Have you ever thought of doing volunteer service for others? Did you ever consider that your dog could also make a difference in the lives of other people too? Bob and Kit thought of just that. They had a desire to help others and they realized that including their dog would also be great for their Schnoodle, Remy.
|Remy looks so official in his Therapy Dog Uniform!|
What is a Therapy dog?
Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and affection to those in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes and schools with children who have learning difficulties and developmental disorders. They also respond to assist people and families who may find themselves in stressful situations and environments such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes.
The early years of a Therapy Dog
When Bob and Kit came to take their Schnoodle puppy home from Growing Puppies, 2 years ago, we never realized what an important job Remy would have one day. But they set about building on their puppies strengths, his good temperament, and his early socialization. They continued to do their part by providing Remy with puppy training classes and reinforcing good habits. By one year of age Remy had already achieved the Canine Good Citizen Award and had advanced to Level 3 Agility. This was just the foundation Remy needed to go on to do even greater things. Before his second birthday, Remy would already be a Therapy Dog.
Therapy dogs must be at least one year of age. They come in all breeds, or mixed breeds, shapes and sizes. Different organizations have different requirements. Some require the AKC Canine Citizen Award, but others do not. What is common is that the dogs are temperament tested to ensure the dog's comfort and reliability in a variety of settings and situations. They also have several visits where they are observed by trained observers. Some hospitals also require training at their facility before they start doing visits.
There are a variety of organizations that provide the service of Therapy dogs. Therapy dogs Inc. does not require the dog to have the Canine Good citizen award. They require you pass a handling skills test and 3 observations. Caring Canines requires both the good citizen award and certification with Therapy dog Inc. plus 3 extra observations. Bob and Kit wanted to join an organization that had relationships with various facilities. So they joined Caring Canines in Richmond, VA. You can scroll down and see Remy's photo in their Gallery of Dogs.
Bob says, the nice thing about being part of an organization is that they have relationships with many organizations and have specific times they visit each month. We pick the time and place that is convenient to us.
What makes a Good Therapy Dog?
"Temperament is the most important trait of therapy dogs, not breed or gender. Good therapy dogs must be calm, patient and gentle with strangers in all situations. They should welcome contact with people, and be tolerant of human personalities and quirks.
Therapy dogs work in various settings and must be comfortable with being handled by a variety of different people. They often enjoy the visits as much as the people they are there to assist." ---Caring Canines.
The whole process of becoming a Therapy dog takes several months from start to finish, as there are quite a few steps. But Bob and Kit find it is very rewarding. As Bob says, "People who like dogs really seem to enjoy the visits. I’m sure many of the people in the nursing homes have very few visitors and enjoy the company and diversion from the normal routine"
Remy turned 2 years old in March of this year, and he is not only a joy to his own family, but he is making a difference in the lives of others. I am so pleased to be able to share Bob and Kits accomplishments with Remy. I hope that their experience might be an encouragement to others to become involved in puppy classes, keep working with the training and hopefully your dog will be a service to others too one day.