January 01, 2012

Therapy Dog Visits

Anita Fuoss

Solo is a working dog. A Cardigan Welsh Corgi, he accompanies me to my office in Murdo, South Dakota, on a regular basis. There he greets workers and visitors, provides stress breaks, and generally keeps everyone from being too serious.

Solo’s most important work, though, is performed outside the office. Solo is a therapy dog and visits retirees and the chronically ill in the local nursing home. He has sat at the foot of a man who reminisced about the great herding dogs he saw as a boy growing up on a cattle ranch. He has sat on beds and been hugged repeatedly. As a dog with short legs, he’s been lifted up for men in wheelchairs to pet him and tell him what a nice boy he is. A woman who had withdrawn into herself, barely speaking to anyone, told him at great length about her day and what she watched on television. He has also been quite disappointed that he was not allowed to accept some of the treats offered, including the hamburger one woman had slid off her plate into a napkin and then tried to feed him, all in one piece! He enjoys these people and they enjoy him.

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