Benny and I visit a behavioral health hospital every Monday and have been with them for many years. We see the acute adolescent unit so rarely do we see the same teens more than once, maybe twice. When we arrive our coordinator walks us to the unit and explains to me a little about the population that day. Today we were told it was the most challenging group ever. Kids were fighting, punching holes in the walls, no one would be quiet or sit still etc. This is not just visiting but participating in a process session and the coordinator and I have become a very solid tag team. We are one of their many sessions a day and Benny can work magic with his calm demeanor and history of being misunderstood - much like they have been. Every one of the teens on the unit came to our session and for one hour were polite, engaged and engaging. We spoke about many areas of their lives that are parallel to Benny's and through the healing power of the dog and the incredible power of touch, everyone remained calm and attentive for all that time. We discussed his troubled background and many health challenges and how he learned differently from other dogs. Various topics came up and the teens asked very potent questions and volunteered things about their own struggles. And for that one hour Benny worked magic. He went to every person and shared with them how patience and trust was the key to his learning how to behave. He was the dog no one wanted and was bounced around his first year of life and they could relate to that. I could see outside the glass door many staffers watching the session. I can always tell when it may be a more difficult session as more security are in the hall! And when we had to leave, some came over to me amazed at what went on. They could not believe the children listened to me, responded to me and respected me. And I told them it was all Benny. You see he is just like them. And his greatest lesson is even though you may have had a rough start in life, never give up. Be kind to yourself, learn from others and be patient. Good job Benny - you truly make a difference.
FYI Usually the one outer door is open and then we get buzzed into the lobby. But because Monday was a holiday, all doors were locked so we had to wait for someone to let us in. Benny waited so patiently! Once they opened the door I had to run back to my car to leave my phone but the photos were worth getting!