Sundays with Minor This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     "Comeon, Minor. It's time to go." Every Sunday afternoon when I give my dog thatcommand, he bounds to my car and we're off.

It's not every day you can seea 17-year-old and her golden retriever cruising the highway, but Minor and Ialways take I-91. It's the fastest way to the convalescent home where weparticipate in pet therapy.

Pet therapy is a volunteer program that bringspeople and their dogs to visit with elderly residents. When I first signed up, Iwasn't sure what to expect. How would Minor and I interact with people more thanfour times my age? What would we talk about? I was nervous when I went for myfirst visit. I had been assigned to visit Sam Johnson. Grasping Minor's leash, Iknocked at Room 405.

"Excuse me, Mr. Johnson. I'm here to visit.This is my dog Minor. Is it all right if we come in?" I received a lowgrumble in the affirmative.

Slowly, Minor and I entered. Seated in awheelchair was an elderly man, paralyzed from the waist down, with hunchedshoulders and a bowed head. He lifted his eyes to us. Minor instinctively walkedover and laid his head in Mr. Johnson's lap. As he stared at the mass of fur, Iwondered what to say.

Slowly Mr. Johnson raised his hand and gentlybegan to pat Minor's head. A big smile spread across his face. He stuttered as heasked me if there was any relation to coal. Not quite hearing him, I asked Mr.Johnson to repeat the question. Understanding him the second time, I was afraidthat Mr. Johnson was confused or suffering dementia. Seeing my perplexed stare,Mr. Johnson repeated, "Is there any relation to coal. Get it? A coalminer." He chuckled at his own joke.

It has been a few months sincemy first visit with Mr. Johnson. Minor and I have visited many other residents,but we always stop by Room 405. Each time we are greeted with a smile. A smallwall calendar, the only object on Mr. Johnson's wall, has stars on every Sundayand the letters "M & M" for Meredith and Minor. Mr. Johnson looksforward to the time we spend with him each week. He will pat his buddy Minor andask me about school. I share anecdotes as he eagerly listens, and every week hetells me a new joke.

Minor enjoys pet therapy. His fans adore him and Igive him plenty of dog treats, but I am really the one who gains the most fromthese visits. Over and over again the residents ask me how old Minor is, what helikes to eat and what kind of dog he is. I don't even mind describing Minor'seating habits for the twentieth time in one day.

Many ladies like toreminisce about their pets. Others enjoy sitting silently while stroking Minor'ssoft fur. They are always appreciative of our visits. Even though a few hourseach week is not much, our being there means a lot to them. While I'm visiting, Iforget about trivial things like what I'm going to wear to school or whether Ihave a cool car. The residents don't care what I look like, or what I drive. Theyare thankful for the simple joys of company and a dog's warm kisses. I amthankful for finding more joy and satisfaction than I ever imagined in providingpet therapy.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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