Nugget is embarking (ha) on a therapy dog trial run this evening. B's sister works at a nursing home in Chapel Hill that has graciously agreed to allow him to visit and interact with their residents without the formal therapy dog registration. I've been mulling it over for awhile about taking him through the requisite tests and observations, but I wasn't quite sure he was ready for it. Today's experience will give us a better idea of exactly where he is in terms of being ready. B is going as his handler, which is probably for the best since Nugget has taken a sudden disinterest in listening to me! I'm sure he's pissed about any number of things, including getting his ears cleaned, 2 trips to the vet in one week, the fact that no doodle on the bed also means no Nugget on the bed... the list could go on. I do want to clear up any misconceptions and state that I'm less than 50% to blame in all of that combined! I'm clearly NOT the one he should be mad at.
Though I've wanted Nugget to be a therapy dog since I got him at 12 weeks, I wasn't sure it was for us given his predictably boisterous behavior amongst strangers. Over the holidays, I was talking with a fellow member of the Golden Retriever Rescue Club of Charlotte (GRRCC) who had recently registered her 2 year old female golden. The process she explained seemed fairly straightforward and simple so I decided we'd give it a try in the new year. I'd collected the necessary information, though I hadn't reached out to Therapy Dogs Inc. The opportunity with the nursing home in Chapel Hill just presented itself yesterday, so that seemed like a logical first step before I waste anyone's time with testing and observing him if he's still not ready.
I want this so badly for us. Not only do I feel like Nugget needs an extracurricular activity that is strictly his where he gets to enjoy time outside the house without the doodle, I know he will relish in all the attention and love he'll receive during his therapy trips. I remember how much my grandma loved Nugget. He can definitely be obnoxious, but he has a mysterious way of knowing when he absolutely needs to be calm and gentle. He loved visiting her and he would plop down right alongside her recliner while she stroked his head. Very therapeutic for them both, if you ask me! Nugget's therapy dog adventures would be a small way to honor her memory by allowing others to indulge in his love and affection, just they way my grandma did. Lord knows I will be the proudest momma in the world when he receives his red heart tag that reads: "I'm a Therapy Dog" - whether that's sometime this year or during one of the next. Praying that today goes well! I will post an update and pics tomorrow when he returns :)