Getting Back To It

If a volunteer is going to take time away, more often than not....summer is the time. Why? It used to be that a month was taken off by volunteers during the hottest of summer. It's hard on the dog, there are pests to consider (fleas, ticks) and it's just plain hot. Plus, it's common for any volunteer to experience a wee bit of "burn out" and time off is good for the soul of all involved (volunteer and their animal).

When you get back to doing your volunteer work, start out just as though you're starting over. Don't over-do. That's why you took a break! If you generally visit your facility for an hour, begin by visiting for 30 to 40 minutes. There's a lot to consider.... you're own stamina, your pet's stamina, interacting with patients and being your animals' advocate. It will wear you out.

Enjoy your summer and take it easy.... even when visiting.


When to say "No"

Doing pet therapy is all about giving of yourself, your time, your pet to better the comfort and well being of others. It is a selfless calling. But one must remember that part of your role is to be a good advocate for your dog .... and yourself. There will be times when it's simply better to "just say no" and not do visits that day.

Dogs are selfless creatures and rarely will a therapy dog ever refuse to go on visits because they're not feeling well. That's where we stand in and advocate for the dog and cancel visits till he's feeling better. Injury, upset tummy or age can be contributing factors.

As therapy volunteers we need to advocate ourselves too. There are times when we simply should not go do visits even if we're emotionally up for it. Recent injury; stay home till you're fully recovered. Lameness, bruising, healing sores should never be shared with your patient clientele, if for no other reason than it distracts from the purpose of the visit. Illness; always stay home till fully recovered. No patient wants to get more than they bargained for from visiting with you and your dog. Emotional upheaval; we all have bad days, but if you don't feel up for putting your troubles aside to visit, follow your senses and take a day off.

Most volunteers will agree that it's difficult to say, "no" to their weekly visits when something else arises in their own life. Take care of yourself and your therapy dog first and foremost. What makes pet therapy the amazing gift that it is .... is you.... by having the confidence to know when to say, "No, not today."