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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
Gryff and Jinx Mommy
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Therapy dog question

I brought Gryff back to the nursing home today. While we visit, I hold him so the residents can pet him since they can't bend down to the floor. Gryff only tolerates being held so long before he wants to get down. Gryff will let them pet him, but he wiggles around a lot. He also doesn't maintain any kind of eye contact with the residents. Gryff is still very young - not quite a year and a half. Is this something he will get better with in due time?

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 12:36 PM
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I can't answer for Gryff but I can tell you from my experience with my two different dogs. I took Dora to one hospital and she hated it. She was miserable. She was fine when I took her and Belle at the same time to nursing homes. It wasn't as one on one and we did it with a group of people and their dogs. In that setting her and I interacted a lot but at OSU the visits required Dora to sit with patients and we only did it once. She just looked at me to save her! Where as Belle in attitude is totally different in nature. She honestly likes visiting other people and leaving me is fine. She wants to see/know where I am but she has never had an issue going with others especially if she is being loved.

For Gryff, it could also be awkward you are holding him for the residents and he could get uncomfortable or warm after a time. Are they in a group setting for the meetings or you going to individual rooms? For Belle in rooms, I just put her on their laps in bed sitting up or for patients in wheel chairs on their laps. But then again she is totally fine with doing that when people come to visit at our home as well.

I also think they calm down and relax more as they get used to it and they grow older. You could also always try another facility as well.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
Gryff and Jinx Mommy
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I go room to room. He is much better when I put him down on their beds. He even climbs up on them and gets close to their faces.

I also think the smells are a bit overwhelming for him. Has that been an issue for either of your dogs?

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 02:37 PM
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Yesterday morning I took Chico to a large assisted living facility. We visited mostly in the residents' rooms. I noticed he was quite distracted by the smells. He wanted to check out their wastebaskets, etc.

I had to hold him up so he could be petted, since he too is short. He wasn't too comfortable in people's laps because he is a little too large for some laps. I would support him with my arm while he was on their laps.

I did put him on some beds and that worked better.
Then I went to a larger rooms where several people were gathered and I actually sat in a chair with Chico in my lap right next to the person, who could reach and pet him.

In the afternoon I went to the Rehab Hospital and worked with the Therapist in a small room with previosly selected patients. They had a table set up with a sheet covering it. Chico stayed on the table within reach of the people and they brushed him and petted him. The table worked better.

I'm constantly assessing whether Chico seems happy doing this. If I thought he didn't enjoy it, I'd stop.
I watch for signs of stress with Chico. He has gotten so much more comfortable over the past year. He gets out of the car and runs to the building so I think he really likes it. He knows that the recreation prople give him treats when he is done.
He is 4 years old.
Gryff is still young. I'd expect that he'll get more comfortable as he gets older and more used to the setting.
Does someone besides you give him a treat at the end of the visit?

Chico, Cali, and Finnegan
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-08-2008, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
Gryff and Jinx Mommy
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There is a nurses station where he can get some treats. I like the idea of having him on my lap next to the resident. I'll give that a try next time.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-11-2008, 08:05 PM
Henry 2006-2018/ Kordelia
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I've always wondered about this. With kids they're short and will just plop onto the ground with the dog.
It makes sense with the different smells too.

Maybe it will take a bit of training, giving him a treat for "working/visiting". And keeping the visiting to a minimum of a couple of residents and gradulally bringing the number up.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-11-2008, 10:58 PM
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Ivy- When Maddie was evaluated for therapy dog, I was told that if I noticed any behavior that indicated Maddie was stressed or not enjoying a situation, we should leave immediately. They also said that if Maddie seemed tired, we didn't have to stay for the usual time. So far, Maddie loves her therapy dog activities. She lays for a full hour for our weekly Read to Rover, and even looks likes she's enjoying it when the children show her the pictures. And she enjoys the attention that she gets from the Alzheimer patients. She actually jumped up and sat next to a lady sitting on a couch. She gets excited just to see the building. Some nursing homes have strange smells, and that may affect Gryff's behavior. Our facility is very nice and very clean, so that helps. I'd keep Gryff's visits short and maybe only visit a few people and leave. Maybe have the patients give him a treat. Maddie is 2 years old, and Gryff is still young. Give it some time and then reevaluate.

Jeanne (Mom to Maddie)
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