I'd like to introduce you all to Nounours, my new puppy. I never thought I'd get a small or fluffy dog, having always been partial to Pit-mixes in the past. But it makes sense to have a small therapy dog, as they are easy to transport, clean, and hold in your lap; and the hypoallergenic and non-shedding breeds tend to be fluffy, and adorable... so here I am!
What's a Nounours?
The literal translation from French is "teddy bear," "ours" meaning bear, and "nounou" meaning nanny, but really also serving as some sort of diminutive. I've mostly experienced it used as an endearment. For those, like my family, who aren't very comfortable with the pronunciation, you're more than welcome to call him Nou Nou; he happily responds to both.
He's ridiculously sweet: he likes to snuggle himself into your neck and just melt there; he's made friends with his reflection in the mirror, and wags his tail and play bows to himself accordingly; he's very clumsy, and curious as all puppies are; and he makes soft little anxious noises (something between a snort and a whine) when you first pick him up, as though he's desperate to get closer (as someone not fond of either snorting or whining, you can trust me when I say it's cute); he's gentle, and responsive, and seems to be particularly attuned to human emotion and tone of voice, although I might be biased on that score.
How is he a therapy dog at such a young age?
He's not. He has a long way to go before he can officially be called a therapy dog. He needs to calm down a bit, receive lots of training, and pass a few tests. But he's smart, and has a great temperament, so I think the process should be relatively straightforward. We began our first training class last week, so do wish us luck!
If anyone is particularly interested in meeting, or working with him, do let me know. Eventually, he will be a regular part of my practice, but for now, upon request, he can just be a soothing, and slightly distracting (in both a positive and negative sense) addition to a therapy session. I've only brought him to a few sessions at this point, to introduce him to interested clients, to assess their responses to him, and his behavior, but these sessions went really well!