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Venturing out into other types of therapy dog work

My little rescue mutt and I are a regular R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dog) team at one of the Cobb County Public Library branches in Marietta.  We are now in our third year of offering R.E.A.D. sessions after school the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month.  We participate in celebrations with the public library, as well as special events with Marietta City and Cobb County Schools.  We also present summer programs for the public library and appear as a guest speakers at after-school pet clubs.

In the back of my mind has always been to be able to make therapy dog visits to some of our local children’s hospitals. Moving 20 miles closer in to Atlanta has made this a possibility, but as I learned yesterday, CHOA has a contract with two other area pet therapy groups, so Boomer and I are unable to visit the CHOA facilities unless we go through the hoops to become a member of one of those groups.  No, thank you.  We’ve already been through enough hoops to join the two groups with whom we are already affiliated.

You know where this is going, right?  Don’t tell me I can’t do something I really want to do…

Yesterday, Boomer and I made our first official hospital visit as a CAREIng Paws team at an area health care facility.  We visited with teens and young adults who are undergoing treatment for substance abuse.  Admittedly, it’s not what I originally had in mind for hospital visits, but another CAREing Paws member convinced me to give it a try.  I’m glad we went.

Living closer in means I can be almost anywhere in Atlanta in less than 30 minutes. Boomer received lots and lots of petting. I had some interesting conversations with the young people.  The one that really stuck with me was the young man who compared the various treatment facilities where he’d been a guest.  I kept my mouth shut, but I so badly wanted to respond “Why do you keep doing the same behavior that gets you back in rehab?  Don’t you want to go on to be a productive member of society?” We’ll be back next month and I hope NOT to see some of those same faces.

In case you were wondering, CAREing Paws is the organization that my sewing business supports.  If you purchase a pattern in my Etsy shop, take a class or commission a quilt, 10% of the proceeds goes to CAREing Paws.