For many years Kathy wanted a dog that was suitable to be a therapy dog. Keiko seemed to have the right temperament, so as soon as she was old enough they started obedience training. Keiko then received her Canine Good Citizen award. After that Keiko and Kathy started working toward being a Pet Partner team, and it took about 1-1/2 years to get everything down good enough to pass the evaluation. Since then it’s been smooth sailing! She has been a registered therapy dog for 10 years and has been helping people in multiple different settings.
HELPING THE HANDICAPPED
Keiko has been to a summer camp in the North Carolina Mountains for handicapped children, adults, and their families. She interacted with lots of folks in mechanized wheelchairs. She sat on the lap of a paraplegic who just beamed!
Keiko has been used at a local children’s hospital to help kids who had been mauled by a dog or pack of dogs.The kids chose Keiko from a group of therapy dog photos and she was introduced to them as a very friendly lovable, pet-able dog. They were able to recognize that not all dogs are bad. One little girl said, as she was petting Keiko with her head swathed in bandages, that she wanted to be a veterinarian. It touched my heart to know Keiko had reversed that little girl’s impressions of dogs.
HELPING CANCER PATIENTS
Keiko is a busy working girl! She visits South Carolina Oncology Associates weekly. One of the employees gets down on the floor and gives her a massage every time we visit. At that facility we visit doctors’ waiting rooms, infusion rooms, administrative areas (the staff need therapy too), and the imaging department.
Keiko taught herself to line up next to patient chairs so they can reach down and pet her easily. She also gets weighed at every scale we pass; the only girl I know who likes to get weighed!
HELPING PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS
We visit at Richland Springs, which is a psychiatric unit, where the patients sit in a circle and she ‘works the circle’. She doesn’t want anyone to miss out on giving her attention.
Keiko smiles when her booty is being scratched just right, which makes everyone laugh (good medicine, you know). She also flirts with the male patients and staff.
HELPING AT THE HOSPITAL
We visit Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital, and in the 2 hours we’re there we see staff, families and patients in imaging, the surgical waiting room, sub-acute rehab, pulmonary/cardiac unit, and a unit for long term patients. Several times doctors at Baptist have prescribed Pet Therapy for individual patients and we’ve been happy to fill the script.
Written by Kathy Perrich