Therapy Dog Training – Pet Partners Team Evaluation (Part 1)

| September 11, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter in pursuit of the elusive Yellow Labrador Retriever

This post is a long time in coming! Zeus and I went for our initial Delta Society Pet Partners Team Evaluation in early May of this year. I say initial because we failed on the very first exercise of the evaluation! Ok, let me explain, because it was really not Zeus’ fault at all. A very good friend of ours, Scott Washington from Alpyneaire Labradors in Australia, was visiting us and tagged along to the evaluation as our official photographer/videographer. I figured we could get some footage to share with our Retriever Life buddies to show off what a great Pet Partners Team Zeus and I make. Well I should have known that things never go quite as planned…

The Delta Society Pet Partners Team Evaluation is the final stage of the Therapy Dog training program but it also represents the beginning of a new way to interact with your dog and your community. While the Pet Partner Evaluation is straightforward and we were very well prepared thanks to the Pet Partners Team Training Course we took, it should not be underestimated. Nerves, new environments, new people, etc. can throw off even the best prepared teams. The added complexity of a videographer coupled with a touch of overconfidence on my part led to setting ourselves up for failure!

The Delta Society Pet Partners Team Evaluation is deigned to mimic an actual Pet Partner visit. The handler and dog must look the part – business casual for the handler and a washed and groomed dog. Zeus and I arrived at Healing Paws ready to go. Given our successes in the mock Pet Part Evaluation and the beautiful spring day we were working on, I was very confident in our chances. Zeus and I began the evaluation by handing in all of our paperwork, and providing the evaluator – Christi Dudzik from Healing Paws a brush that is to be used as part of the evaluation. Scott positioned himself, camera in hand, outside the evaluation ring and Zeus and I walked around getting him used to the various parts of the area and hopefully setting us both down for the evaluation.

The first exercise was a combination of “Accepting A Stranger”, “Accepting Petting”, and “Appearance and Grooming”. Scott was shooting some video footage and sneaking around Christi and I so he could get a better view of Zeus. Zeus caught a glimpse of Scott crouching and pointing his camera at Zeus and I saw his ears go up. I did not think anything of it until he let out a bark followed by giving me a big kiss. He was telling me what a good boy he was for protecting us from the mean old cameraman. Well Christi said that was the end of the evaluation because a Pet Partner cannot vocalize during a visit or the evaluation.

Even though we were done for the day, Christi allowed us to complete the remaining exercises for practice and Zeus passed all of the rest of the exercises with flying colors. Christi commented on how well I supported Zeus during things like the “Clumsy Petting”, “Staggering, Gesturing”, and “Crowded and Petted By Several People”. So even in defeat there was some success!

While I was disappointed, I knew that this was only a small setback and we would find another Pet Partners Team Evaluation event to get our pass the evaluation and start our new adventure as Delta Society Pat Partners!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Category : 2012 New Year's Revolution, Blog

About the Author ()

Hi, I am Toni Leitão! I am one of the people who came up with this crazy idea for Retriever Life. Retrievers are my life and passion. Oh and I like long walks in the park (especially in the rain) and watching a movie with my Labrador "pillow".

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