Over 1000 Therapy Dog Visits and Counting
One of the absolute best things to come out of my journey with Three Wags is the dogs and humans I’ve come to know. These connections and stories truly enrich my life and inspire me.
We are talking about dogs and humans who in their everyday lives are just kicking a** doing what they do and being who they are. THIS is the best kind of awesome!
I first met Lynn and Trigger through social media. We all know the countless Facebook pages that bring together dog lovers, right? In this case, it was Brittany lovers and Brittany rescue alum. Trigger and our Tibby and Rayna were adopted through the same Brittany rescue.
Lynn and I discussed Three Wags’ awareness bandanas. I wanted to know anything important I should in creating a therapy dog bandana. Our therapy dog bandana is named for Trigger, and I’m honored to have made many bandanas for him.
LOVE, AFFECTION & DEDICATION. These words come to mind when I think about Lynn and Trigger's volunteer work. Over 1000 visits in eight years:
- Over 125 visits every year;
- 10 or more visits each month;
- and at least two (2) visits every week.
The number of individual lives touched during these visits is pretty incredible.
ABOUT TRIGGER. Trigger came to the Ealey family with his name. They kept it because his eyes would light up when they said it. On their visits, people often ask if he's named for Roy Roger’s famous horse that starred alongside Rogers in tv and film. Alas, we don't know, but the story lives on in a special way as you'll later learn.
Trigger has his own Facebook page, Trigger's Tails. Trigger’s Tails is where Lynn recounts (mostly in Trigger’s own words, of course) their therapy dog journey.
This rockstar dog earned his AKC Distinguished Therapy Dog Title in 2018. To put things in perspective, it “only” takes 400 visits to earn this title, the AKC’s highest recognition.
These are a few of his favorite things:
- Treat – baby carrots
- Game – Bird & squirrel watchingHoliday – Christmas! Visits Santa each year
- Unusual “job” – Kissing Booth Duty
- After Visit Treat – Starbuck’s Puppacino
- Words – Good Boy
- Stores – Tractor Supply and Cabela’s
- Tricks – Sitting Pretty, Praying, Taking a Nap and crawling. He holds an AKC Novice Trick Dog Title
IT ALL BEGAN in 2012. Lynn did what many of us do when you get a puppy or adopt a dog. She took him to training. The instructor asked if she’d like Trigger to be a therapy dog. Her reply? “What does a therapy dog do?”
Lynn and Trigger jumped in with both feet and all paws. Trigger showed being a therapy dog was definitely something he was meant to do. Within a year, Trigger became a certified and registered therapy dog with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Lynn is now an observer/tester for the next generation of teams.
THE PLACES THEY GO. Almost anywhere invited. They visit nursing homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities, hospitals, churches and the Ronald McDonald House. Trigger loves visiting with kids. They frequent schools, libraries and even helped a local Girl Scout Troop’s members earn their Animal Helper badges. They are usually joined on visits by other Alliance therapy dog teams.
Trigger’s always dressed for the occasion. He has “every day” therapy dog bandanas and those for special occasions and holidays. He’s always in red, white and blue for any visits with veterans.
When Lynn and I first discussed bandanas, the reversibility of ours was a huge selling point. Once dogs are “off duty” and not volunteering, they are not supposed to wear gear that says “therapy dog” on it. Lynn loved that she simply had to unclip it and flip it over for the other design.
WHAT LYNN LOVES MOST. “The joy people have when they see the dogs – whether staff, visitors, residents, patients or students,” she said. “I also love seeing someone who says they are afraid of dogs or doesn’t want to pet them, and winds up doing it anyway."
WHAT TRIGGER LOVES MOST. Trigger has a love of people, and a particular affection for children. He’s always loved kids, and he's one happy dog when a child is reading to him.
FAVORITE MEMORIES. Whether reading Trigger’s Tails or talking with Lynn, there’s no doubt Lynn could spend days recounting the special people they’ve met and the immeasurable ways their teamwork enriches her life. Seemingly small things that aren’t so small – when they visit someone for the first time, then for each weekly visit after that, that person is waiting in the hallway outside his or her room making sure not to miss Trigger’s day.
One story she shared was of a veteran at a local VA facility. He was sitting in the Day Room with his right side against a wall and his left arm held in close to his body. When she asked if he’d like to pet Trigger, he didn’t acknowledge. He kept looking straight ahead, not at them. Then he quietly dropped his left arm and touched Trigger. A nurse asked Lynn if she could leave Trigger with them. Why? Apparently, the veteran insisted to medical staff that he couldn’t move his arm. A quiet visit from Trigger opened a new door.
As much as the stories differ, they are the same. Different people, distinct circumstances, but always a similar result. All are left better off than before their visits.
THIS TAIL IS ENDING, BUT NOT THEIRS At 11 years old, Trigger is “slowing down.” It’s all relative though. He still does at least a visit a week now that Covid restrictions are relaxing. This team takes to hear the Alliance's motto to “spread smiles and joy”.
Lynn and Trigger are excited to be back doing visits as places allow, and they eagerly await a few of their favorites finally reopening.
AND THE FAMILY TRADITION CONTINUES. The Ealeys added a Brittany puppy to their family in 2019. Now - we don't know if Trigger was named for Roy Rogers' horse, but this new family addition is named for Rogers' dog.
On visits, people would ask if Lynn knew about Roy Rogers' had a German Shepherd named Bullet. So this inspired the Ealeys to name the pup, Bullet.
Bullet, now two years old, recently became a certified therapy dog! Lynn have just begun their adventures. So Lynn is going strong with Trigger AND introducing Bullet to the family "business". We will catch up with them again!