Pet Visits with Wesley
Elizabeth Peters, HYS RYT200 Participant, chose to complete her SEVA project by helping out as a Human Animal Bond in Colorado volunteer at the Centre Rehab in Fort Collins, CO. Below are her reflections on the experience:
Reflection on volunteering with HABIC
By Elizabeth Peters RYT200 Participant
For the past eight months Wesley has donned his special red vest as he prepares to visit the residents and staff at Centre Rehab in Fort Collins. Wesley is my 4 year old Labrador. He and I are volunteers with HABIC (Human Animal Bond in Colorado). He has been specially trained as a therapy dog to interact with those who desire his company.
Once a week, Wesley and I spend about an hour walking the halls at the rehab facility, stopping to visit those who request our presence and sometimes even those who Wesley just believes needs his presence. During our visits we have experienced the joy of listening to stories from the residents and staff about their pets, their families and their life experiences. Sometimes these stories involve tears of sadness and sometimes these stories involve tears of happier times. The reason doesn’t matter to Wesley; he calmly allows his clients to pet him, scratch behind his ears, and hug him as they tell their story.
When I began taking classes with HABIC, my main intention was just to train Wesley – as he possessed very few manners. He knew the basics and would do just about anything for a treat, but I really wanted more from our relationship. When Wesley graduated from therapy dog school, we were placed at Centre Rehab. Our visits to the Centre have become something the residents and staff look forward to each week. Some have told us that we are the highlight of their day. I had no idea that while we were placed at Centre Rehab that I, too, would receive something very special return.
It was never my intention to get anything out of this venture but to give by bringing my dog to visit and hopefully brighten the day of those who chose to interact with him. I have been blessed and gifted, however, with the indescribable feeling of pure happiness when we visit. Wesley and I look forward to our visits each week for the special time of giving and receiving it brings.
Yoga means union. This experience is so much more than just a pet visit. It brings people together with a special buddy who is present, without judgement or expectations. Wesley is in the present moment for whatever is needed of his presence. I feel so much gratitude coming from the people we visit and from myself for being allowed to be in that moment.