Here we are at a local hospital, taking part in a new program in a geriatric-psychiatric ward. I’m with Rudy, my therapy dog (the big black one) and my wonderful friend, Deb is with her dog, Ethel, and we’re joined by Mabel, the head of volunteers. The two things that will (almost) always cheer you up are dogs, and volunteer work. Deb and I in our blue jackets are easily identified as volunteers. Both Deb and I have been doing this for seven years–first with our previous therapy dogs, and now with Rudy and Ethel. We know they’re remarkable, we know they somehow always seem to know what to do, but last week they made two patients cry. Both were older men and the dogs were such a welcome change from tests, and drugs, and treatments, that these were tears of both joy and relief. They patted our dogs, hugged them, told them that they loved them, and thanked us over and over for bringing them in.
When I wrote my book, “Joy Unleashed” about my first therapy dog, Bella, I realized that I would never be bored or lonely as long as I had a therapy dog. But last week, after this incredible visit, I knew I’d be smiling for a long time. Rudy took a long nap in the back of my car on the way home–it’s hard work being an ambassador of cheerfulness.