Hello Sproutians!! Many of you may have spotted a big-footed, furry, Chocolate Labrador puppy (frequently mistaken for a bear) trotting around the Sprout clinic over the past 2-months – Yes, Magick the Therapuppy has arrived at Sprout!
Magick is settling in nicely at the clinic and is always super keen to visit. He knows that he has a special job to do and makes sure he’s very thorough in saying ‘Hello’ to EVERYONE (!!!)
Of course, this could not have happened without the amazing support from the Sprout Team and Families. So before diving into this weeks blog, I would first like to thank everyone for being so accommodating in welcoming Magick into the Sprout community. It has been a huge help having everyone on board in teaching Magick how to greet people politely, and your encouragement has certainly made the toilet training process at the clinic a whole lot quicker! SO a huge thank you!!
Its no secret, my journey to become a human-canine therapy team continues… And to be honest, this blog was a difficult one for me to write – I want so much to report that our first steps together was a happy, blissful, dream come true…but truthfully- we had a VERY rocky beginning!
It’s (only!) been 2.5 months since I brought my furry bundle of joy home. It was all excitement when the day finally came to pick Magick up. It was a 2-hour drive home and I remember panicking a little, thinking – “oh no! What have I done?!…am I really doing this? Is this really happening?!”
All the while, Magick was crying in the back seat, canine therapeutic listening was blasting through my speakers intermittently being disrupted by the voice from the GPS… Lucky for me, Magick settled quickly and our drive home went smoothly.
This was as good as it got for the first month…
…36-hours later, Magick needed to visit the Vet (already!) because he had an allergic reaction to grass in his eye, 6-days later we had to move (yes- our third move) back home to the Yarra Valley because the small fluffy pooch we lived with (near Mornington) wasn’t as socialised as we had thought; causing stress in Magick and affecting his behaviour- BIG TIME!
This was probably the most energy draining aspect of our failing introduction. The resulting 5am wake up/ set up, and 1-hour, 15-minute commute to the clinic is not something to be desired. But counting our blessings, it was far better than having a traumatised puppy!
…The fun continues with Puppy Pre-school … (i’m laughing as I type this) with all the possibilities that could have taken place, I certainly did not foresee Magick being a Puppy School rebel. Magick developed a reputation for being the “Puppy School Bully”!
It was certainly hard hearing comments like “Magick! What happened to you, you were such a chilled dog!” or “Labradors are one of the hardest dogs to train”… along with the chance that Magick had developed a slight reactivity to small fluffy dogs (fur-parenting failure on my part)- I felt like I had broken this sweet puppy. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I even contacted his breeder to ask if I did in fact ‘break’ him.
Thankfully, the wonderful support from his breeders and the Sprout team never faltered. We were given an extra week to settle into our new home, which also gave us a few opportunities to practice visiting the clinic before the big day.
Feeling hopeful, our first official day at the clinic arrived – It was a complete DISASTER that resulted in the day ending early!
Needless to say, there have been many days where I’ve wanted to give up on this venture. I’d find myself going through cycles of asking and re-asking, “why am I doing this?…I’m not gaining anything from this! Its more financial and emotional loss than its worth!!”
When I embarked on this journey, I wasn’t naive to think it was going to be easy. I knew it was going to be hard work, all puppies are (not to mention Therapuppies).
The thing that had me seething however, was knowing that things turned out harder than it needed to be, because NONE of the carefully thought out plans worked… We weren’t supposed to end up so far away, we weren’t meant to be relying on people to puppy sit while I drove around all day, Magick wasn’t meant to be spending 10 hours a week riding in the car etc. etc…It was easy to get caught up in this downward spiral.
…Except that I was reminded everyday by the profound love I have for Magick that:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Fox, The Little Prince)
Putting myself aside, I thought about the families who came to Sprout. The everyday unsung HEROES who are trying to provide and nurture all of their children- not just those who have additional needs.
The families who may be fighting their own silent battles, whilst trying to raise their kids, balance work, run a household, and still manage to come to therapy with enthusiasm- The families who too had plans, re-written for the love they have for their children.
Although I don’t even come close to ‘walking a mile’ in the others shoes – This experience has no doubt pushed me to be a better therapist. It took several supervision sessions with my mentors to realise that – It is more important to be present to enjoy the ‘real-time’ events rather than living in ‘fast-forward’.
So in the grand scheme of things – it doesn’t really matter that things didn’t go to plan. There’s no better reward than being with my missing piece – Magick is my heart and “home is where your heart is”. I am so honoured that I get to share Magick with you, and it is so amazing to see the reactions of those who meet him (just remember to also say ‘hi’ to the human at the other end of the lead!).
Magick and I have certainly found our rhythm- we’re inseparable now! It is such a joy to watch Magick grow (albeit a little too quickly!) and learn things. Magick surprises me everyday with the things he can do and the mischief his gets in to! We’re definitely looking forward to all the opportunities the future has to bring!!