Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dinka's Extra Job

Once each week I take DInka's harness off in the Eden Home for the Aged in Nahariya and put a colorful kerchief around her neck. This is our time as volunteers in the Dog Petting Program for elderly people. We spend about 40 minutes at the home with a circle of dog lovers. At the beginning of each session I give each person a small dog treat to give DInka. (no other cake or cookies are allowed because they are bad for DInka!) This is the only time I allow anyone to feed DInka. It's against the rules, but the importance of creating interaction overcame my wish to adhere completely to the rules. After DInka is greeted by each person, she makes her way around the circle, getting petted, called, and often shares a toy. Occasionally I've told stories of DInka's and my life together, shown people how I use a mobile phone, talking watch or other aids for the blind, or played music. Research has shown that petting a dog increases the body's production of endorphins, which relieve pain, lower blood pressure, and have a lot of other healthy effects. In addition, it's a lovely diversion for elderly people - some of whom owned dogs in earlier years and now long for canine companionship. The volunteer work is sponsored by the JOINT and there are other volunteers with pet dogs doing the same throughougt the country.

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