This is Doobie, our therapy dog. What makes him a good therapy dog?
A good therapy dog will not jump up on people but will wait patiently either sitting or standing with all four on the floor to be pet.
A good therapy dog knows that when you tell them to leave something alone, they will leave it alone. This is so, so, so important for the safety of your dog. God forbid they ever pick up a pill that has fallen on the floor. We also don't want them to be cleaning food or anything else off the floor, or someone's bib, or from the trash, or... well, you get the idea.
A good therapy dog does not scare easily. It is alright if something or someone startles them, but they need to be able to recover quickly and go on about their business.
Most importantly, a good therapy dog doesn't care if someone is in a wheel chair , using a cane or walker, walks with a limp, doesn't have legs, pets them with hands that are disfigured from arthritis, is loud, is quiet, is very old, or very young. A good therapy dog will be accepting of almost everyone.
If you think your dog has what it takes, and you have the time to give, here are some steps you can take.
1. Start with obedience training
2. Take the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC)test. While this is not necessarily a requirement for all Pet Therapy organizations, it is a good gauge for you to know how you and your dog are doing.
3. Find an organization that fits you. Doobie and I are with Pets On Wheels. They are a good, easy going, caring organization.
Please consider becoming a therapy team. You will help to make someone's day a little better.
Do you know what joy looks like on your dog? I mean pure joy. I see it every once in a while and it's just beautiful. I bring the dogs to an area where I can let AnnaBelle and Doobie off leash and Percy gets the 20 foot lead so he can at least feel like he's free and run with them. Belle runs across the grass, from tree to tree, hoping for squirrels or rabbits to chase. She investigates every hole she finds and follows every scent. I swear if she could smile, you'd see it stretch from ear to ear. One whistle or call of her name and she comes running back to me for her treat. Okay, so maybe sometimes it takes two or three whistles or calls - but not very often. Then as we start to head back home, she'll find a nice patch of clover and stretch out as if to say "ahhh, this is the life." Seeing them able to just be dogs and do what dogs do for a while, brings me joy too. I wish it was something we could do all the time.