The Tootie Tidings

  • Where and when do you visit the patients? Tootie’s Rounds take place on Friday afternoons in the entire building. I am very careful not to disturb any patients that are tired and sleeping.
  • What was one of your best visits today? Today I saw a woman in the corner by herself, looking sad. I pranced for her and tilted my ears trying to get her attention but she was just staring at the floor. I walked forward and placed myself right where she was looking and wagged my tail. The woman’s face lit up in the biggest smile I have ever seen on a human! She must think I’m really cute!! I stood very still as she ran her hands through my thick coat and she told me the story of her first puppy. Her eyes got all watery as she told me her stories. I wanted to kiss her but my mom said no. So I politely listened and gave her a nice tail wag as we left. I think we made her day just a little bit easier.
  • What do you like most about your visits with the patients at North Star Lodge? Today my visit was fun because there were some ducks outside I kept trying to get a peek through the windows. It was hard to stop staring but I had to perform my therapy duties in the hopes that my mom would take me outside later to meet the ducks.

2 thoughts on “The Tootie Tidings

  1. Therapy dogs are such a great addition to our community. They can bring a moment of joy, and simple love in a person who is going through difficult life challenges. I know the dog and handler must go through hours of training with a reputable Therapy Dog Group. Can you share which group you and Tootie are affiliated with, and share your training experience? I think it is important people know how special these dogs really are, and the time it takes for an owner to get certified. Blessings to you and Tootie for doing such a wonderful service.

    1. Michelle Hacker and her Shiba Inu, Tootie, completed testing last year and were registered by Therapy Dogs, Inc as a Therapy Team. Tootie has an extensive history as a show dog, where she was taught to stand very still and not move during a judges examination “stack”. This has proven invaluable in her therapy work when tired, frail, unsteady and sometimes heavy hands are trying to pet her. Since she has been to so many shows, she was exposed to loud noises, distractions and thousands of people. The ability of the dog to NOT react to distractions is imperative. They cannot “jump” if an IV alarm goes off while a patient is petting them. Nothing bothers Tootie, maybe the smell of a good steak, but that’s about the only thing that would make her budge! There is no substitute for training and acclimatizing your dog to noise. It takes many years and a strong bond of trust with the handler.

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