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 Post subject: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:23 pm 
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Lime and a Coconut
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Anyone have a certified Therapy Dog? Has anyone gone through the process of certifying their animal? I am considering applying for my newest addition Pepper to be an official therapy dog (in the distant future, after planning and work) and would love some advice/encouragement from those who have been there! Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:25 pm 
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Lime and a Coconut
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PS: bonus Pepper pic!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:29 pm 
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My coworker has a therapy pit bull. Her dog's fb page is here, and I'm sure she'd be willing to answer any questions about having a therapy dog. I know she went through a whole training and certification process, and now she visits hospitals, nursing homes, rehab places, schools, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:32 pm 
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I don't (I sadly have no dogs) but my coworker has two dogs that are certified cancer therapy dogs--she takes them every Friday to the oncology floor at the hospital and they bring so much comfort and joy to very sick people.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:37 pm 
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We have reading therapy dogs who come to our libraries about once a week. They are affiliated with therapy dogs international. One of the dogs has his own FB page. His owner is super nice and enthusiastic. I bet she would answer any questions you have.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:54 pm 
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My pit bull, Norton, is got his certification with Therapy Dogs International in 2007. Unfortunately, we moved from Virginia to the Denver area right after he was certified. With all the BSL here, places weren't keen on having a pit bull come to their facilities.

The test itself is pretty easy provided that Pepper listens pretty well and isn't scared of new people, loud noises or strangers with canes, walkers, or crutches. During the test they shook a garbage bag full of tin cans next to Norton to see what his reaction would be. He didn't even seem to notice that it was happening. They also had a group of people using crutches and walkers shamble around him (it looked like a scene from The Walking Dead without all the gore) to see if that would freak him out. The only part of the test that he had trouble with was having to sit and stay while I walked away from him. At the time, TDI required that he receive his Canine Good Citizen award from the AKC but I'm not sure if that's still a requirement or not. It was just a test of basic obedience skills in order to pass that.

I'd be glad to answer any questions you've got about the testing process.

P.S. - Pepper is ridiculously adorable.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:03 pm 
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she's already an internet therapy dog.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Lime and a Coconut
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Thanks for the responses, everyone!

I have started researching the process of certifying Pepper. I think she would be a great candidate because she's very loving, calming, and friendly. She'll sit on your lap and gaze up into your eyes for as long as you'll let her. She seems to pass most of the criteria discussed in the AKC good citizen test, although I think she could probably be a little better at coming on command, especially if there's an exciting new dog in the other direction to meet!

My main question at the moment is about the letters of recommendation she would need from institutions that would be interested in using her. I guess I naively thought that TDI would be placing dogs where they are needed, but it seems to be more of a situation where we actively seek out places where she could volunteer. I'm not much of a people person and although I'm excited about Pepper helping people, the thought of going into a medical institution can be pretty intimidating. I'm most interested in what other people's experiences were in finding places for their therapy dogs to volunteer, and what sort of things TDI looks for in a recommendation.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:00 am 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:
Thanks for the responses, everyone!

I have started researching the process of certifying Pepper. I think she would be a great candidate because she's very loving, calming, and friendly. She'll sit on your lap and gaze up into your eyes for as long as you'll let her. She seems to pass most of the criteria discussed in the AKC good citizen test, although I think she could probably be a little better at coming on command, especially if there's an exciting new dog in the other direction to meet!

My main question at the moment is about the letters of recommendation she would need from institutions that would be interested in using her. I guess I naively thought that TDI would be placing dogs where they are needed, but it seems to be more of a situation where we actively seek out places where she could volunteer. I'm not much of a people person and although I'm excited about Pepper helping people, the thought of going into a medical institution can be pretty intimidating. I'm most interested in what other people's experiences were in finding places for their therapy dogs to volunteer, and what sort of things TDI looks for in a recommendation.


There's a pediatric palliative care center in San Leandro. Or actually any hospice is much less intimidating than a big medical institution. A lot of kids at pediatric palliative care centers are non-verbal.....so you don't have to worry as much about what to talk about.

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 Post subject: Re: Therapy dogs
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:49 pm 
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Erika Soyf*cker wrote:

My main question at the moment is about the letters of recommendation she would need from institutions that would be interested in using her. I guess I naively thought that TDI would be placing dogs where they are needed, but it seems to be more of a situation where we actively seek out places where she could volunteer. I'm not much of a people person and although I'm excited about Pepper helping people, the thought of going into a medical institution can be pretty intimidating. I'm most interested in what other people's experiences were in finding places for their therapy dogs to volunteer, and what sort of things TDI looks for in a recommendation.

You may want to see if there are other certification groups near you and find which one has the best fit. I know my coworker didn't do TDI, and the places she goes to contact her (or rather contact the therapy group and they pass it on), so she didn't have to go out seeking places. She gets so many requests now that she has to turn some down. One of her favorite places to go is a "home for the deaf". It has a smaller population than a hospital, and the people live there, so she gets to visit the same ones every week and get to know them. Some schools and libraries have "read to a dog" programs to encourage kids to read, and they often use certified therapy dogs, so that might be something interesting to check out too. I used to take my (uncertified dog) to a nursing home and a day care facility for people with Alzheimers. The alzheimers place could be a bit difficult, because sometimes the people could behave erratically (suddenly grabbing the leash and trying to drag my dog away, etc.). I eventually stopped going because I didn't want my dog to get too stressed. But most of the people there really enjoyed Sable, and had no interest in me, so I didn't have to awkwardly make small talk or anything. And we once took a little poodle from the shelter to a school for children with disabilities, and it was wonderful to see the kids interact with the dog. Definitely a heartwarming experience.


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