Everything that happens along this quest matters.
Have you ever experienced a situation when a special gift you kept giving, without considering getting anything in return, resulted in a blessing you completely did not expect? This unexpected moment happened to me last week.
Because dog therapy is voluntary work, everything I do is based on giving and not expecting anything in return. However; some unexpected moments often happen. I think giving is so powerful that it often results in an unexpected snowball affect. In this blog, I have already written about such unexpected results, such as being invited to speak to high school students about therapy and my passion for writing about it. However, last week, another unexpected result occurred.
Last week I participated in my department meeting, and it was the first face-to-face meeting we held since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. During the pandemic all the meetings were online. I have to say the face-to-face meeting felt really good. It’s a different connection between colleagues when you can see each other face-to-face, or mask to mask. During that meeting everybody welcomed me after my sabbatical and asked if I continued pet therapy during my break. This question alone made me very happy because I felt that I’m not just valued as a colleague who teaches and researches but also as a human being who does something beyond my regular work duties. Therefore, I was very happy to report on getting back to dog therapy. Usually, people who return from sabbaticals talk about their sabbatical research, but in this case, everybody was more interested in my other activities.
After we talked about my therapy visits, my colleagues also mentioned the books I wrote and the Carmel Therapy Dog application. Prompted and encouraged to talk about my self publishing in connection to pet therapy, I also mentioned I have written a couple of children’s books. During the same meeting my colleagues even arranged with the library to purchase my self published books about the therapy. That was an amazing moment because I felt appreciation and warmth from my department.
As we continued the meeting, some other colleagues shared stories about incredible benefits of dog therapy and, what is more, my department chair told me some exciting news. She announced getting a puppy and she wanted to know everything about the process of becoming certified as a therapy dog team. So after the meeting I told her all the information that is needed in order to get on the therapy path. One of the suggestion I had was tp read my first book that details our journey to therapy work, from puppy stages to the final therapy test: From Unruly to Therapy Dog. As I was talking to her about it, I saw incredible excitement in her eyes. What a highlight of the day!
Days like this one make me feel I really do make a difference. Wherever I go, I do my best to leave some kind of mark to help people understand the incredible benefits of dog therapy. This is such a simple gift for us to give to children, yet many children do not get to experience it. But I feel that this type of advocacy is making a slow difference. It’s all about the little things we are doing, gifts we are giving without expecting anything in return — with enthusiasm, commitment, and persistence. I am really happy to see my colleagues understand what I’m doing and truly support me in this mission.
Please check my website for my books and updates! https://barbaravokatis.web.app/