Tuesday, September 16, 2014


At the end of June Norman passed his Therapy Dog evaluation and last month he went on his first visit. It went so well, I'm not sure who enjoyed it more...me, Norman, the patients or the staff!

I don't have many photos of the actual day so I'm going to post some old ones that are somewhat relative:)

To prepare for the visit, we first went on a hike to wear him out a little. I don't think he really needed it but I figured it couldn't hurt. And of course Kaya deserved an outing before we left her home for the rest of the day. After the hike he had to have a bath, which he hates, but at least it only takes a few minutes. 

Our visit was at a local hospital in the mental health department. For the first half hour we visited with the teenagers. Most of them were upbeat and super excited to see the dogs. Norman was beside himself...delivering kisses, getting his butt rubbed and then flopping over for a belly rub...and repeat. He went from kid to kid to kid and had no problem leaving alone those who didn't seek his attention.

When our time with the kids was coming to an end, the director from the adult section came over to meet us. Just as he walked in, one of the kids was rolling around on the floor with Norman while he laid on top of her, dishing out kisses like nobody's business. The director was concerned that Norman would be too hyper for the adults. Before I could open my mouth, the other therapy dog volunteer assured him that Norman went through rigorous testing to make sure he could acclimate to different situations and the girl who was on the floor with him kept repeating that she was playing with him and got him excited. She was literally squealing, laughing and making goofy noises at him while holding onto his face and pulling on the tips of his ears to move them all around(not in a rough way), all the while he was licking her face. It was sweet of her to stand up for him. He was not hyper in the traditional sense, no jumping up, bouncing around, panting or pulling on the leash. He was just kissing a lot, sitting on the laps of those who were sitting on the floor and rolling over on his back.

Norman with my brother, this was generally what he was up to, plus some kissing, with the girl on the floor...

The director agreed to give him a chance and we walked over to the adult section. They had a circle of chairs set up for people to come join us if they wanted to. Norman immediately plonked down in the middle of the chairs and laid his head between his paws on the floor. He stayed that way as about 10 people came in and sat down. Once someone wanted to meet him, I led him over and he stood quietly next to her while she petted him. He did that with several other people, walking over to them when they'd hold out their hand or call his name. And with each person he'd lick their hand slowly once or twice if they held it out or he'd lay his head on their knee while they petted him. If they leaned down, he would calmly lick their face.

As expected he had no problem switching off his excitement and being still for the adults. Even when one lady was dancing, he wagged his tail looking up at her and stood perfectly still. It's one of my favorite things about Norman and one of the biggest reasons I knew he would be great a Therapy Dog. He is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but he is really amazing at reading people's energy and matching it with his own. Our visit felt a lot shorter than an hour! Overall, our first visit went awesome and the other volunteer was smitten with Norman. Said she could tell he was a natural!

Afterwards I took him to Home Depot. The poor guy was so exhausted that he could barely make it around the store. He kept passing out any time I stopped to look at things. At one point, an employee was admiring him, which he would normally be over the moon about, but this time he just laid his head on her foot while she stroked his ears.

I did actually take this photo that day. He was pooped! :-)

And after that I took him to Best Buy. As tired as he was, he was still on the lookout for potential new friends.

Would your dog be wiped after a day like this? Or would they be ready for more? Or preferred less action?

Related Posts:
Norman is Now a Certified Therapy Dog!
Norman: The Heart Stealer
Norman's Therapy Mission


  1. I tried to imagine Silas doing any *one* of these things and couldn't do it. Home Depot he could probably handle, but I'm not sure. Silas and Norman are basically 100% opposite in every way, though.

  2. This actually brought tears to my eyes thinking about how great he did that day. Way to go, Norman!

  3. What a GREAT THING YOU BOTH DID! A big congrats to Norman! While he may not be the sharpest tool in the box, reading people's energy is a big skill! And fyi, Petey flunked out of therapy school....he couldn't sit still while waiting for his turn with the teacher, and he can't sit still while being petted. So Norman's a genius in my book!

  4. Oh my Dog how incredible! I can't believe how wonderful that is...to read different energies and respond so appropriately. I know if I were ever institutionalized, I'd want Norman there to visit me. Congrats to both of you.

    1. Thanks, me too! Heck, I like it when he visits me even if I'm just sitting on the couch;)

  5. Beautiful, beautiful dog. Congrats on his first day!

  6. That is fantastic! I had given thought to enrolling Hiker into a therapy program before we moved. Now reading about Norman, I wonder if I could/should look into it here.

    1. You should try it! It's so great for everyone involved:) I wish I started sooner!