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Myles the Therapy Dog: Another Day In Paradise

Another incredible day! We had a huge group of people mostly on the floor.  Everyone rolled around with Myles.  Everyone got covered in dog slobber and no one cared.  Myles is so cute I can hardly stand it.

First he “notifies” me when it is time to leave for the behavioral health unit at the hospital.  We have been going to this hospital for over 4 years.  It is his FAVORITE place in the universe.  We show up at 3:30pm on Fridays regardless of a holiday.  At about 3pm Myles becomes increasingly anxious and will park himself in front of me.  Being the butler as we call him (because he is so polite) he simply stares at me and waits for me to notice and then looks at the door.  This is my cue to put the laptop down and get his therapy dog vest on him.

He instantly turns into “Myles at work”.  He is very focused.  Typically he stretches out in the car but not on Fridays and not when it is time to work.  He sits straight up and monitors the road on the way to the hospital parking lot.

When we get close he starts whimpering and whining.  The moment I open the door he gingerly (he is the butler) steps down and out of the car and parks his rear next to the trunk.  He then stares at me until I look at him and then he looks at the trunk.  This is my signal to open the trunk and pull out his backpack which is filled with treats, a water dish, tennis balls, and poopy bags.

Once the backpack is on my back he stands up and waits for me to grab his leash while looking at me as if to say, “You know I do not require this leash correct?”

We then make our way inside the hospital passing several people that always looked shocked that a dog is marching into a hospital.  Myles believes his nose is responsible for opening the automatic doors and the elevator doors.  If he points straight ahead his nose causes those doors to open magically.

First stop is the reception desk where he jumps up while the friendliest person on the planet opens the glass window and scratches him on the head.  After a pat, Myles stairs at the locked door which makes a buzzer go off, a red light on the door panel turn green, and the door magically open.

Since this is a lockdown facility I cannot bring anything on the floor with me that a patient could use to hurt themselves.  In fact, the staff cannot even use staples.  The patients have no laces on their shoes.

Second stop is to say hello and sniff whomever might be on the phone.  This is always a surprise and he has had many, many people screech into the poor and unsuspecting person’s ear they are talking to on the phone because they can’t believe a dog is in the hospital.

We then march into the group room to more screeching and “Myles is here!”  Chairs are moved into a big circle while I park myself on the floor.

We start with treats.  You would think this is Myles favorite part but I only do it first so he will allow himself to be pet.  The MOMENT the ball comes out of the backpack he is all about the ball.  Each person gives Myles a few treats while he sits, stays, rolls over (always a production), does a high five, lays down, barks, and sometimes gives kisses.

Then it is BALL TIME.  Myles likes to dig his head into the backpack and fetch the ball which delights every person in the room.  He then makes his rounds to everyone making sure the slobbery tennis ball is handled by all people because it is a proven fact that dog slobber has curative powers.

Let’s stop there for today.  Needless to say or write – before we enter the room people are sad, depressed, and full of anxiety.  By the time we leave everyone is happy, smiling, and laughing.  Ending my long work weeks on this note is just as good for me.  I know Myles loves it more than anything.


Myles is a registered therapy dog working with his handler Kristin Walker.

Myles works with the mental health community of providers, patients, and organizations.

To read more about Myles visit him on the web here.

Animal Assisted Therapy, behavioral health, counseling, group therapy, healing, Kristin Sunanta Walker, mental health, pet therapy, therapy, trauma

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