Rocco’s Special, and That’s a Good Thing

We are going to start giving our faithful PHC blog readers an inside look into the pets of the PHC bloggers, and I thought I would start by introducing my two dogs. I also have two cats, a cockatiel and three chickens (plus fish! A snake, too!) so this blog series may carry on for a long time!

We have two dogs in our household — Rocco and Nyse. Nyse is a 15-year-old pit bull, and not the main subject of this entry. She was somehow named after the New York Stock Exchange in the cloudy and long-forgotten past. She was my wife’s dog long before we were together and every time I ask my wife about the origin of her name, I just hear a series of low bleeps and bloops with the words ‘brother,’ ‘hoodlum’ and ‘New York Stock Exchange’ mixed in, sort of like how the adults used to talk in the Peanuts holiday TV specials.

This regularly made my heart rate double. Oh, old TV, how do I love thee!

Nyse is the smart one of the pair and makes sure that the household is in order and the trains run on time.  Her dreams consist of tax forms, stopwatches and orderly rows of alphabetized files.

Rocco is a 7-year-old Lab/Rott mix with the intellectual capabilities of a brick of Velveeta and a heart of purest gold. He is minus a leg from a disagreement with a Buick (that’s how he came to us – my wife and I are both veterinarians), but gets around well enough to knock everything in the house over at least once daily.

The flowers may have a slight edge, intellectually.

When he dreams, I am sure it is of lame and slow rabbits happily cavorting about in a dog food landscape as unicorns frolic in avalanches of marshmallow fluff and bacon clouds drift slowly by.

We are very similar in that respect.

A couple of years ago, he completed the certification process for Therapy Dogs International, and is now a card-carrying and tag-wearing certified therapy dog. He spreads his particular brand of sloppy, dumb-happy love to sick and infirm two- (or less) legged people.  One of the things we love to do is have kids read to him at a local women’s shelter.

He thought it might be edible at first.

There are lots of kids who freeze up when they have to read something to their peers or an adult – seems they have an episode of the panics, and are afraid of being judged. A dog, particularly one who is as agreeable as Rocco, presents less of a threat, so their nascent reading skills can blossom like one of those deep-fried onion treats  (only slightly less delicious).

Hospitals and retirement homes round out the itinerary of our visits. We really love spreading his gift of (slightly dimwitted) love with those in need. And, I think, Rocco loves it, too!

Who knows — maybe he will learn to read.

If any of you have experiences with therapy dogs, either on the giving end or the receiving end, please feel free to share them here. What has been your experience?

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