Daniel is 10 in dog years and 70 in people years. Is there Dog Medicare? Because it would certainly help! Our furry son is an Italian Greyhound (IGGY) and our KanVan-Dog. Our third IGGY, we adopted Daniel when he was one, unaware of his superpowers. (I briefly wrote about Daniel’s career in the blog, An Unbelievable coincidence). It took several years for Daniel’s Tender Loving Canine (TLC) to emerge.
At first, we noticed his patience. Later he demonstrated his eagerness to please. Daniel’s singing voice was the cherry on top! He would visit our daughter Jessica’s group home and bring cheer to everybody.
Before I start putting up a shrine to Saint Daniel, I will admit that he is not as wonderful as other dogs when he is on the leash. He is what some folks call a yapper! Daniel does not hesitate to bark and yell his greetings when we are walking; he screams while pulling his leash to an embarrassing level of zest. If I let him meet the other canine, then all is good.
He gives a sniff or two and is on his way. Is it a small dog thing? “I may be small, but hear me, ROAR!”
Tender Loving Canine (TLC)
Yet, I still believed he had something to offer people who needed some TLC (Tender Loving Canine!) That is why I took him to the SPCA to become a Paws for Love Dog. We filled out all the forms and completed other regulatory steps. The last hurdle was the temperament assessment. I was not optimistic because I knew Daniel barked at other dogs, was a bit of a piggy when somebody offered him food, and will not sit on command. If fact, the only skill Daniel will perform on command is singing.
The evaluator started by asking Daniel to walk by my side, in our indoor walking lane. So far, so good. The next phase was to investigate Daniel’s reaction when encountering another dog on a leash. I knew this could be the point when they look at me and say, “Are you kidding me? You thought Daniel was therapy dog material?”
Paula, the certified animal behaviorist (this is the real deal!) brought a stranger dog into the large room, and Daniel glanced at him and kept walking by my side.
Who Gave Him the Answers?
“What? Is he cheating? Did he get the answers to this test before the test? Who is this canine?”
Next, the behaviorist brought out some food. Daniel did not grab the treat. He waited for an invitation to grab the snack. Seriously, this is not the dog I came into the exam room with; I was utterly astounded at his ability. Was Daniel a trickster? Was I the one who knew nothing?
The examination concluded with the durable medical equipment test. This evaluation was set to determine if Daniel was alarmed by a wheelchair or walker? I knew we had this aced! If he failed this part, then I was going home! Daniel is accustomed to our daughter Jessica and her housemates using durable medical equipment – the therapeutic word for wheelchairs and other large equipment. This was his wheelhouse (no pun intended), and he passed with flying colors.
He’s a Star!
One of our first volunteer settings ( pre-Covid) was at Millard Suburban, a local hospital. Daniel was the first canine staff and had a lot to prove.
Unbeknownst to Daniel and me, the staff was primed for Daniel’s first day. Emailed notices went to everybody in all departments of the hospital.
Daniel was greeted by name when we stepped foot and paw into the facility. Not just the occasional staff member, but every staff member! The staff was thrilled to meet Daniel. Daniel lapped up the attention as he went from fan to fan. I felt like his agent – he was the Star!
Therapy Dog – Service Dog – What’s the Difference
The primary job description for Daniel is jumping on laps, accepting pats, sniffing, and bringing joy to those around him. A therapy dog is different from a service dog; service dogs provide tasks for the owner, whereas therapy dogs provide comfort for others.
Before Covid-19, Daniel used his gifts to cheer children and adult patients in the hospital. Later, he branched out to senior living centers, bringing joy to elderly dog lovers. The words spoken by the young and old, “Daniel, sing me a song!” always resulted in a fascinating canine- tune.
But then Covid hit – and my concerns grew. . The thought of a person petting Daniel became another source of anxiety. Can you Purell the dog? How long do potential germs stay on fur? Endless rabbit holes of scenarios. I decided it was time to stop volunteering about the same time that Paws on Love also canceled visits until further notice.
A Long Couple of Years
It’s June 2022, and we are back to our vists. Our primary location is a local skilled nursing facility. Daniel is singing his songs to residents and staff, and I am once again his agent. He still acts like a different dog when working. Case in point – yesterday, we visited and some of the residents threw Dainel his toy. He performed like an acrobat, jumping and running and making everyone giggle. And then I said, “Drop It!” And he did… The At-home Daniel would have given me the paw – the working Daniel dropped the toy on command, consistently –
Maybe Daniel didn’t cheat on that temperament test; perhaps he knew what he was doing. Maybe he was meant to be a support dog…He is still a nut on the leash- barking and pulling and acting like he has no manners – and my typical response to the unsuspecting passersby is, “Can you believe this guy is a therapy dog?” I can…
Next blog coming in July – Weirdest thing Daniel’s Vet Ever Gave Us
The Vet specialty surgeon called to let us know that Daniel, our Italian Greyhound, was doing very well. He told me about the procedure and ended the call with a note about an unrelated piece of information. I would learn more a bit later about the weirdest thing I ever received.
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