A note from Erin…
As I mostly reside in Austin, sometimes the Bridger Vet blogs have a bit of Texas flair, and today just so happens to be one of those days. This post was written by good friend Bobbi for Divine Canines, a group here in Austin that provides free, animal-assisted therapy services to various groups in Central Texas. You might see Divine Canines in schools, in retirement or assisted-living facilities, in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, or even just spending a quiet moment with someone that needs a four-legged friend. October also happens to be Pit Bull Awareness Month. Pit bulls, bull terriers, and really any of the “bully” breeds have the misfortune for being used in dog fights and other horrors. If you look into their history, in the not-too-distant past they were known as “nanny” dogs as they were charged with caring for children. Remember those old Buster Brown shoe ads? The dog in those ads was a pit bull. Bobbi’s recent Divine Canines post combines both these: a pit bull that does his own Divine Canine work. Good work, everyone!
An encounter observed on one of Divine Canines’s many visits to McCallum Place, an eating disorders clinic…
Ever know one of those people who is so reserved and soft spoken that when they finally speak it makes an impression? Dohggy, the therapy dog, is one of these people.
Dohggy is very Zen. He is quiet, tender, and goes with the flow, but never leaves a doubt that he is fully there with you in the present moment. Dohggy is a Pit Bull mix. He is almost pure white, with eyes that could have you handing over your wallet, heart, and first-born child while still fumbling for something more you could possibly give to this wonderful, full-hearted fellow. Compassion comes off him in waves so strong I have to wonder, is this the real world embodiment of a halo?
Therapy dogs all have their own approach. Many enter with bells on, or in this particular case, a tutu, taking the place by storm and bringing insta-smiles to the entire room. Dohggy and his owner/handler Anna Aurich slid in on the wake of the extroverts, making their way to the far end of the room and settling down to stay a while. Dohggy melted onto the floor, doing his usual, I’ll-wait-right-here-pretending-to-be-a-bean-bag-until-you-need-me routine.
Midway through the visit, not long after some of the more outgoing Divine Canines had already made some touching connections, Dohggy got his chance. Dohggy, being quite irresistible, had already attracted a few visitors, but one person had been holding back. Quietly, on sock feet, she made her way over to Dohggy. Taking a seat next to him where, you guessed it, he was lying sprawled as if all his bones had been left at home. A gentle hand grasped a velvety left forepaw. They sat quietly together, paw in hand.
Dohggy sighed softly. The person did the same.
Five minutes rolled by. 10 minutes, then 15 minutes passed. Eventually, there was a yawn and a stretch. The person started to stand up, gently turning her hand to let go of Dohggy’s paw. Then Dohggy moved. With surprising speed he laid his right forepaw over the top of his left, essentially pinning down the unsuspecting hand with a double-paw move rarely seen outside of the likes of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. I think Bruce Lee’s dog may have done this move once too. The owner of the Dohggy-double-pinned hand turned in surprise. Seeing what Dohggy had done, the tired face broke into a wide smile, followed by a long and very audible, “Awwwwwwww.” If I had an X-ray machine, I could have verified her heart swelled at the sight.
Who could resist an invitation to stay a bit longer such as this one? Not I, and certainly not the lucky soul holding two forepaws in one hand. The decision to move along was rescinded. When Dohggy asks for your heart, you comply.
There are special things in life we associate with signals of good fortune to come. Shooting stars, four-leaf clovers, double rainbows . . . but for some people it’s a double-paw-pin by Dohggy, the Divine Canine.
Somewhere on the wall of a newly warmed heart, the words, “Dohggy was here,” will forever remain.
Author’s note: It should be noted, Dohggy has more than 100 hours of time as a therapy dog. I noticed Dohggy’s Divine Canine vest had no pockets, and I doubt he has a driver’s license. Dohggy did not get 100 hours of visits without Anna Aurich taking time out of her life to train him and drive him to his visits. I believe two hearts were involved in this very important moment of healing.
Humble Observer of Divine Canines