The Good Dog Foundation’s mission is to ease human suffering and promote recovery from trauma and stress by providing animal-assisted therapy services to people in the greater New York metro area. Good Dog trains and certifies dog owners and their dogs to become volunteer therapy dog teams that visit partner healthcare and educational facilities. Below, Volunteer Diane shares her experience doing visits with her Good Dog Millie.
Years ago, my Dad was in the hospital and two beautiful Golden Retrievers stopped by his room while I was visiting. My Dad’s entire demeanor changed when those two dogs and their kind owner came into the room. For that moment I could tell my Dad wasn’t thinking about being in the hospital, and that was a tremendous gift for both of us. I knew right then that if I were ever to have a dog in the city, I would love to have the chance to be a part of a therapy team.
Fast forward several years, and our then 8-year-old daughter started asking for a puppy. Shortly thereafter, Millie was a part of our family. In addition to being hypo-allergenic, she was immediately sweet, smart, calm and quiet. She was “curious but not fearful” in the breeder’s words, and we all thought she was a perfect fit for NYC and for us. And as it turns out, these are several of the traits that make a good therapy dog.
During our daily walks and various outings with Millie, we were (and still are) stopped constantly on the street by people who want to meet her. Many people commented on how calm and sweet she was and we were often asked if she was a therapy dog. Finally, when Millie was about 3 years old, the time was right for me to look into becoming a certified team. A friend of ours had been a Good Dog therapy team with her Boston Terrier and insisted The Good Dog Foundation was the only place to be certified, and we are so happy that we followed her recommendation.
Recently we became part of the “Caring Canine Team” at a local hospital. It was always my hope to visit cancer patients as my family has been touched deeply by cancer, and I am thrilled to be part of the volunteer community there. Every week you’ll find us greeting patients, family members and caregivers, almost all of who can’t wait to visit with Millie — and sometimes even wait in line to see her! Often I have patients come to me and say they hadn’t planned on leaving their room but when they heard Millie would be there, they just ‘had to get out of bed and visit.’ Our biggest challenge is getting to and from the Patient Recreation Room, as we are stopped in hallways and elevators on our way by hospital staff and visitors who all walk away with a smile. It is heartwarming to see the effect a therapy dog has on people who are going through so much. Millie brings joy to each and every visit just by being herself and I feel so lucky to be a part of the joy that she brings to others.Diane, Team Millie
For more information on how to become a Good Dog volunteer team, please visit http://thegooddogfoundation.org/volunteer/potential-teams/. DogGo Dash Club is proud to partner with and promote organizations with the dual focus of helping both people and pets.