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Dog Blog

Molly the dog with partner Terry
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Well, we said that "anyone at Ontario Shores who has a story to tell" can author a guest blog, but a dog? Why not? Enjoy the first ever blog written by a dog.

Hello Ontario Shores.

No doubt you have seen my partner and me from time to time visiting the units here.

My name is Molly. I am a Dalmatian therapy dog. While my peers are busy posing for pictures with firefighters, I've chosen to dedicate my days to simply letting people pet me and sometimes let me lick their face.

It all started years ago in a Whitby firehall where my partner, Terry Von Zuben was a fire inspector. You see, he lives on the autism spectrum and had a tough time talking with people. That's where I came in. At the time, I thought all I could do was be "a good dog". Turns out I have some abilities I never knew I had. For instance, I can tell when Terry was having an onset of anxiety before he even knew it himself. A little nudge from me was all that was needed to calm things down.

So, Terry and I took our calming partnership on the road. Terry explains it like this. "I can go to an event and maybe meet 30 people. With Molly (me) along, I end up meeting 300 people."

I read on woof-apedia that when a human being pets a dog something happens to their mood.  The stress hormone cortisol is lowered while levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin increase. Sometimes people who won't even talk to their therapist will whisper their feelings into my ear. I also know many patients here who have had to give up their own pets and are very lonely.

Turns out, I know a thing or two about mental health. For instance; I am present. I live in the moment. I know I am in the room but I don't know that I know I am in the room. I learn from the past but I don't let it worry me. I also don't worry about the future, especially when you scratch that spot right behind my ear. I see you humans pass each other in the hallway and sometimes don't even acknowledge the other person. Dogs, on the other hand, love meeting others and don't even mind, um, sniffing each other's butts. Now that is breaking down barriers.

Thanks for all the petting and the occasional "who's a good dog?" Next time you see Terry and me, paws and say hi...no appointment necessary.

Molly and Terry are part of the Pet Therapy Program provided by Volunteer Services.

~ Molly

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