In my latest book, The power of dog therapy, I describe the essence of the incredible aspect of volunteering as a therapy dog team.
What do you think motivates people who have full-time jobs and families to take care of to still volunteer?
In the field of volunteering with therapy dogs, many volunteering teams consist of dogs and people who are already retired and therefore have more time to pursue frequent therapy visits. But not all teams are like that. Some people volunteer even when they have full-time jobs and families to take care of. I have a full-time job and a teenage daughter to whom I need to devote substantial amount of time. So why do I still find the time to volunteer?
One very motivational aspect is that I have an incredible dog and feel the need to share her wonderful, friendly personality with others. When I share her wonderful demeanor with others and see what impact interacting with my dog has on them, that’s very motivating. Seeing that the time devoted to someone makes a big difference is extremely motivational. Still, there’s also another aspect and maybe this one will surprise you. Just like this experience gives a lot to others, it actually also gives a lot to me. When we give something precious to others such as our own time, we actually receive something that is incredibly precious back: the feeling of making a difference in someone’s day and how it went. This feeling makes your day worth living and gives you strength and motivation to do your own work and connect better to your family and friends. This feeling can also give you a sense of control. Our lives and what happens in them can be unpredictable but you have the power to decide about impacting someone’s life in the most positive ways.
Yesterday my dog and I went for the first therapy visit in the 2021/22 school year. When I messaged the teachers telling them that the principal agreed to the visit, I could just sense excitement in their messages back to me. In the Covid times, we have to get such a permission on a weekly basis.
The day of the visit was a little bit rainy but the school provided a tent outside. The first group was a group of fifth graders who were very excited when they saw Carmel. Then, second graders came in and pre-kindergartens followed. Each time, multiple hands were touching Carmel and petting her. Some even gave my dog quick hugs to just feel the warmth of her body. Seeing children’s and teachers’ faces full of joy and calmness is the best thing I can see. It makes their day better and therefore it makes my day better as well.
If you could volunteer, what would you like to do?