You Never Know Who You Will Run Into
Matilda & I have visited the Madison Ronald McDonald house only a few times and they are quite easy going visits with the residents and staff. Last month, we signed in and the volunteer pointed to the visiting room and said, “They are waiting for you.” As we turned around, we could see the small room was filled with Girl Scouts. They had just finished making the night meal for the house and were heading home when they saw the event board which announced a therapy dog was coming, so they decided to stay later and meet her. For those who have gone on a dorm visit, this was a mini version of everyone petting at the same time! After we got settled, they asked some really great questions:
- Whose dog is this? She’s our pet and I get to be with her every day.
- How often do train with her? Every day since she was a puppy.
- Did she have to go away to a special training place to learn this? Nope, we took her to basic obedience classes and had lots of interactions with other dogs and people. We have to take a test every 2 years to see how we are doing.
- How did you get her to sit and lay down without saying anything? (Tilly will respond to just hand commands most of the time) I can show you, would you all like to learn? Yes, Yes. I demonstrated the sit, down, and stand commands; then I asked if they wanted to try. Almost immediately, they formed a line and were ready to go. So for about 10 times in a row, Tilly sat, laid down, and stood for each of the kids.
The evening ended with the normal visits with the residents and staff, so all back to normal in Matilda’s mind, I hope. She got extra Cheerios at the car for all her hard work that night!
Our second surprise visit happened at Mounds. We were wandering around buying food and treats, when someone said “Matilda!” from the end of the aisle. One of the nurses from unit 2B at the VA recognized Tilly and had to come and say hi. She thanked us for our time up there and hoped to see us on our next visit.
I’m amazed every time I experience visits like these or hear similar stories from others, of what an impact our pups can have on those around us.
My father-in-law is a school crossing guard down the street from the library where Matilda and I visit once a month for a Read With Me session. Last week, he was crossing a couple of his regular elementary kids and asked where they got all the books they were carrying home. They told them at the library by the school. He knows we visit there, so he asked if they have ever read to the big black dog that goes to the library from time to time. The younger boy said, “Yeah, that’s Matilda!”
100 visits as pet therapy dog !
In May 2017, Matilda had her 100th visit as pet therapy dog. It was at the Ronald McDonald House in Madison. For Tilly, it was just another day, but the engineer side of me tried to quantify all those 100 visits:
- 300 or more new people we were able to meet
- 100 baths (lots of loads of laundry, boxes of Cheerios for treats, and hours of time in a bathtub with a big furry dog)
200 hours (8.3 days) in constant contact with Tilly during the actual visits (remember, don’t
- drop the leash!)
- 100 hours (4.2 days) traveling to/from the visits
It all adds up to me being the luckiest guy in the world to be able to spend this amount of time with our pup!
Lance with a Bernese Mountain Dog is a familiar sight to long-time DOC members. Lance and Baloo visited for many years; his new Pet Partner is four-year-old Matilda. They visit at the UW dorms, the VA Hospital, and various community expos and fairs. Lance also helps with Pet Partners evaluations.