Dear Elaine Smith:*

{ Monday, December 17, 2007 }

Thank you for helping make therapy dogs a reality in the United States. If you hadn't stepped up, it still would have happened -- it's too good an idea not to take root. But wow, think of the massive organizational and publicity work required to build the foundation for therapy dog programs! Think of the raised eyebrows of the first person you told this idea to!

Those of us who walk around sound and healthy, without a family member or friend in immediate crisis, forget how many people will live out their lives confined to a room. We don't think about losing control over the most basic choices -- meals, bedtimes, the company we keep, whether we will sit facing a window or a wall.

What are the ills that unfold when a person is shut off and loses the chance to give love?

Therapy dog programs address, like nothing else does, the need to give love. For a little while, a person who may be otherwise alone can pour out love and feel affection returned.

Imagine seeing only people who are there because they have to be! Then putting your arms around an animal whose whole body and eyes tell you they would rather be petted by you this minute than be anywhere else in the world. The emotional release must be tremendous.

Thank you for the long and quiet work you must have done to introduce this idea in the United States. Thank you for helping to set standards and helping facilities accept these programs. I wish that your voice and ideas find avenues always into good changes. And I hope that something pretty is blooming where you live; that'd be nice.

Ann Elizabeth

*If you're my aunt, also named Elaine Smith, reading this: Hi! We're all doing well here. Hope you have a happy holiday and enjoy the grandkids.

Therapy Dog Links

Therapy Dogs International
Delta Society - the research powerhouse for animal-human interaction
Therapy Dog requirements
Canine good citizen test
Therapy dog resource links from DogPlay

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