Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Farm Living Is The Life For Me

Green Acres is fairly rife with “therapy animals”. Originally, years ago, there was just one authorized non-human “therapist”, a clueless but loveable elderly black lab. He left when his master was fired from the hospital. About the same time one of my shrink colleagues had a new puppy, which couldn’t stay home alone all day. So she brought the puppy to work, forging a phony “therapy dog certificate” so that Green Acres administrators wouldn’t give her trouble. She was ultimately fired too, quite spuriously, for reasons having nothing to do with the dog (which, so far as I could tell, had no therapeutic skills.)

A year or two back, there began a proliferation of “therapy” creatures, such that we sometimes had more than one at a time in-house. During a particularly active “therapy” session, involving two dogs and a half-dozen patients, on mutt collided with another head-on at high speed, causing the first to be knocked unconscious, bleed from his head, and have a dramatic grand mal seizure. The patient had to be whisked away for emergency veterinary care. This whole scene greatly distressed the (human) patients, one of whom came screaming back to the ward, demanding that the offending dog be killed, then stating that she herself was suicidal. It took all afternoon to calm her.

Subsequently, someone brought “therapy” miniature goats into the building. I am not making this up. A nurse came to me and said “You should go over to the gym and see the goats!” It was like some sort of Greek nightmare.

Today, I found myself roaming the hospital with a patient’s family in tow, trying to find a private place to have a brief meeting (this can be a very challenging quest at Green Acres.) The patient related to this family nearly died of a severe drug reaction, and remains in a precarious state—so I have been working hard to let the family know that we are professional, trustworthy, competent people. During our expedition through the facility, we abruptly entered a corridor of staff offices. There was no hiding the fact that the corridor was littered with dog kibbles, that a recreation staff person was standing in the middle of the buffet, and that a small, hyperactive dog was running about gobbling up the food.

It was one of those many moments when I almost, almost quit.


Blogger GirlTuesday said...

i think NLF would benefit greatly by the presence of a small animal, such as a puppy. a little black lab puppy. he could live in my room. and i would take care of him and feed him and take him for walks and clean up after him.

pluheeez, can i bring a puppy to work???

(i'm thinking the answer will be no.)

3/22/07, 12:47 PM  
Blogger jcat said...

I get to go one better...therapy birds!!

I work as a wildlife rehabber, and still do a part-time IT job. Not often in the office though, but when I have baby birds that need hand-feeding every 30 mins or so, I pretty much don't leave home without them. Last time I went in for a meeting, it was with about 6 of them in a basket. Very senior manager was late for the meeting, so didn't get to see them being put on the floor next to me. Halfway through they started yelling for food. Explaining to him that yes, they were real birds, not a cellphone ringtone, and yes, they were in the boardroom with us....

My mother's never forgiven me for the 13 that came along to a family wedding, so I haven't ever told her about the 4 that went to a funeral!

3/23/07, 3:01 PM  

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