Reader Voices: Max is a therapy dog that goes visiting, home teaching

By Sally Malaret

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Oct. 16 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Max is a therapy dog Sally Malaret takes visiting teaching with her.

Sally Malaret

I was home for the weekend to visit with my parents and sisters in September 2007. This particular Saturday, my sister, Joyce, was helping to do a dog transport for rescued dogs from two counties' dog pounds to go to a rescue shelter in Canada. When my sister had been asked to help with this transport, she told the group no several times. She finally consented to help with the transport from Findlay, Ohio, to Monroe, Mich. She asked me to go along with her, I thought it was OK but could think of things to do that would be more fun.

As I was sitting in the car, I felt an impression to go and see the beautiful brown dog. I listened and volunteered to take the big brown dog for a walk. He seemed to understand when I asked several things of him (slow down, sit, stay and shake hands). He happily got into the car and liked looking out the window. My sister saw him as another dog, with nothing really special about him. I felt this strong impression to ask about taking Max home to be a therapy dog. My sister started making telephone calls to see if we could Max off the transport so I could take him home with me. When we arrived in Monroe, the connecting transport staff was late in coming. Minutes before they arrived, the telephone call came stating that I could take Max home.

In November, my husband and I took Max to be evaluated to become a therapy dog. He passed the evaluation. It was in February 2008 that all of the paperwork and certifications were in and completed and we could start visiting at the hospital where I work.

One of the patients that we met struggled with talking to us because of choking. I told the patient that he did not need to talk and that he could pet Max as long as he wanted to.

A couple of weeks later when Max and I were leaving the cafeteria, a young woman asked me if my dog was the famous Max. I told her that if didn't know if he was famous but his name was Max. She told me that her mother had talked of a dog that came to visit her husband. The young woman then asked if we could come and visit her mother in the intensive care waiting room because her dad was now in the intensive care unit. The woman was so happy to see Max again. When Max and I left, I took her hand and told her that I would keep her and her family in my thoughts and prayers. This sweet woman's husband passed away two days later.

When I was doing my visiting teaching to the Relief Society president that week and we talked about the experience with Max at the hospital, she told me that this couple were members of our ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They had been inactive for a long time. Less than a week later, the Relief Society president called and asked Max and I to go visiting teaching to this sweet sister. Max and I continue to go visiting teaching together to see her each month. She is always happy to see Max.

Earlier this year, the new Relief Society president called me and asked if Max and I could go to a nursing home in Pickerington to see a sister who was a member from another Mormon ward. Max and I would go twice a week. Of course while we were there, there would always be other residents or visitors who also would like to spend a couple of minutes with Max.

Max also goes home teaching with my husband to see a brother who is in another nursing home in Pickerington.

Max was a dog who in nobody wanted but today he is a welcomed guest whether it be at a nursing home, hospital or home of a LDS Church member.

Sally Malaret is from Pickerington, Ohio.

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