Saturday, May 14, 2016

Project Pup

Today I brought my dog in to have him screened to become a certified therapy dog for a local nonprofit called Project Pup. Members of this group bring well-mannered pets to visit with the sick and elderly at nursing homes and hospitals. I've really been looking forward to counting myself and my dog, Joey, among their members.

Look at me - all kinds of volunteering for things lately.

Ben, Joey, and I left bright and early for his appointment at a nursing home... a good thing too, as we missed our exit on the way there. Normally, it's not a big deal to miss an exit, but when you miss the last one in St. Petersburg, Florida, you're stuck going on a really long bridge to Tampa.

Map to Volunteer Test with Project Pup

So we went from being 15 minutes early to being 5 minutes late really quickly. My anxious self was certain the Project Pup volunteers weren't going to let us in.

But they were, of course, very nice and understanding. The volunteers reviewed his paperwork and then gave us instructions for the screening.

Joey's first test was to meet and greet one of the volunteers, who was sitting in a wheelchair. I lead him up to her and asked if she would like to pet the dog. She nodded, and I picked Joey up to her level (Joey's a little bit too small for someone in a wheelchair to reach him).

Next, Joey had to greet a volunteer using a walker. Same drill... ask the guy if he wants to pet the dog, pick up him so he can say hello, and move on our way. Only this time, the volunteer knocked the walker onto the ground with a loud crash to see if he could rattle Joey.

My dog didn't even flinch. So proud.

And then the real test began... meeting actual residents of the nursing home.

He was a huge hit.

EVERYONE wanted to meet Joey, even the nurses. We met one nice elderly lady who was confined to her bed and asked if Joey could sit on the bed with her. I asked the screener if that was acceptable, and she shared that if the residents ask for it, it is definitely ok. So I picked Joey up and placed him on the bed, and he wasted no time laying down right next to her for some snuggles.  The resident was all smiles, and her daughter took a few photos of her mom with my pup.

Needless to say, he passed his test with flying colors. I never had a doubt.

And for one hour today, I had my mind on something other than my own depressive thoughts. My dog not only helped other people smile today, he reminded me there are still things to look forward to in life.

I can't wait for our first volunteer gig together. He's going to make so many people happy.

Anyway, I couldn't take photos of him at the nursing home, so here's a few of his graduation party:

Joey is now a Project Pup volunteer.
Celebrating at Dog Bar St. Pete

Making Project Pup volunteer dog friends
Bart the French Bulldog. My second favorite patron after Joey.

Making Project Pup volunteer dog friends
Joey fell in love with Bertha the Japanese Chin.

Making Project Pup volunteer dog friends
Bart. I just can't take how cute he is.

My dog is a Project Pup volunteer
Better slow down on that wine, Joe.

My dog is a Project Pup volunteer but he drank too much wine.
I told you so.


  1. Congratulations! That's a lot of hard work. I tried to get one of my pups therapy certified once--he just didn't quite have the temperament.

  2. So wonderful, what a great cause. Is Joey part Cavalier? I have a Cavalier King Charles and he looks like him. Such sweet dogs... maybe I should look into this!

  3. Thanks, we are very proud of him. He is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, he's just sporting his summertime hair cut now.