Because he’s a therapy dog. That’s why I’m taking him to Panera Bread, church, work, to woodwork, to college classes, to wherever : because he’s a therapy dog. In my right pocket is my wallet and in my wallet is the legal card which says, “Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Sharing Smiles and Joy TM (registered trade mark) Ford Sight (that’s my name). Member ID: 48204. Expiration Date: 12/31/18. P. O. Box 20227 Cheyenne, Wyoming 82003. Toll Free 1-877-THER-DOG”. I flash them this card like a teenager with a fake I. D. buying beer. The other side of the I. D. says, “Dog Name: Boshintang. Breed: Jack Russell Terrier Mix. DOG ID # 401666”. Then, in large capital letters on the bottom of the card is written: “THIS IS NOT A SERVICE OR ASSISTANCE DOG CERTIFICATION”. So, I flash the front of the card, let the store owner, police officer, my boss, or whoever read it, and put it back in my wallet. They never ask to see the back of the card. Well, almost never, but I’ll get to that.
But the truth is Boshintang barely passed the Alliance of Therapy Dogs canine exam and Boshintang’s the one who needs therapy, not me, not the clients, not the staff, not anyone. Boshintang helps me and the clients, but he’s the one who’s insane. See, after the maids told me about Boshintang’s behavior (peeing in the house, digging up the carpet, whining at the top of his lungs, drinking from the toilet) and I got the carpet redone, I realized I couldn’t leave Boshintang home anymore. So, I had a few options: 1). Hire a dog sitter. That seemed like a bad idea for multiple reasons. Boshintang would grow attached to the dog sitter, wouldn’t love me or my wife and kids anymore, and then why bother having a dog? It would also be really expensive. 2). He could be an assistant dog. The problem with that is neither me, my wife, nor my kids have a disability that warrants an assistant dog. We’re not blind, deaf, epileptic, diabetic, mute, or anything. Thank God. So that’s out. 3). He could be a psychiatric support dog, but no one in this house has psychological problems, except Boshintang, although he is starting to drive us crazy, a psychiatrist wouldn’t sign off on that. We tried. Or 4). He could be a therapy dog, where he helps others at places like schools, churches, nursing homes, hospitals, etc by letting people pet him, cuddle him, and doing dog tricks. But Boshintang was the one who needs therapy.
So, Boshintang is at my place of work, which is an Executive Assistant (a fancy name for a secretary) at an Ophthalmologist’s office: Dr. Katsee and I just got here so Boshintang and I turn on the computer, check today’s schedule, brew coffee, put out more sugars, sweet n’ low, Splenda, blue sugar packets, Lipton tea, and creams in the coffee area, call up the answering service for messages, the usual.
Then I sit down at the desk and Boshintang sits beside me and he’s shivering either because he’s scared, lonely, cold, or GOK (God Only Knows) what’s going on with Boshintang today. I look at the waiting area. There’s fifteen chairs with little desks beside them with magazines, a television in the upper right corner which always has news on, light beige carpet, and a play area with a little slide, a small play house, and books for kids. So, we’re just opening up, I unlock the front door, and then Bob happens.
I welcome Bob to Dr. Katsee’s office, showed him where the coffee is, and give him the forms to fill out for Dr. Katsee. This usually takes patients fifteen minutes. Then, Bob sees Boshintang.
“Aw. What a cute little dog. What’s his name?” Bob asks.
I smile and say, “Boshintang,”
“Aw. Very cute. But, why is Boshintang at a doctor’s office?”
And I say my line: “‘Cause he’s a therapy dog,” and I flash Bob, Boshintang’s card
Well, as it turns out, Bob works for the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). He not only works for them, he’s their President. He shows me his business card. Bob’s card even has the telephone number to call in case Boshintang or another dog bites someone.
Bob tells me there’s no reason Boshintang should be at this office and asks to speak to my supervisor, in private. Now, I don’t know if Boshintang will keep his ATD status, I don’t know if I’ll be fined, maybe I’ll be fired, or imprisoned. What’ll I tell my wife, my kids? I don’t know what’ll happen. So, I introduce Bob to my supervisor and wait. It’s like I’m one of the patients waiting for their diagnosis.
But Bob and my supervisor go in an office in the back and talk for fifteen minutes. Me and Boshintang keep helping customers. One of the customers brings her daughter with her and the daughter goes to the play area and I give her mother the forms. I’m screwed
Then, my supervisor and Bob come out of the office and my supervisor says I’ll have to clock out and take Boshintang home, then come back, clock in and work ‘til we close. At least I’m not fired.
So, Boshintang and I go to the back of the office and clock out. Boshintang’s going to whine at home and dig up my carpet again or I’ll have to put him in a cage. But, Boshintang and I start to walk out and Bob’s still there waiting to see the doctor and then the lady who just filled out the forms’ girl comes up to Boshintang and asks if the girl can pet Boshintang. I say, “As long as your mom says it’s ok,” and her Mom does. Boshintang’s tail wags and the girl is happy. The girl asks if the girl can take Boshintang home and I told her, “No,” nicely. But, I look at Bob and with all the courage I can muster, ask if Boshintang can be here for the client’s kids. Bob thinks and finally says, “Well, Boshintang would be helpful for that”.
So, Boshintang and I got to stay at work. I clocked back in and Boshintang stayed with the girl and other kids ‘til we closed.
Boshintang and I both go to work now, but I stay behind the counter and Boshintang stays in the play area. Bob got his cataracts removed that day and we all lived oddly ever after.