Otis, our six-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, made his first visit as a certified therapy dog on Christmas Eve morning. We went to Marion Manor, a nursing home and rehabilitation center here in South Boston. Otis, decked out in his official therapy dog vest and colorful velour scarf, ran up the front steps at Marion Manor like he lived there, eager to report to his first day at work.
Inside, we met Christine, who works in the activities department, and she escorted us around the facility for about an hour. Up and down the hallways, Otis made his presence known, often being the first one to poke his head around the corner of someone’s room. He tugged us into the middle of a physical therapy session, where about 10 residents in wheelchairs were doing exercises, and the class came to a screeching halt while Otis made the rounds. Christine knows every resident, and brought us to visit several dog-lovers who she knew would appreciate a visit from Otis. Most everyone seemed thrilled to see our pooch (“You’ve really made my day,” said one lady) while some were more content to just see him from a distance (“Do you want to pet the dog?” Christine would ask. “No,” several residents replied with a smile.)
We visited one floor that houses just men, where Otis got a little startled when one resident’s hand dropped on his head unexpectedly. Then it was off to the women’s floor, where Otis was in his glory. He’s always been somewhat of a lady’s man, enjoying the cooing and all of the fuss made over him. One lady named Rose seemed more interested in getting to know Peter and me (“I’m not so interested in the dog,” she said, “but you’re handsome!”)
As we left the women’s floor, we could tell Otis was spent. It must be a lot of work wagging your tail and letting people pet you for an hour! All in all, it was a great visit and we’ll make another visit to Marion Manor in the new year.