Lindy Streightiff loves her job. You can see her excitement "as soon as we pull into the parking lot," says Joan Streightiff, better known around Mayo Clinic's Florida campus as "Lindy's mom." Lindy and mom are one of 32 Caring Canine teams that bring tidings of comfort and joy to patients (and staff) during the holidays — and the rest of the year, as well. And though Lindy, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever, isn't paid for her time, she takes her work seriously. So does Mayo Clinic. According to a recent article in First Coast Magazine, before beginning their Mayo careers, therapy teams must be "trained, tested and registered with one of three nationally recognized organizations."
The dogs (and their handlers, we assume) must be bathed and groomed within a week of any campus visit. And both members of the team are issued name badges, complete with official staff portraits that must be worn at all times while on campus. There's even a photo directory on Mayo's intranet, which sort of made our day. (See the sample page with photos of Raspberry Bartlett, Beau Bunch, Bear Cleland and more.)
The job is a labor of love for Lindy — and Joan. "The experience has been more than I ever expected," says Joan, who was "in a stressful job, managing 120 people," before retiring a few years ago. She tells us she was looking for "a way to give back" after retirement, and Lindy's "gentle soul" made her suspect the pooch would be a natural as a therapy dog. She was right, and the two have been volunteering twice a week at Mayo for the past three years. (They have a second gig, too, spending two days a week at an elementary school "working with little ones who have trouble with reading." Good dog, Lindy.)
At Mayo, Joan says it takes at least 20 minutes to get anywhere because "everyone wants to pet the dog." Which is exactly the point, and something Joan (and other handlers) are trained to spot. A smile, eye contact or a wave are tell-tale signs that a patient (or staff member) is interested in some face-to-fur time. But Lindy has her own way of sniffing out where she's needed. At a recent visit, Lindy repeatedly tried to pull Joan over to a patient who seemed absorbed in a book. Though Joan normally takes "nose in book" as a solid "not interested," Lindy's persistence was enough to make her approach the patient. "I apologized and said, 'I'm sorry, but my dog really wants to see you today.'" The woman said she understood why Lindy was so insistent. "I had to put my dog down last week," the patient told Joan. The breed? A Golden Retriever. Just like Lindy.
Get our attention by leaving a comment below. Then, you can use the social media tools to share this story with others.