A Sneak Peek Into Roxy Therapy Dog Visits
By Diane Morgan
Gentle Visits at the Hospital
Juma and I visit Doylestown Hospital. We start in the lobby and then go to same-day surgery, then to pediatrics to check to see if there are any children in the hospital. Many times there are none. We then go to patient rooms. Often I check with the nurses to see if they can recommend any people whom they think may particularly enjoy a visit with a dog. This is what I consider very gentle visitation. Because Juma is so big we are extremely careful how we move. I hold him by his collar until we get situated in the room. Sometimes I will sit in a chair and Juma does what he loves to do, sits on my knee. From a little distance, patients can converse a little better while smiling at the dog. It’s just what works best for us.
An Emotional Visit at the Courthouse
We also visit the courthouse on family court days. The first time we went to the courthouse for orientation with Amy Rose, the judge called for “the dog” to come into the courtroom. Amy said she only remembered one other time a judge asked that the dog actually come into the courtroom. There were three children standing with the judge. We went right up to them. The judge was questioning the kids about school and what was happening in their lives. He asked them if they had any questions for him. One kid looked at him and asked if they could say "hi" to their Dad. The judge said yes, and, as they ran to him, the Dad lifted his arms to embrace them all while his hands were cuffed. It was pretty emotional just seeing this. I never knew quite what to expect when signing onto this type of visitation. That event is seared in my mind. Since then we walk up and down the corridor and talk to the kids and parents. Occasionally there are very young children so we give them one of the cute Gund Roxy stuffed dog toys. There is naturally a lot of tension doing courthouse visitations.
Fun Visits at the Elementary Schools
Juma & Friends
Visiting elementary schools is by far the easiest. We have been going to the same classroom for 8 years, Mrs. McGovern’s 4th grade at Groveland. We also have gone to a second Groveland classroom over the years, currently 1st grade, Ms. Janowski. School is lots of fun because I am also a substitute teacher and a lot of the kids know me from my teaching. They always want a report on Juma. I always start my Juma visit with a “report” on what Juma has been doing since we were last in class. First graders have so many funny questions to ask and have a great memory of what they were told since the last visit.
Juma has stacks of cards that kids have made over the years and given to us at the end of school year, his birthday, Christmas, etc. The one thing that seems to have made the most consistent impression is when I bring his toothbrush and tooth paste and show them how easy it is to brush his teeth.