Shortly after I got to work, the elevator opened and someone got off. On that same elevator was the professor who brings her two therapy dogs to campus. One of the dogs, Bonnie–a brown and white mini Aussie–stepped off the elevator so her owner and Tilly, a blue merle mini Aussie, also got off the elevator.
The library staff is always excited to see Tilly and Bonnie. We’ll stop whatever we’re doing and greet the dogs. Somehow the dogs always bring a smile to our faces. I’m glad that our school promotes therapy dogs and encourages the staff and faculty to bring their trained therapy dogs to campus. It really helps the students, especially the homesick ones.
Looking back on my first university that I attended, I think if the school had a therapy dog program I probably wouldn’t have been as homesick as I had been. There I was, hours away from my home. It was the first time I’d been away from my mom for longer than a week. I was scared and despite the fact that I had friends there, I was lonely. I cried a lot. I suffered from depression and wanted to die. I began cutting myself.
I saw a psychologist while I was there. I never told him everything that was going on. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to bother him with my actual problems, so I pretended that everything was hunky-dory. I even convinced myself that everything was all right. I wonder, though, if the school had a therapy dog or two would I have been better off? Would I have been more willing to open up to the professor as I sat on the floor petting the dog? It’s not something I can answer, but I do think it would have helped me.
Later on this year, we’re having a speaker come do a therapy dog conference. I want to talk to her, ask her what I could do to help promote therapy dogs at universities. I want to go back to that little university in Texas and talk to the president and the psychology department and see if they would like to try the therapy dog program to see if it would benefit their students. I know there are probably a lot of hoops to jump through, and rolls of red tape, but if it saves one student from going through what I went through wouldn’t if be worth it?
I am definitely going to train my girls to be therapy dogs. They’ve already proven great with little children, tolerating being picked up and packed around. Two little girls who had previously cried whenever they saw my girls ended up sitting on the ground petting them. It made me feel good watching my dogs and the children interact. It’s something I was to see and feel again and again.
It’s a goal that I hope to fulfill.
Until next time, make sure your fragile human or humans know that you love them.