So we could take them off of course!
Pet Partners does not approve of dogs wearing clothes or costumes when working as therapy dogs, but sometimes we use clothes as part of the therapy session.
I put doggie pajamas on Benny today so Julian could figure out how to get them off. I also had his Pet Partner therapy vest on top of the PJs.
Julian had to first figure out how to get Benny's feet through the four legs of the clothes. Then he had to figure out why he was stuck! The vest was in the way. So of course he had to FIRST remove the vest.
Thinking all of this through and staying on task was a big accomplishment for Julian. Don't get frustrated. Don't get mad. Don't get quick with the dog. Just stay on course and figure it out.
Once that was accomplished, Julian could tackle removing PJs that had all four legs covered. Benny was the most tolerant dog, just standing there letting Julian manipulate the clothing,. Then he lay down because he thought this was just taking too long so he might as well rest.
I had practiced putting on the new PJs and removing them all sorts of ways before so Benny was familiar and comfortable with having his legs moved around and the PJs taken over his head. I always do practice runs before trying any new behavior with my dogs so I am certain they will not only comply with my requests or commands but enjoy this new thing we are doing. Benny loves learning new things so the night before was great fun for him as I put on the PJs and took them off, then put them on again a different way and removed them again. Benny thought this was a great new game and we may continue to play it at home over and over again.
Then Julian needed Benny "up" so he could take off the rest of the outfit but Benny was still laying down calm as ever. So Julian gave the little dog the "Up" command and Benny slowly got up so Julian could reach his feet. Poor Benny! He was Up and Down and Up and Down.
Finally Benny was a naked as a dog could be.
The rest of the session was spent with Benny playing with a new toy moving closer and closer to Julian. Then Julian played a game with Benny so close he could touch him.
This may all seem so simple to an outsider but when you are there you understand the enormity of every moment of the hour.
Julian loves Benny and Benny loves Julian. We see how all the therapy dogs love their work and love meeting new people but rarely have I experienced such a personal bond between boy and dog. Benny just knows what to do with Julian and knows how important his work is.
He leaves each week feeling proud and if you wonder "How can a dog feel proud?" spend some time with our therapy dogs and you will see it clearly.
Benny smiles in his sleep on the ride home.
And I bet Julian beams with pride as well.
To learn more about Pet Partners animal therapy program visit www.petpartners.org.
To follow the work of the Love Dog therapy team in Las Vegas, visit www.lovedogadventures.com.