Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scouts gets a therapy dog gig, and it's definitely a God-assignment

As you know, Scout passed his Therapy Dog test in August, and is now a certified therapy dog. The question now has been, Where do we volunteer?

All along, I've really only had two places on my heart that I wanted to approach: The East Rochester Elementary School and the Veterans' Outreach Center.

I didn't know if either had a need for a therapy dog, or what we could even offer. Which is why I kept putting off contacting them.

Then last week I finally had time to sit down and go through all of the information from Therapy Dog International. Included in the packet was a sheet listing the places in our zip code looking for therapy dogs.

Understand that I can go anywhere; I don't need to stay in my zip code. But they provide that as a helpful place to start.

On the sheet was only one place looking for dogs: East Rochester Elementary School.

Of course, I contacted them.

I got a call back this week from Pam, who coordinates the program, which pairs a student up with a dog for the school year for a half hour of reading once a week.

It works kind of like this: the handler and therapy dog go to the child's classroom and get him, take him to the library where there is a special corner set up for the therapy dog reading program, and the child reads - or whispers - to the dog.

It's the perfect scenerio for Scout, who doesn't do well with changes all the time. This way, he can bond with one student over months.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Pam for her last name for my own notes, and it turns out, she and her family were our neighbors 17 years ago when we lived in our apartment. Not only do I already know her, she's a Christian - so she understood exactly what I meant when I said this was a God assignment.

I don't believe in coincidence. I think God orchestrates everything, and sometimes we get to see it happening, which is when he's very nicely saying, "I really don't want you to miss this, stupid."

First, the fact that the elementary school was only one of two places on my heart, and the only one on the list, was a sign to me that there's something for me - or Scout, probably - that God wants us to do there.

Second, the fact that the school is just blocks away is perfect, because Scout hates to ride in the car. We'll be able to get to our weekly assignment with little travel stress.

Third, the fact that the program pairs a student with a dog for the whole year is exactly the match up that Scout needs. And it'll give the student a chance to really connect with the dog.

Lastly, I've been wanting to volunteer at the school but just didn't know what I had to offer. I'm thrilled to be able to make a difference for a child right in our village, and to be able to do it with Scout.

We have a meeting on Friday with the school psychologist and the social worker so they can meet me and Scout and match us up with the right student.

Who would have thought two years ago that this quirky, anxiety ridden dog would now be reaching out to a child to help them through a difficult time? Just proof that God really does have a plan for all of us, no matter how inept we might think we are. We're just perfect for the job God gives us.

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