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It’s Not Baldur’s Fault He Has No Thumbs!

, , , , , , | Learning | May 17, 2022

I’m half of a therapy dog team, and one of our regular gigs is a reading program at the local library. It’s to get kids ages six to twelve to come to the library where they sign up for sessions to read to a dog, and it’s a pretty popular activity. My German shepherd partner, Baldur, adores kids and is very affectionate; we call him the Kissing Bandit at home. It’s a habit I try gently but firmly to discourage.

After a little girl finishes her book, she lies down on the mat next to Baldur and begins talking to him, and of course, he is licking her face all the time. Note that one of the guidelines for therapy dog handlers is that unless it’s absolutely necessary, we shouldn’t physically correct the dogs when we’re with clients.

Me: “You know, it’s perfectly okay to let him lick your ear or your hand, but you don’t want to let him lick your face.”

Girl: “It’s fine! I like it. I let our dog at home give me kisses all the time!”

Behind her back, her mother is grimacing.

Me: “Yes, but remember that a dog uses his tongue to wash himself. EVERYWHERE.”

The girl thinks about this for a few seconds, and then:

Girl: “Eeeeew!”

Her mother silently mouthed “thank you” to me.

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