I recently visited a daycare center with Samantha, our 10 year old golden retriever. It had been awhile since I had taken Sam out to work and she loved the attention. The kids ranged in age from two years old up to about four and they were adorable.
I couldn't help but notice, however, just how few kids had pets at home and how frightended some were of such a large dog. This is Sam mind you, my old timer with the white face and the sweet smile- the dog who adores children. Before the session was finished we had won over quite a few hearts and set some real strong foundation work for future dog lovers.
Sam has been a certified therapy dog for many years. She has had thousands of hours worth of training and has visited with dozens of people over her lifetime. How proud I am of her and her great ablitiy to be gentle and win over the hearts of the skeptical- I can't count the number of people who have fallen in love with Sam. She is great with kids, the elderly, the disabled, and those rehabiliating from injury or illness. She has always amazed me in her ability to adjust her style to meet the needs of a disabled patient in a hospital, or in this case an anxious child at a daycare center. I am honored to be her handler and share her with the world.
Therapy work is not for every dog, but for those who live and breathe to be with people. Training your dog what she needs to know to be well-mannered in public facilities is time consuming but oh so rewarding when you see that first person fall in love with your dog. Over the years Sam has brought me in contact with an amazing amount of people. She is an incredible ice breaker and a healer of hearts and souls. The children who have participated in our afterschool programs have grown to love Sam and many have become dog lovers (and owners) because of her. She is a terrific dog that I feel compelled to share with anyone who needs a friend.
If you too have a special dog that loves people you should consider training him or her to be a therapy dog. Canine University offers a therapy dog preparation class for anyone interested in training their dog to work in health care facilites. This course is designed to polish your dogs obedience and is considered a level 3 class ( meaning most people have completed Beginners Part 2 with us).
Our fall therapy dog course is scheduled to begin on Thursday, November 1st at 7:30 pm. Class size is limited to 8 dog/handler teams so sign up early. We hope you'll join us for this informative class and learn how to share your special dog with others who desperately need a visit from a friend.