First Person: Tamar the Therapy Galgo

I knew when I adopted her she was something special. I have owned four dogs in my life -- beagle, lab and greyhound, but she was different. She has the greatest temperament. Nothing rattles her. She loves everyone and all dogs.

I always wanted to do more activities with my dogs. I did many meet and greets with my greyhound, but I knew that Tamar was able to do more. I decided to see if she could be a therapy dog – from an abandoned dog in Spain to a loving presence at a memory-impaired Alzheimer’s facility. It’s really an amazing thing.

She quickly learned the down, sit and stay, and "leave it command." She easily passed the behavior temperament test, which required her to do all the commands, meet another dog without looking at it, approach a resident in a wheelchair and walker, and walk calming at my side. The Fairfax Pets on Wheels coordinator she said Tamar did great and that I handled her with ease. (Fairfax Pets On Wheels is an all-volunteer organization providing pet visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.)

I had never volunteered with Alzheimer's and memory impaired. Our first visit was intimidating to me. Some of the residents were depressed and downtrodden -- What would I say to them? How would they react to me? Little did I know that I wouldn't have to do a thing. Tamar would do it all.

She somehow knows to put her head on the residents’ laps and they love her because she is so beautiful and calm. It didn't matter what I say -- because some of them talk things that don't make any sense or they just don't talk at all. Tamar takes it all in stride, just being herself. They pet her and talk to her. They say she reminds them of a dog they once had. She works her magic.

First Person is an occasional series where we’ll hear the stories of previous adopters. The author is Nina Miller.

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