“Micah! Do you want to go see the KIDS?”
Ears perk up, tail curls over his back and he starts his happy dance and waits by the door to the garage. I load our “go bag” full of games, books, slobber towels, Dasani water (he’s THAT spoiled…), carrots, brushes and cookies for the kids.
Bag in trunk, Micah leaps in the back seat. Is this the same dog I had to physically lift out of the car at the groomer by his buttcheeks??
Arriving at the protective custody group home I pop on his Gentle Leader, leash and purple vest. Mindy greets Micah warmly. “Micah! My sweetie! I was thinking about you ALL day!”
Ah! A newborn beautiful baby has arrived from one of our kids! Less than one day old! Micah sniffs along the side of the bassinet, but it’s set too high for him to kiss baby toes, his favorite flavor.
Another new resident is wide-eyed at the big striped giant and cannot WAIT to get her hands on him! Several kids slip off the sofas and onto the floor, brushing, cuddling and LOVING Micah. The new girl keeps looking at me as if to say, “Is he REAL? Can I actually touch him??” She is in awe and I encourage her to cuddle the giant teddy bear. Another teen who’s been there over two years shows her how to pour his Dasani and the new girl is laughing so hard; she can barely hold the bottle. “Don’t pour it too slow or he’ll swallow air!” Mindy can tell the newer kids all about bloat, the purpose of a mastiff, lipomas, where they originated, how they protect people and all the names, ages and weights of our other mastiffs. Not her first rodeo!
Laying down in the center of the room with his head raised proudly and front legs crossed, he’s telling us that he SO deserves being the center of attention!
“Miss Mary, Look at Micah! He looks like a king! He’s so noble! King Micah!” Oh, yes…Micah knows who he is and he’s exceptional at his job.
We pass out carrots and Micah gets a belly full, spotting which fist is holding the carrot with each child. We play a round of Dog Bingo while others peruse the books I brought. One of the kids yells, “WOOF!” She won Dog Bingo! She’s beaming like the sun! Something GOOD just happened in her life!
Right now, they’re just kids playing a game and loving a dog. Just kids…not abuse victims, abandoned, rape or incest victims, not part of an evil child trafficking ring, No one in this room will hurt them. In this moment, they’re not afraid, defensive, lashing out or angry. Through this gentle giant, they can just be who they may one day become with a little (or a lot) of help. I’m grateful to be a part of the healing with my giants.
A little Q&A period and our time is up. The kids are so relaxed and happy as we pass by the staff’s desk where they’re checking in yet another new broken child. We’ll see you next time, darlin’.
All the kids follow us to the door, some begging me to leave Micah for the night. Another asks if I can bring Micah on her next visit with her therapist. A third has a court appointment and would like Micah there to get her through. I remind them that I’m here for pet therapy, and any other activities have to be approved by their caseworkers and the state. As usual, I tell them that Micah’s my dog and sleeps with me, so he can’t spend the night. They’ve had enough disappointment in life, but we have to draw boundaries, or they’d climb in my back pocket.
As we hear all the security locks click into place on the door, I remove Micah’s vest and leash, watch him clamber into the back seat and drop with a “harumph”. He immediately falls asleep.
Rack up one more successful visit with a snoring giant in the back seat for the long drive home.