Have you ever wondered if your dog would make a good Therapy Dog? Right from the start Icy had that rare gentle, sweet disposition that made her ideally suited for the Therapy Dog role she would have 2 years later. The key attributes of a successful therapy dog are a gentle temperament, being well socialized, and solid basic obedience skills. She inherently possessed the first quality, it was up to me to help her develop the socialization and obedience skills she would need as a Therapy Dog.
|Icy in front of the Christmas Tree at a local Nursing Home where she visits residents weekly. I don't show photos of the residents to respect their privacy|
|Icy at a mall during her training, curiously checking out a Carousel|
A sad looking woman approached Icy and quietly asked to pet her. As she stroked Icy, she began to talk about her German Shepherd, who had recently died. As she talked, it was apparent that the loss of her dog was traumatic and she was having a terrible time dealing with it. After petting Icy for awhile, she suddenly grabbed her and hugged her closely. Tears rolled down the woman’s face as she spoke about how much her dog had meant to her and how terribly she missed him. She was letting her tears and emotions out, allowing herself to be comforted by Icy. It was truly an amazing thing to witness.
She left after about 20 minutes, smiling and thanking us for letting her pet our dogs. Paulette and I looked at each other, shocked at the sudden change in this woman’s mood from sad to bright and cheerful. “I think we just did Therapy Dog work” I said "and we're still in training!" It was such a great feeling knowing that interacting with our therapy-dogs-in-training helped lift this woman’s sadness, even if only for awhile.
After that, Icy laid down, emotionally drained by the experience. Paulette and I decided it was time to take our “Therapists” home.
Any breed or type of dog can become a therapy dog, it's really about their individual temperament and personality. If you're interesting in learning more about becoming an animal therapy team visit the Pet Partners web site. Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is another organization through which your pet can become a therapy animal.
|Icy at a Stress Busters event at a local college where students took a break from finals to visit Therapy Dogs and unwind. I obtained permission from the students to post event photos.|
Did you know some Puppies are Being Raised in Prison for a life of service?
Is your dog a therapy dog? If so, please share how your dog helps people in need, by leaving a comment. I’d love to connect with other therapy dog handlers, and organizations who utilize therapy dogs as well so please share your blog URL in a comment and let’s connect!