On Wednesday, twelve Bright Spot Therapy Dogs and their handlers were on the campus of Greenfield Community College for the Welcome Back Picnic marking the beginning of the new academic year on this bucolic New England campus set way back from the main road, a long driveway leading in.
It was the last day of summer. A gorgeous sunny, blue-skied day in the 80’s.
The picnic was held outside on the patio and lush grounds surrounding the main classroom building. Once students greeted one another, exchanging stories of their summer activities and munching on food from a long buffet table laden with yummy offerings, their focus invariably turned to the friendly, outgoing therapy dogs. Some of the dogs were settled on the patio, others under a large shade tree.
Students always ask questions about how the dogs are trained to be therapy dogs.
If they have a dog of their own, they often take out their phone and proudly display a photo or two. Love for their own dog is immediately evident. Sometimes they describe their dog’s personality wondering if he or she would be therapy dog material. Further questions are asked: Where do you visit with the dogs? Where is the training held and how long does it last? Always the question, Is there any particular breed that makes the best kind of therapy dog?
Some students at Greenfield Community College hope to incorporate the use of therapy dogs in their future career plans.
Today, with therapy dogs appearing literally everywhere they can be of help, I encourage them to pursue their dreams. It’s more a real possibility today, thanks to scientific proof that human-canine interaction is, in fact, therapeutic. We see therapy dogs today working with therapists, oncologists, funeral home directors, teachers, guidance counselors, corporate executives, and many more. The possibilities today truly are limitless. A far cry from when I started working with therapy dogs 24 years ago!