I just completed my training at Torrance Memorial Medical Center (TMMC) for the volunteer dog program. Tawny (that’s her on the left) and I will now visit patients, and family members who are visiting, trying to ease the situation of being at the hospital. I’ve wanted to volunteer at TMMC with Tawny since she was released from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that trains assistance dogs for disabled individuals in wheelchairs. Tawny was three weeks shy of completing her six-month professional training, when she suddenly decided she wanted to return to her original pack—our family— and made her wishes known to the trainer. The trainers at CCI do an incredible job of reading the dogs, and when one shows any signs of not wanting to continue, they will release the dog from the program. Since I was Tawny’s volunteer trainer, which started when she was seven weeks old and continued for eighteen months, I had first rights if she was not assigned to a recipient. When I received the call, telling me that Tawny appeared to be homesick and that I could come and get her if I wanted to, I never drove so fast to CCI in my life.
I honestly believe she will do great at the hospital. I had her certified as a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International, and she has an absolutely wonderful personality. People love to pet her and often mention how beautiful she is. Of course, I always agree. She truly enjoys being around people, which will fit in perfectly at the hospital. She will wear a blue bandana around her neck, and also wear a name badge, just like I do. I honestly believe we will do TMMC proud, while warming the hearts of patients who need the loving touch of a dog.
If you happened to read my posting last week, which is just below, she is lying at the foot of the table as I signed books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She certainly helped in drawing the crowd. So stay tuned; I’ll be giving future updates on Tawny, and her adventures at TMMC.