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Old 09-10-2009, 01:25 PM   #1
elsasmom
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Elsa June retiring from therapy work?

Many of you know that Elsa is certified with TDI and has been going to a nursing home nearly every Friday for over 4 years. She seems to be losing interest in the residents. We've skipped a couple of weeks and tried again, but she doesn't make eye contact and wants to be on my lap focused on me.

She had gotten very attached to a few of the men and she's been different since they died. When we visit someone new in her old friend's room, she sniffs all over for them and refuses to interact with anyone new.

She used to run into the door and enjoy the attention. She'd stare into a person's face and hang on their every word and give kisses. She was awesome. But now, she's being aloof and anxious to leave.

I think she's burned out. There was one incident where a resident near death gave her a pat and turned to the wall. Elsa then stood up and sat facing away from him. They had said their goodbyes.

I'm thinking that she has given 4 years of her life to therapy work (certified at one year old) and I need to be thankful for her contribution and retire her. She's still very friendly with friends and people we meet on the street but reluctant in a nursing home environment. Perhaps she's given as much of herself as I should expect.

It might be time for me to use our Friday mornings to hike in the woods and do what SHE wants to do on my days off. Any opinions from my friends on the forum?
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:33 PM   #2
BetterDog4U
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I think youre right. She may be burned out. Giving four years of her life to therapy work can take alot out of dog. And the fact that she has lost several friends would have something to do with it to.

I like the idea of going for a hike on your days off. Letting Elsa do the things that make her happy will have the same effect on her as a human going on a well deserved vacation. After some time off, she may be able to resume her work, but ultimately you will be the only one that can judge that!

If you deside to try again, you may want to try visiting a different facility so she doesnt associate the experence with the old place.

All the Best Elsa, enjoy your retirement!
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the support on this decision, Michael; it's been a hard one for me to think about. I've been laboring over this for a couple of months. I've been feeling guilty and selfish for considering it. I know how much happiness Elsa has brought to people, but my dog has to be my first concern and I think she's been trying to tell me she's not enjoying this anymore for quite a while. I appreciate the feedback. Thanks again
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:30 PM   #4
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Poor baby. I would never have thought they'd get burned out like that but it's sure something to consider. There are other ways she/you can help though like the programs where dogs read with children. After a vaca of course!
Sharon - Mom to Mozart, Monte, Merlin and Mylee! my boyz!
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Old 09-11-2009, 12:24 AM   #5
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Oh poor Elsa! It does sound as if she needs a bit of a break from her routine, and as if she's missing her friends who have passed away. A hike in the woods sounds like just the thing to boost her spirits. I guess a lot of us have been in a similar situation personally - unhappy or bored with the same old job - a bit of time out will work wonders for her, and maybe a change of venue, or a different job could work too. If she needs to retire though, so be it, she's done a marvellous job for so long. Good for you Elsa!
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Old 09-11-2009, 01:13 AM   #6
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Maybe she does just need a break after all we do. She has done a wonderful job and if she does retire you can take pride in all of her good work. Hugs Susan & Lexcee
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Old 09-11-2009, 01:19 AM   #7
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I agree, I would give her a good long break and then try again in a few months or so.... can you do that? Maybe she is just too attached to the people she lost and you could try a different nursing home/hospital so there are no left over memories or sents. Poor girl... she has lost too many friends. Thats sad, never thought of that being a problem for dogs. Give her hugs from me.
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:32 AM   #8
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Dogs CAN get depressed! I remember reading about the SAR dogs that searched for days after 9/11 and that they (owners) tried to set up finds that were alive to help the dogs spirits, after so many finds that were not.

You might try giving her a break and then try a different venue, like a children's hospital or even a children's day care. Visits don't always have to be to the elderly or even the sick. My first therapy dog was Abby, and I used to notice her doing that, going to a room where someone she knew well once lived, and totally ignoring the new person that had moved in. I found that if we ended the day on a happy note, a 15 minute stop at the day care across the street, she did much better. Just call and explain ahead of time and even the children can understand that the dog needs some cheering up and will make that effort.

I took Rom to Riley Childrens Hospital once, to the cancer unit, an hour and 45 minute drive each way, and he was fabulous with the kids. I thought he loved it. Two months later I drove back there with him again, and it was very clear that he didn't want to go back in. I didn't make him, even though they were expecting us. I just rescheduled for a different day and took DeeOhGee instead.

Maybe Elsa has just given all she has to give at this point, but you might try a different place at some point in the future. Maybe she just got burned out at that particular job, like we humans are prone to do.

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Old 09-14-2009, 02:25 PM   #9
elsasmom
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Thanks to all of you for your comment and suggestions. I officially took Elsa's name off the calendar at the nursing home on Friday. Tough decision but she deserves to be happy too.
There's a daycare that we go to occasionally. The teachers love to see her come and are very good about showing the kids how to interact kindly with dogs. Maybe we'll go there again after she has had some time off to rest and rehab.
I'm glad I have you guys to share a difficult decision with.
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Old 09-14-2009, 04:18 PM   #10
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I think you are doing the best for Elsa, mentally. 4 years is a long time in doggy years! I am sure if you give her a break she would go back to doing it and enjoying it sometime in the future!

=many huggles to Elsaaaaaaaaa=
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