Tags: In This Issue, Local
My Favorite Field Trip
A newspaper notice that a Bernese Mountain Dog named Bentley would be demonstrating his hospital therapy skills at the Carmel Jack & Jill Children's Shoppe caught my attention.
We have a 140-pound Bernese Mountain Dog that is our personal therapy dog and Belle brings us more joy and peace than anyone can imagine. Yes, she can shake hands, sit down and lie down on command but that is the extent of her tricks. She is loyal and always waiting for us by the window to give us a warm welcome when we return home. I will even admit, she sleeps on our bed and keeps our feet good and warm!
This opportunity to meet Bentley called for a Grandmother Field Trip so I called my nine-year-old granddaughter, Lucy Wynne, and she asked if she could bring her best friend, Kyla Smith, and of course that was perfect with me. The two girls are classmates at Fox Hill Elementary School and want to do everything together.
We arrived at the Carmel Jack and Jill clothing store and were greeted by Bentley and his owner/trainer, Janet Myers. Bentley was sitting on the floor Sphinx-style. You could sense that this 110-pound dog was both mild-mannered and compassionate. The girls immediately sat down and started petting Bentley.
Bentley has been trained not to lick or bark but when commanded he does say hello with a very small mini-woof. He also fetches a Kleenex box when someone sneezes. Bentley puts up his paw to cover his face when someone says they're shy. Yes, she knows more tricks of giving love and compassion than you can imagine.
Janet Meyer made our visit to watch Bentley do her tricks quite special. Janet has been a registered nurse for over thirty years and is the Director of Risk and Safety at the hospital where she founded the pet therapy program. Bentley and Janet volunteer their time visiting patients of all ages. Janet has shared her knowledge of the "PAWS-itive" outcomes of pet therapy with audiences across the country and has written two books: Booboos, Band-aids and Bentley, The True Story of a Hospital Therapy Dog and The Visit, Healing Moments in Pet Therapy.
Lucy, Kyla and I read aloud the children's book about Bentley at lunch. The book is perfect for readers nine and under and is a wonderful example of photojournalism with Jamie Marshall providing almost 100 beautiful photographs of Bentley comforting children. We all gave the book a "must-read" rating and feel every library should have this book as part of its collection. Likewise, The Visit tells the story of how Meyer trained Bentley and designed her pet therapy program. Her personal connections with dogs from birth to grave are heart rendering. Janet Meyer is available to speak to groups and can be reached through her website: www.bentleythetherapydog.com
Lastly, we had to look at the beautiful dresses in the shop. One rack said "buy one and get one free" so Lucy and Kyla tried on dresses and of course chose the same dress! They also bought a copy of the book and a little stuffed Bentley dog complete with the therapy dog bandana Bentley wears. Yes, we had a five-star field trip.
Barbara Wynne is the founding publisher of Indy's Child Magazine.