PPL has gone to the dogs! Three therapy dogs visit the library each week, benefiting both patrons and staff by allowing themselves to get loved on and providing a little bit of stress relief to everyone they come across.
Tanner, a 16-month old Golden Retriever, is the most recent addition. He is currently in training to become a certified therapy dog and visits on Wednesday afternoons as part of his training process. Selah is a Poodle therapy dog and visits Tuesday evenings after 5:00 p.m.
I recently sat down with Samantha the Therapy Dog, a purebred Newfoundland who weighs 157lbs and resembles a small (but lovable!) black bear. Samantha visits on Tuesday afternoons after 3:30 p.m. with her teammate Ron Clauser. Samantha strategically plans her visit for after school, and sometimes stays up to two hours depending on how many people she gets to visit.
“We start our Tuesday at the hospital here in Plymouth,” said Clauser. “We visit the Critical Care and Surgery wings as well as the Hematology Center, and then take a break before heading to the library. We don’t have a set agenda or a plan we stick to. We just make the rounds to see people and interact as they see fit. Sometimes someone will pet Samantha and quickly move on, other times someone will sit and love on her for 15-20 minutes while talking to her and myself about their day or what might be going on in their lives. Samantha is a tremendous source of stress relief for strangers, as it is much easier for a person to talk to a dog and open up to them than to a person.”
“We recently made our 795th therapy visit.” said Clauser. “Samantha visits the Plymouth hospital and library, as well as the Knox library and Memorial Hospital in South Bend. We also occasionally visit local schools and universities as well. She is seven years old and has been a fully certified therapy dog for five and half years, so we have definitely gotten around during her time as a therapy dog.”
“Samantha enjoys having stories read to her, although it doesn’t happen often because we are busy visiting multiple spots while we are at the library. A lot of our interactions with children aren’t verbal, at least not until they warm up to her. Some children walk up and just start telling her about their day while others just pet her and move on. It all depends on the child and the circumstances, but Samantha is there for them either way.” said Clauser. “Samantha is also very much loved by PPL staff and she has to make her way around the building to visit all of them while we are here as well. She loves Tuesdays because, during the school year, Tuesdays are Popcorn Day!”
I attempted to interview Samantha for this article but she thwarted providing any answers by drooling on me and repeatedly head-butting my hand so that I would continue to scratch and pet her.
Stop in to PPL on a Tuesday afternoon and say hello to Samantha (and Ron!), and keep an eye out for Tanner and Selah during other times of the week as well!