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AN AMAZING DOG
‘He’s such a good dog, so calm and relaxed.’ This is what everyone says about my four-year-old black Labrador, Ozzi. He has been that way since he was a puppy. He doesn’t like to run or jump and he hates to swim, but he comes when I call him. When I walk in the door, he greets me, so excited to see me.
‘He would be the perfect therapy dog,’ my grandmother said, but I wasn’t sure if I should really get Ozzi (and myself) involved because I didn’t understand how my lazy dog could help people. However, I decided to try. I contacted a local organization called Faithful Friends. Ozzi had to go through a training programme and some tests to make sure he was a good choice.
Ozzi passed the tests (I don’t know how), and we were asked to visit rehabilitation homes every other Tuesday. It was difficult for me to imagine exactly what Ozzi and I would do there and how that would help anyone. Our first visit was to a rehabilitation home where people live when they are recovering from serious operations. Five minutes after our arrival, we noticed a man who looked very sad and lonely. It was heartbreaking. However, as soon as he saw Ozzi, he sat up in his wheelchair, smiled, and called us over. His name was John, and he had had an accident months before. He was still not able to go back home to his black Labrador. He missed his dog, so just being near a dog so much like his own really made him happy. He showed me a picture of Maggie, who really looked like Ozzi. John looked forward to our visits, and we continued to see him until he was well enough to return home to live with his dog.
Another patient was Elli, who loved to play with Ozzi. She liked to talk about how she used to have a little poodle that was like a baby to her, and I think being around Ozzi brought back those good memories.
Meeting these people and many others opened my eyes to the benefits of using dogs for therapy. I have realized that the best thing Ozzi has ever done is to be a good friend to those who need one.