Blue Bonnet is a facility dog at Shoedair Children’s Hospital in Helena, Mont., where Sister Trish Dick works as a spiritual counselor with children who have undergone extreme trauma. Welcome to a day in the life of Blue Bonnet, told through Blue Bonnet’s eyes!
First of all, I sleep on my favorite old couch. It probably should be thrown out, but I LOVE IT more than my dog bed and my mom’s bed. Early in the morning when it’s still dark, my mom gets up and will come and snuggle with me on the couch. I really love her belly rubs. She drinks coffee and prays. She tells me all the sisters who have died and stories. I do notice by the end of week the prayer time is shorter and she forgets to tell me stories.
I love food—especially my kibble, and it’s grain free. I am a gluten-free dog, otherwise I itch all over. Every morning, my mom feeds me a cup of kibble and a fish oil pill to make my coat shine. She gives me the look and I know to sit before I eat. She calls it more of a genuflect than a sit. Mom brushes my teeth and my coat, puts my work vest on and off we go to work. I know exactly where we are going and where the hospital is, which allows me to get a few more zzz’s of sleeping before work. I think she talks to me, but I don’t really listen.
First thing I do when I get to the hospital is check in with the CEOs when the door is open to report to work and my first pet and of course treat. My mom says he can give me treats. When we arrive in her office, I always need to check out my dog bed, my toys and my water bowl to make sure they are all ready. My mom takes me to the “spa” I call it. These ladies in the medical records department give me some treats and rub my belly and paws while I wait for mom to get me some fresh water and talk to people. She comes and gets me and off we go to see patients.
Sometimes I find patients in the halls crying or struggling and I will go give them a nudge with my nose and let them pet me. Sometimes they are too upset and sad to have me around or I might be just what they needed to get them to calm down. The patients like to play with me and my mom gives them treats (kibble) to feed me. I love it when they teach me new tricks and I learn new words. The patients think since I am a purebred golden retriever that I would like to play fetch, but I am not really interested in playing fetch. What’s the point of it? I now use my nose to point to the right word association for a treat. I can tell the difference between a giraffe, donut, baby, dog and monkey. Oh, by the way, the donut is stuffed, unfortunately. My mom says I am food driven just like her. I like treats.
When we meet with patients in our office, they will snuggle with me or brush me. They say I relax them! They tell my mom sad stories and cry sometimes. My mom takes me outside for regular breaks so I can do my business and sniff around the playground. Sometimes we will walk around the hospital so I can run a little and shake off all those emotions. She even did it when it was cold and snowy. I love playing, rolling and making snow angels.
Every lunch I have my dog toy, Kong, that is stuffed with yummy treats that my mom freezes the night before. I can throw it in the air to get all the treats out and sometimes folks help me. My mom takes me to meetings and I have to walk around and greet everyone. Those meetings are the perfect time for a nap and I seem to snore at the right times, especially when things are tense or boring. By the end of the day, I am ready to go home and chill. The most irritating thing about my mom is that she is constantly forgetting things and having to go back to the office. When she finally takes my work vest off, I roll around in the grass and leave all of the hospital emotions behind. My mom and I are both dog-tired at the end of the day.
Trish Dick, OSB