From the time he was a puppy, I knew Peace had the perfect temperament to be a Therapy Dog and so many years ago, we certified as a Therapy Dog Team.
He loves his visits with the children on Pediatrics at UVM Medical Center. As soon as I take out his Therapy Dog bandana, he gets excited and heads for the door. He knows exactly where we are going. I have to give us at least twenty minutes or so just to get from the parking garage up to the fifth floor because so many people want to pet/hug/admire/love/take a picture of Peace as we make our way through the hospital.
He is an enormous Golden Retriever; weighing in at about ninety pounds (down from one hundred given his eleven years, size and proclivity to arthritis). We say he is a Golden channeling “Newfie”. If I had a dollar for every time someone remarks on how huge his paws are, I’d be inordinately wealthy. The answer I’ve come up with to the question I get more often than not – “Why is he so big?” – is to say that Peace needed an extra-large body to house a heart as big as his...
It had been a dream of mine forever to pioneer a Therapy Dog Team on Maternity. Where else would a Doula and her Dog want to be? So, after some research around protocol and the support of the midwives and nursing staff, Peace and I began our visits to the Mother/Baby unit.
Once we announce ourselves at the Nurses Station, the staff come from everywhere to love on Peace. Then we begin our trip down the hallway, knocking gently, opening the door a crack and ask “Would you like a visit with a Therapy Dog?”
Almost always, the answer is a resounding YES PLEASE! For the mothers who have delivered and miss their dogs they have left behind at home, Peace brings much-needed comfort. For the first-time mothers who have left behind their “firstborns”, the dogs they have raised before giving birth, Peace helps them allay the anxiety around going home and introducing their human babies to their dogs. They have the chance to practice right then and there, lifting their new babies for Peace to smell and nuzzle. We visit with the mothers who are on bed rest for preterm labor, have experienced miscarriage and loss and recovering from surgery. Mothers have sat on the floor hugging him and sobbing into his fur.
Peace is always gentle and kind and knowing.
One Doc said it right; Peace is the best medicine in the hospital.
Doesn't it just make sense to have Peace on Maternity at every hospital?