Meet Bruno, Therapy Dog

Bruno the Therapy DogI have always believed in the healing power of animals. There is something about communicating with another species that is grounding, healing, and special. I grew up with German Shepherds who were always protective of me. They went right along with all manner of girl-play I foisted on them – playing dress up, carrying dolls on their back, being my foot rest or back rest. And when I went out to play or babysit, they stayed by my side the entire time. For the last 25 or so years, I’ve enjoyed other people’s pets as I’ve felt too busy to give enough time to a pet.

Why a Therapy Dog

But the draw for having a therapy dog has been great. Many studies show that therapy dogs can be of great benefit in mental health, medical, and educational settings. Having animal-assisted interventions can:

  • Decrease pain
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Relieve the sense of isolation
  • Help calm someone in crisis
  • Help someone open up
  • Improve motivation
  • Provide a non-judgemental companion to listen.

More About Bruno

And along came Bruno. I was telling a friend that I had talked with a foster home about an older German Shepherd who was not going to work out as a therpay dog. She suggested I talk with her nieces who had just found a stray Pit Bull that they were fostering and seeking placement. Here was this beautiful, large dog, thin, very quiet and meek. We don’t know anything about his first year of life but when he reached me, he was still recovering from a bad respiratory infection and starvation. I marveled at how quiet he was, that is, until I signed the adoption papers and he recovered his full strength. Then I saw how much puppy still was in him! The girls named him Bruno but I think another good name would be Tigger because he is funny, bouncy, clumsy, and well-intentioned. Raising him and working with trainers has been fun, a challenge, and provides the challenges and joys of any good relationship.

  • He is eager to please and will obey but he does talk back and huff so you know he’s doing something he really doesn’t want to.
  • When I get on the phone, he wants my attention.We negotiate and communicate. He says so much with his eyes – if he’s sad, mad, worried, or happy, it’s right there.

Bruno and Me

I am reminded of good parenting techniques that I think I am better at now than when I was raising children 40+ years ago:

  • Learning to say no and sticking to it
  • Paying attention to his needs and addressing them in a healthy way for both of us
  • Communicating, communicating, communicating
  • Rewarding good behavior is so much more effective (and fun) than punishing bad behavior
  • Having fun – finding games that are enjoyable and safe for both of us (I’ll post about my concussion another day.)
  • Learning about each other, managing expectations, and developing trust in each other.

You may see Bruno around the office once in a while. He is not certified as a therapy dog yet, but we are very close to the first step – passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. Please know, Bruno is always happy to receive pets, but please ask permission first. Bruno is always ready to put his head in your lap, sit by your side, and let you experience a moment of unconditional love and acceptance.