I recently found a quote from Heber J. Grant that said:
"Service is the real key to joy. When one is giving service for the advancement of humanity, when one is working without money and without price, with no hope of earthly reward, there comes a real, genuine joy into the human heart."
This is one of the reasons I started volunteering at the hospital with Jasmine. It's partially for selfish reasons. When I make others happy, it makes me happy. I really felt good after being at the hospital with Jaz yesterday. And as we all know, there's something special about dogs that bridges the gap between strangers. You can approach and talk to almost anyone- simply because you have a dog. And that fact makes people willing to open up to you.
It was our first day, and we were shadowing another dog therapy team- Candy (the human) and Stormy (her sheltie). We checked in at the nurses' station on each floor to see if there are any patients we cannot visit. (If patients are contagious, there is a sign on the door.) Then we went to each room, knocked on the door, and asked if they would like a visit from a therapy dog. Some didn't. But some did. Some people aren't animal lovers, but the ones that are- this totally made their day.
The hospital had a cart for the little dogs to ride on- (to make it easier for the patients in bed to see them and pet them.) But since Stormy was on the cart, Jasmine walked. If the patient could sit up in bed, I would ask them if they wanted to see a trick. (I just did little ones- like "Be Shy", "Sit Pretty", or "Wave". There wasn't a lot of room to do much more.) If they were lying down, I lifted Jaz up so they could pet her. It was really a rewarding experience. Candy said that on Fridays (which is going to be my regular shift)- the surgery waiting room would be full. And that had more space to do a little trick show. (for the family/friends waiting for people having surgery.)
My favorite areas were the pediatric ER and the pediatric oncology (cancer). There was little girl in the pediatric ER (about 5) sitting on a chair while the mom talked to the nurse. She saw Jasmine and said "Doggy!! Doggy!!" So I took Jaz over to her so she could pet her! Although Jasmine loves everyone, for some reason, she ESPECIALLY loves little kids. (Maybe because they are more her size, or because they play with her.) But her tail really started wagging when she approached the little girl.
And the staff and nurses really love the dog therapy teams too! They need a smile and a friendly tail wag as much as the patients do! It was a really good experience. I highly recommend it! I feel like Jasmine is such a sweet dog who can brighten almost anyone's day. So I need to share her love with those who need it most. =)
And like the quote said at the beginning, you can't help but feel good yourself when you're helping other people.