A guest column by Terry Weaver
As some of you may recall from a past column, I’ve been taking my dog, Tanner, to obedience school and it has worked wonders for him.
Since Tanner’s been doing so well, I decided to get him tested to be a therapy dog with Therapy Dog International. The testing and paperwork all went fine and in a few weeks we were ready to begin something new!
I thought Tanner would do well with a nursing home to start with so I got him bathed and brushed and on June 27 we visited Summerville at Lakeview in Groveport. I had no idea what to expect, but my friend Donna and her dog Zoë from Columbus All-breed Training Club met me there to show us the ropes.
Tanner loved it!
The staff at Summerville was so friendly and the experience was just unforgettable. After checking in at the receptionist desk we headed to the Alzheimer unit. Tanner pranced right in there so happy and calm. It was like he knew what he was supposed to do.
We went up to a couple of ladies to see if they would like to meet Tanner and Zoë. They were so happy to visit with the dogs.
Tanner, who has never ever done this before, walked in between the two chairs and turned his little body around and looked up with his big brown eyes and stood there while he got petted, talked to, and loved on. That was the same scene with each group of folks we met that day. Tanner would walk up calmly, maneuver himself so the folks could reach him and would look up to connect with them. We would chat for a few minutes and some would tell us stories of pets they had in the past.
One resident was petting Tanner and got quiet and looked off in the distance. I could see something happening between them.
At times Tanner would do a few things to entertain a group, but nothing major, just sitting, lying down, and shaking a paw. That brought out smiles and laughs.
One gentleman in a wheelchair showed me how observant Tanner can be. We went up to the man in the lobby and Tanner kept trying to go over to the side of the chair closest to a wall, which made it a little challenging for me. Tanner didn’t want to stay on the side I wanted him to stay on. After a few minutes I understood why. The man did not have use of his left arm. Somehow Tanner knew he had to get on the other side of the wheelchair so the man could pet him.
Donna told me that after about an hour, the dogs would be tired from working. I almost laughed because I thought there was no way Tanner would tire of being petted. But she was right. Zoë and Tanner were tiring and we said our goodbyes. As we walked out the door a resident called out, "We hope you come back soon."
The staff and the residents at Summerville at Lakeview made us feel so welcome and with the smiles and stories Tanner brought out of those folks, there’s no doubt we will be back often.
Terry Weaver is a Madison Township resident.