Koko – The Therapist is In!

Hey It’s Jet Here.

My fursister and Mom volunteered weekly at Miami Children’s Hospital for 4.5 years.  Koko LOVED going.  Mom used Koko’s special leash and often added a fancy collar to Koko’s accessories.  Even though we all know that sitting in the backseat is safer for K9s, Koko felt like she would have a more meaningful ride to “work” if she sat in the passenger seat!  Koko drew many stares and smiles from other drivers as Mom threaded her way through morning rush hour.

Upon entering the parking garage, Mom clipped on Koko’s ID which seemed to flip on Koko’s Happy Hostess mode.  Mom educated everyone who saw she and Koko together, explaining that Koko was a therapy dog here to visit the children and their families.

After walking down the LONG hallway to check in at the Volunteer Office, Koko greeted Grace giving her lots of lovies in exchange for a treat to be delivered after working!  They took the elevator to 2E and began their visits.  Here are a few of the most memorable experiences:

  • A little boy, about 4 years old, jibber-jabbered to Koko in his own language as he stood beside her petting her back.  The boy’s Mom began to cry.  My Mom freaked out inside wondering what she had done wrong.  After the boy’s Mom settled down (felt like forever, probably three minutes in reality), Mom asked if she or Koko did something upsetting.  The Mom replied that the little boy was autistic and had not uttered a word in over a month before setting eyes on Koko.
  • Mom knocked as always announcing Koko’s arrival and asked if she and Koko could enter.  The boy’s Mom said ok, explaining that her son, about seven or eight feared dogs.  Mom had Koko sit beside her by the door and spoke to the boy, telling funny Koko stories. (let’s say Mischief Monday caliber.)  The next week, she and Koko went halfway into the room.  The third week, she had Koko sit below the window.  The boy and the Mom sat on the pull out chair.  Mom explained that most people who fear dogs worry about a dog biting them.  Mom always showed the families how Koko had a soft mouth and what that meant.  She told the little boy she would hold Koko’s head (giving Koko lots of kisses) and he could pet her tail.  He ended up petting all the way up to her mid back.  The Mom had tears in her eyes.  Several weeks later, they coincidentally met in the hallway.  The boy was visiting one of the doctor’s offices for a follow-up.  Mom had Koko stay, held her head thinking the boy would pet Koko’s swishing tail.  He surprised both his Mom and my Mom by petting Koko all the way up to her neck!  What a victory!
  • Koko believed all beds were meant for her.  She could not fathom why the hospital did not permit her to hop right up and cuddle.  At 55 lbs. you can imagine the answer!  Mom figured out a solution and placed a chair beside the child’s bed, Koko hopped up, and just like Lucy… The Doctor was IN!  Mom always wanted to get Koko a pair of glasses!  Anyway, towards the end of their volunteering, the first children from the Haitian earthquake started arriving.  Koko transcended the language barrier, sitting in her chair, communicating love and warmth.  Working with translators, Mom learned the words for dog, pretty, sweet and girl.  After the horrors the children lived through, sometimes stroking Koko, receiving a Koko Kiss or looking into each other’s eyes nose-to-nose, provided a few minutes of relief.

Mom considered volunteering with Koko a privilege, knowing they brought a brief ray of sunshine into a difficult situation.  My human grandfather always wondered how Mom could stay so positive seeing sick children every week.  She responded, “You see shoulders relax, sleep begin, laughter emit, eyes soften, fear subside, strangers become connected, positive energy flow, etc. and know that Koko and I made a difference for those children and their families as well as the professionals working so hard to help. You leave with a smile and a slurp of water (served from the water fountain in a cup!)

Another great pet therapy day.

Thanks to Life With DogsConfessions of the Plume and Two Little Cavaliers for hosting the Saturday Blog Hop.

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28 thoughts on “Koko – The Therapist is In!

    • Hey Rocco, Jet here.

      Mom asked me to share her appreciation of your thoughtful comment. She wishes she could train and take me, however, economic times have changed and she had to stop and earn more biscuit $. 😦

  1. It is so wonderful that you are doing this work. Mom is a special education teacher. In her last teaching position she worked with students with very severe cognitive and physical disabilites, most where nearly totally unresponsive and despited being in their teens they functioned at an infancy to level. We had regular visits from a therapy dog and even the most challenged students would obviously light up when the dog came into the classroom. In mom’s current school therapy dogs are not allowed which is really pretty sad since she is sure her knew students, high schoolers with cognitive disabilities that are still severe but less so then in her last position would enjoy the dogs

    urban hounds

    • Hey Urban Hounds, Jet here. Hi Miss Kate.

      Miss Kate? May I say that you indeed provide a most special gift to the world, working with children in your field. Mom and I really, really appreciate that. We have people in our lives in that vein, with a much higher functioning though. Also, my Nana is head injured, so, again, thanks bunches.

      In fact, when my Nana was in the Coma Center in the late ’80s, as part of the 14 varieties of stimulation, therapy dogs came in and really made a difference.

  2. Hi sweet Jetty- All I can say is WOW – thank you for sharing these stories about Koko and Mom volunteering – filled my heart with joy – Koko was one in a million and this is just another example of how incredible your Mom is.

    I’m off to work at Petsmart today – hoping to give lovies to many pups! have a wonderful day!

    xoxoxoxo

    • Hey it’s Jet here. Hi Miss Wendy.

      Gosh, thanks for saying that, you have Mom blushing this time!

      Oh, wow, can’t wait to read who visited you there.

      Have a superwoof day. Sending Jetty kisses and JJ hugs to you, Mr David, Jacob, Cassie, Rex and Barkley xoxoxoxo

  3. Us furry ones bring so much joy to everyone that is not well, young to old. I am a bit wild but my sister is really good with older people and they just love her. We are not therapy dogs but sometimes we get to visit places where there are lots of older people. Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Emma, Jet here.

      So true, even if we’re not official Therapy Dogs, like my sister, Koko, was, Mom says just by being ourselves we provide therapeutic benefits in our daily environments. 🙂

  4. Hi Y’all!

    What a wonderful accomplishment teaching a child dogs can be good and friendly too.

    Just wanted to hop on by and see how y’all are doin’. Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend!

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  5. Mom says that’s pretty close to why we visit people in nursing homes, too. Sometimes we’re the only visitors some of the people we see have. Others tell us the same stories every time we visit about favorite dogs they had in times past. But when we leave, people are smiling and that’s something that doesn’t cost anything but is worth gold!

    Bunny

    • Hey Bunny, Jet here.

      Thanks for sharing your therapeutic gifts with seniors. Mom volunteered in senior centers for a few years as a teenager. You’re right, sometimes you’re the only visitors they see.

      Totally agree, smiles are golden!!! 🙂

    • Hey Lady Litchi, Hey Boks, Jet here. Hi Miss Susan.

      Mom said Koko was a miracle worker wrapped in fur! She could share more stories that would touch your heart. Thanks for sending such kind wishes, we know Koko can tell! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Follow Up Friday – Cucumber Edition | Hey… It's Jet Here

  7. Pingback: Thankful Thursday – Digging Out – Part 1 | Hey… It's Jet Here

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