On July 17, 2016 Chooch, the therapy dog, died suddenly. He had been a stellar companion in session for more than ten years, delivered seminars on pet therapy with me, and helped make patients feel welcome and loved. It came without warning and left me flatfooted with grief. It hit many of my patients the same way.
After a week of shock and sadness, Dave made the (calculated?) mistake of offhandedly suggesting, “Why don’t I get you a puppy like Lucy?” Lucy is our other therapy helper.
I perked up. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t have any thoughts of getting another dog so quickly. But there it was, the image in my mind of a small, white, fluffy, loving puppy.
Problem: Having a puppy is a lot like having a child. As soon as they’re grown, God gives us the neurochemistry of amnesia and we forget how awful the biting, chewing, gnawing, frequent urinating (on the carpet), the barking (high-pitched) can be. We forget how tired and frustrated running after a pup with your favorite blouse hanging from his razor sharp teeth can make you. Or how fast he can pull down a table cloth that is covered with your grandmother’s china. Or eat an oriental rug inch by inch so you don’t see it till the damage is done.
I forgot all of that. Chooch did it all. But as soon as Dave said “puppy” all I saw was happy, tired pup in my lap and had no recollection whatsoever of what it was really like. Hence the video below—note to my future self, a time capsule of intact memory.
So, to protect my patients’ clothes and shoes, Jack, our new therapy dog, is in training. Until such time as he can spend a day without ruining something, he will stay in training. We have been getting glimpses of the champion he’s going to be—bright, eager to please, loving, happy, even a few moments of true, blissful calm. And he’s growing every day. Soon, we hope within the year, he will be in session to love you and make you laugh and lick your tears away when they come.