My dog, JoJo, accompanied me on Day Three of my Volunteer Odyssey adventure.
He’s an 8-year-old Pug who is basically my child. He thinks he’s human and never meets a stranger, but couldn’t care less about other dogs. The vet has told us he needs to lose a few pounds and get more exercise. I think his friendly but lazy attitude made him a pretty good fit for today’s visits.
Our first stop was at Alzheimer’s Day Services of Memphis. This time I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, though I was surprised to learn ADS is celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year.
They’ve been around since 1983. They offer assistance to family members struggling to provide around-the-clock care by giving those with the disease a safe and stimulating place to spend the day. I suppose the number of aging baby boomers has brought more attention to Alzheimer’s and dementia in general.
JoJo was a hit with the office staff and had to meet everyone. Jon, the Development Director, showed JoJo and I around and introduced us to lots of new friends. That’s what ADS prefers to call those in their Day Program. There were tons of activities with most everyone divided into small groups. The dog lovers stood out immediately.
JoJo got along particularly well with a gentleman who had German Shepherds when he was younger. JoJo definitely brightened his day and, according to the staff, made him more talkative and animated than usual.
Our second stop of the day was at SRVS, the largest provider for people with disabilities in the Mid-South. Again, JoJo was a hit with staff members. Apparently I’m not the only one who finds his heavy breathing and smushed face endearing and irresistible.
He was moving slowly through the halls and just collapsed onto his big belly when we entered the first room in the Learning Center to meet people. Turned out that his lazy, laid back attitude was perfect.
Lots of folks came right up to meet and pet him. He loved the attention. Allison, the Volunteer and Activities Coordinator who accompanied us, got lots of requests for pictures.
I think it’s amazing how something as simple as a short visit from a pet can brighten someone’s day. One of the big things I’m learning this week is that it really doesn’t take much to make someone’s day a little better in some small way. I think I’ve smiled more in the last three days than I did in the last three months. Sometimes I feel a little guilty because I think I’m getting more out of this Volunteer Odyssey than I’m putting into it, but then I remember that I’m never the only one smiling.
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