I Need Therapy – Week 1&2

| February 10, 2012 | 3 Comments
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A great video about how a Pet Partner can impact people

Sugar Kane giving me some therapy after she wins at the 2011 PSLRA Specialty - http://retrieverlife.com

Sugar Kane giving me some therapy after a big show win

Join The Fun!

I am working on getting our girl Sugar Kane registered as a therapy dog through the Delta Society and I will be training our puppy DJ to get her Working Certificate (hunting) and then begin the process of getting her Junior Hunter title. What are you going to do to begin live the Retriever Life? It’s more than a game of fetch! It’s time to get your retriever involved in the 2012 Retriever Life New Year’s Revolution.

Keep Us Posted

We have set up a special section of our Retriever Life Forum just for the 2012 Retriever Life New Year’s Revolution Challenge where you can tell us about what you new challenge you are taking on with your retriever. So go for it!

As promised in our New Year’s Revolution article I want to keep you up-to-date on my progress with the challenge goals I have set for me and my retrievers. So here we go!

I Need Therapy

As we thought about taking on a new challenge for one of our Labradors, becoming a therapy team bubbled to the top of the list. My wife, Lorraine, and I had pondered this idea for some time and now seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out. So armed with my trusty computer, I looked up the Delta Society which is the leader in therapy dog training. Delta Society recently changed its name to Pet Partners so that they can better reflect the wide-range of therapy teams that are now in the field bringing help to so many people. You can see everything from miniature horses to guinea pigs to parrots wandering the halls of health care facilities, schools, etc. on a mission to provide the people a little ray of sunshine in their oftentimes grey days. Becoming a Pet Partner team will allow me to share some of the great joy that our Labradors bring us every day.

Our First Class

I enrolled in the Thursday evening Therapy Animal Skills & Pet Partner workshop offered by Christi Dudzik at Healing Paws. I started the class with our girl Bica. We arrived at class a few minutes late and Bica was very excited to get to work and she brought the energy level of the room up with her happy demeanor. The previously sleeping dogs were all on their feet with tails wagging and wondering what all of the fuss was about. Bica wanted to say “hi” to everyone but I got settled into a chair with Bica impatiently sitting beside me. After a few minutes she settled down listening intently to everything that Christi was telling us about the Pet Partner program, its history, mission, and how we fit in to the picture.

We then got down to the business introducing our dogs to various pieces of hospital equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, and IV stands. The walkers are of particular interest to many retrievers as they oftentimes have tennis balls attached to the feet. Bica was unphased by any of the equipment and really just wanted to give everyone a big kiss. I felt very proud of Bica and her ability to get right into the program and knew that all of that early socialization and numerous dog shows she’d been to had made her a dog that can handle the newness of the therapy environment.

After we went through the exercises with our dogs, we moved on to the second half of the night’s session. Christi asked each future Pet Partner to share what inspired them to become a Pet Partner and where they want to work with their dog after they finished the course and become registered Pet Partner teams. I thought we might want to work in the Reading With Rover program after we get registered.

Next we went over the materials in the Pet Partners’ Student Manual. It covers everything a Pet Partner team needs to understand in order to become a registered Pet Partner team. Obviously all of us were interested in what we need to do for the exam and it is all covered in the manual. The Student Manual also includes information about working in health care facilities, medical terminology, etc.

Week 2

I decided to change dogs moving forward in the program. I still plan to get Bica registered as a Pet Partner, but I thought that Bica’s granddaughter, Sugar Kane, might be a better fit for me as the student. So when Sugar Kane and I arrived, we immediately got to work. In tonight’s class we talked about about avoiding “conflict”. Whether it is an exuberant person running up to play with our dog, or someone approaching us with their dog, Christi emphasized the need to be our dog’s advocate.

We went through some exercises where we were approached by people both with and without dogs and we had to manage the situation professionally and politely while ensuring the safety of our dog. This is where all of those dogs shows we’d been to paid off. We routinely have to make our way through very tight spaces filled with dogs and people so Sugar Kane caught onto this game quickly.

Then Sugar Kane and I worked on our sit and stay as well as down exercises. Sugar Kane had just learned how to sit this week. You might think that odd but many show dogs are taught to stand instead of sit. We are just learning the down command now. Needless to say, Sugar Kane loves these games as there is always a treat involved! We finished up this part of class with teaching our dogs how to get up on a chair. You can imagine how someone confined to a hospital bed might have trouble interacting with your dog. We train our dogs to get up on a chair to make it easier for the patient to see and touch them. It’s much easier for a two-legged animal than a four-legged animal. Let’s just say that Sugar Kane needs work on this exercise! At least she puts her feet up on the chair.

Stay Tuned And Get Involved!

Watch for our weekly updates! They will come out on each Monday. Also get in to the Retriever Life and take on a new challenge with your retriever in 2012 (see our New Year’s Revolution article). Tell us about your progress in our special 2012 New Year’s Revolution forum!

Category : 2012 New Year's Revolution, Blog

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

Comments (3)

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  1. Connie AuClair says:

    I enjoyed and appreciated all of the info on beginning to train for Therapy Dog Class. I am interested in more.

  2. Connie AuClair says:

    Thank You Toni. I’m not the internet savey one in the family, my husband is MR. TECH. LOL I often cannot find my way back to a desirable site. LOL Toni are you with the magazine or breeding? I love looking at photos and videos of dogs doing anything. Service, training, or just pure doggie (my 1st love labradors) fun and mischief. :0)

    Feb. 29, 2012 We lost our beloved O’Brien within a minute. A perfectly healthy 9 1/2 year white lab just got up, cried out and fell dead to the living room floor. His brother Delaney is laying on the bed beside me now and we have remained glued to each other since. (Which is not much different than our daily life.)

    O’Brien & Delaney are retired Therapy Lads. We visited nursing and assisted living homes. As you know more than most, they brought Joy to the elerly, and to all ages when we shopped in stores, ate at restaurants or sat watching softball at night. :0)

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