We were both so excited, Ike and I!
Our first event was a Valentine's Day event at a local college.
We had no idea what to expect. I know Ike is a laidback dog and I hoped he'd enjoy the experience.
We braved the 16 degrees below zero temperatures and walked the scenic pathways along the quad to the student union building. There we encountered a long line of students--this was going to be a well-attended event.
Coordinators led us into the room where crafts and refreshments were set up for the students. One other dog, a yellow lab, was there. Later, another dog joined. There were supposed to be 9 dogs at the event, but the rest didn't show up due to the cold. These three would have their paws full!
As soon as the doors opened, college students with broad smiles rushed over to greet Ike. They sat cross-legged on the cold floor and reached out to touch him.
Ike's tail wagged and before long, he flopped over for belly rubs.
I think he was emailed to many moms at home and posted on many Facebook pages! (#ilikeike)
I asked the students if they had pets at home. They all chorused "yes" and then the stories began. I heard about the dogs, cats, and rabbits they'd left behind and missed. They showed me a pictures of their pets. One boy said that his dog would be ten years old in two days. It was sweet how, despite his busy schedule and studies and college stresses, he remembered his dog's birthday. Another boy told me that he loved dogs but his mother wouldn't let him have one, and so he kept rabbits. He also asked a lot of questions about therapy dog work and said he'd like to do it one day. I told him that rabbits could also be therapy pets.
The questions the students wanted to know most was how to train therapy dogs and if it was hard.
I told them about the classes and test we took, and told them no, it wasn't difficult, it was mostly about the dog's temperament and how well the dog and handler work together.
I was impressed with the students. They were calm, friendly, respectful and intelligent.
By the time the evening ended, Ike and I were tired. We were given a lovely arrangement of roses and thanked for our visit.
I was left feeling very grateful that we'd become a therapy dog team.