. Leila presented herself very differently then did Sally and each was equally well-received by the waiting residents.
Lots of people were made happy today – and Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. now has two new terrific therapy dog teams!