My dog Wilbur has been a pet therapy dog for eight years.
He has an interesting job. He comes to Wildwood School and roams the hallways getting petted, giving kisses, stealing food and making a racket. Wildwood is a school for students with disabilities like autism and other developmental disabilities.
Kids who are having a tough day get to visit Willie or take him for a walk. Sometimes kids get to visit Wilbur if they’ve hit all their goals and sometimes Wilbur helps kids by being someone they can practice their speech therapy on.
Later in the day a group of adults from Wildwood’s day program come and take Wilbur to a nursing home. That’s really cool because the adults get to be the care givers—spreading the Wilbur magic to old folks who could use some laughs, slobber and a chance to give a hound a treat .
Wilbur’s visits pick up the spirits of the kids, the adults and the seniors he comes in contact with. As for Wilbur, his tail whips back and forth as soon as a student comes to visit and he goes into total overdrive when his friends from day services come through the door.
Pet therapy is a two way street and Wilbur gets as much as he gives.
Last Friday was a special day. Take a look at this video:
Everyone’s happy, having a good time and feeling really good. It may seem like a simple walk down a school hallway but it’s really much more than that.
See that happy group of people? See that happy, prancing hound? Lots of smiles– both human and canine.
Wilbur went blind two weeks ago. He doesn’t seem to mind much.
That’s because he’s got some really good friends and way too much to do to worry about it. There are people he counts on and people who count on him.
Friday he was back on the job and next week he’s heading back to the Teresian House to visit his senior friends.
And that’s what pet therapy is about.