Tag Archives: therapy

Ivy League Dog

Sudo has now been to three fancy northeast schools. First, she visited Brandeis, for a de-stressing even before midterms. Then we went to Tufts, then Harvard.

Sudo lying down, surrounded by people petting her

At the Tufts event, Sudo was the smallest dog in the room, until a field spaniel arrived. (At about 57 pounds, Sudo is rarely the smallest dog in the room, but she still got plenty of attention.) The other dogs included a Leonberger, a Newfoundland, a Great Pyrenees, a Golden Retriever, and a chocolate Lab.

Sudo on the floor, being petted

Naturally, all that attention became tiring, so she took a brief nap under the couch.

Sudo lying on the floor, her nose underneath the couch

Like the Brandeis event, the Tufts event was very well organized; people met us at the door and guided us to the room, which was welcoming and large enough for all of the dogs and people without anyone feeling crowded. The students were grateful for the dogs’ presence.

The Harvard event was in a smaller space and not so well attended, but it was probably due to the weather, which was sunny and passably warm; plus, there was music, free food, and baby farm animals outside. I love my dog, but I’m willing to concede that she can’t compete with baby goats. A few people came through and petted Sudo, but when I realized the room wasn’t going to get overcrowded, I let her come up on the couch so she’d be more comfortable.

Sudo on a leather couch, her paws on my lap

Again, the organizers were very nice and appreciative, and even brought Sudo a little dish of water in case she got thirsty.

Sudo on the couch, staring at her stuffed alligator toy on the floor

“That thesis isn’t going to write itself, you know.”

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First therapy dog visit

In February – blizzardy, blizzardy February (and YES, spellcheck, “blizzardy” is a word, it’s like you’ve never even been to New England. Are you based in San Francisco? I bet you are, and I bet you complain about the “cold” there) – anyway, in February, Sudo was certified as a therapy dog with the organization Dog B.O.N.E.S., and in March we went on our first visit.

Sudo wearing Dog BONES vest

We took Sudo to the Brandeis campus to participate in an event to help the students de-stress a little before midterms. The event was very well organized; the contact person e-mailed us ahead of time with a reminder about the event, directions, information about parking, and a campus map. Fortunately for us, there was an entrance to the building on the same level as the event room, so no need to worry about indoor stairs (the horror!) or an elevator. This also made it easy to take the dogs outside for quick breaks as necessary.

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We arrived and were greeted with much excitement by student organizers and other students. It was a nice big room, so the dog/handler teams (there were six of us altogether) had room to spread out. Students clustered around each dog – not crowding, they all had beautiful manners – and no dog was left un-petted. The most common comment we heard was “her coat is so soft!”; I guess she doesn’t look soft from a distance, but she really is quite velvety.

Jenny with Sudo and a student

She remained on her feet and alert for the first half hour or so, then she lay down on the blanket we’d brought for her and people petted her that way. (After all, why stand while people pet you if you could lie down and get just as much attention? Greyhounds have it figured out. Every energy conservation committee should have a greyhound on it.) The students were all appreciative of the visiting dogs; some of them had dogs or other pets at home that they missed, some just liked animals. One mentioned a study she’d read that petting a dog released happy chemicals in the brain (or, as WebMD calls them, “feel-good chemicals”).

Sudo lying down using a stuffed animal for a pillow

It was kind of funny talking to the other dog handlers, some of whom had taken their dogs on four-mile walks that morning in order to make sure they didn’t have too much energy during the event. We, on the other hand, just hoped Sudo could stay awake for two hours.

Sudo naps on the couch in the sunshine at home.

She crashed pretty hard when we got home though. It was a long [two-hour] day at work!

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