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Is anyone involved in pet therapy?


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I am interested in joining a pet therapy group with Saoirse, because she loves people so much. I think this would be a good hobby for both of us. I have a few questions, though, after talking to the group that is closest to me- which was hard to find. There isn't a group here in Northern VA. So, I had a choice of Maryland or Richmond. I talked with the woman in Maryland, and the first thing I learned was that Saoirse has to be able to pass the basic obedience, which includes sitting (something she can't do consistently yet). So, now I'm looking at maybe doing an obedience class to get her up to speed.

Then, the woman told me that she has had a problem with all the greyhounds she's dealt with, in that they pee on her with no warning. I was shocked, and I admit, laughed out loud when she told me this. She seemed to believe, and had been told by the peeing greyhound owners, that this was normal with greyhounds. I told her it certainly was not, and no greyhound I knew peed on people.

Anyway, I guess at this point, I'm still interested in the pet therapy, but a little put off by joining this group. So, I think I might get certified through Delta Society and start my own group here in VA.

Has anyone done this at any level: member of a group, or going on your own?  I'd like to hear your experience and any suggestions you have for contacting facilities and initiating a program with them!

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All three of ours are pet therapy qualified. There are 2 companies that you can get certified with Therapy Dogs International inc. and Therapy Dogs inc.

 

Lexie and Apollo are certified with both, Demi is only with Therapy Dogs inc. and that is the group I recommend. The test is easier and annual fees are about half the cost.

 

Therapy Dogs International inc. requires a CGC (canine good citizen) test and Therapy Dogs inc. does not. (All mine have passed the CGC) Greyhounds are exempt from sitting, but must down on command. This is in red bold print on the CGC test.

 

Also the entire Therapy Dogs International inc. certification is done on one day, you can have a good day or a bad day. I don’t think it really shows the dog well.

 

The Therapy Dogs inc. test is a series of 3 visits at homes where the demeanor if the dog is evaluated. I think that is a lot better than if they can just sit or stay.

 

It is hard to tell the names of the organizations apart, the difference is international

 

Both links are below.

 

We have done visits in both groups and as individuals. Both are fun and I don’t have any real preference. If you have any questions, just ask.

 

Oh, and as for getting started, just walk into a home, they will be glad you did.

 

 

 

Therapy Dogs International inc.

 

Therapy Dogs inc.

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Greydad,

When you say 'home', what are you referring to? A nursing home, or private home?

I was thinking a local nursing home, or V.A. hospital might be open to starting a program. I think Saoirse would enjoy a children's hospital as well, but there aren't any really close to us (the group in Richmond is connected with the children's cancer center, but that's just too far to drive).

You made a point that, along with the peeing prejudice, turned me off about this Maryland woman. She was insistent about the sitting, said it was a huge myth that greyhounds couldn't sit, etc. She was a very strong personality.

Anyway, I think I'd be comfortable making contacts on my own with facilities about visiting, as long as this is acceptable.

So, I guess once you get the certification from one of these groups, then you're free to contact people about setting up visits?

Where have you been? And how did your dogs do? Saoirse, like I said, loves people. But, she can be a bit spooky about new things, the worst is linoleum (this I think would be the biggest problem for us, not her behavior!)

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I can't wait to get my Buddy and my Pup certified.  We are right now putting Paula and Pup through obedience classes at our vet's office, and we are teaching Boo and Buddy everything the other two are learning.  We have a local dog school/daycare that offers companion dog classes (which end with a therapy dog certification test).  We plan to put Buddy and Pup through this class once they have mastered basic obedience - or maybe just try to teach all the skills on our own, and only take them for the test date.  Either way, it's an exciting prosepct!

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Yes, it is acceptable to make your own contacts once you are certified.

 

You will find a lot of polished tile which is very slippery. Make sure you trim the hair from the bottom of Saoirse’s feet. Also round over her nails as the skin of elderly people is really fragile.

 

You will probably also find cats and rabbits with in the homes. Many have them for comfort, The rabbits are usually in a cage, but the cats run loose.

 

Also patients will pee on the floor and you may get blamed for that. Just reaffirm it was not your dog and leave it at that.

 

We have been to maybe 6 different places. I prefer assisted living as opposed units with stroke and full time care patients. That is just my preference not necessarily the dogs. Each home usually has both areas in different wings.

 

One thing to watch out for :lol  One time there was this old lady in a wheelchair. She was pretty much comatose, slouched and facing away from us, but had long strangely hair that looked like one of our toys. Apollo all of a sudden grabbed it :eek I caught if very fast and no body saw, but it was pretty bad. Funny now in hind site though :lol

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It's funny how you can think something is fairly straightforward then when you get into it all kinds of weird things happen that you would never have anticipated.  Who would have thought that your dog would be blamed for peeing on the floor when it was actually a resident??!!  

 

And I got a giggle about the old lady with the long hair--the visualization was too funny!  It sounds like doing pet therapy has a lot of learning curves for both the dog and the owner.  Has someone written a book yet -- Pet Therapy for Dummies?  It would be a hoot I bet and open a few eyes, too.   :lol

 

Could the dogs were suede booties to help with the tiled floors.  Of course, this would just add to the comedic aspect.  I take all kinds of grief about Rico wearing a coat and snood when it's cold.  If he ever had to wear booties as well, it would be just too much for some people to handle.  They wouldn't be able to contain themselves from laughing.

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Joe and I used to visit at a loal nursing home.  He couldn't sit on command (though occasionally he'd lie down if you said "sit.")  They didn't even ask me.  It was pretty informal.  They gave us a list of residents who had said that they would like a visit, but it was up to us who we saw.  We usually only went to a couple, or would go to people who were sitting around and looked interested.  Joe never peed inside, but he ALMOST did once. (I saw him starting to lift, and said, "NO!" -- made one of the staff jump. Hee hee.)

 

It doesn't hurt to call the local nursing homes and ask if they are interested, or you can call First Call for Help, United Way, or The Volunteer Center and ask if they have listings for requested dog visitors at various non-profits.  There are usually crisis centers, centers for the disabled, or other places that would LOVE to have a grey visit their residents.

 

Good luck! I hope you enjoy it!

 

Tami

Tami, Nikki & Gypsy (non-greyhounds, but still pretty good dogs.) Deeply missing Sunscreen Man, Angel (Back on the Job), Switzler Festus and Joe (Indio Starr)

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 I found the AKC website helpful when I was trying to get Kiowa tested for a CGC cert. (Canine good citizen) They sent me a packet of info for all the clubs and things in my area. Also all the info about what Kiowa had to be able to do to be certified not only for a CGC but also for therapy dog.  Basically for the CGC he had to pass these tests:

 1. Accepting a friendly stranger

 2. Sitting politely for petting

 3. Appearance and grooming (that the dog will welcome and allow someone to handle/groom him)

 4. Walking on a loose leash

 5. Walking through a crowd

 6. Sit and down on command/staying in place

 7. Coming when called

 8. Reaction to another dog

 9. Reactions to distractions

 10. Supervised separation (from you for 3 min)

The only other thing he had to do to be certified as a therapy dog was to not be disturbed by ppl with disablities that required crutches and wheelchairs, and to be able to pass by food laying open in his path without being distracted.

 The AKC website is http://www.akc.org

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Just caught a segment on Emergency Vets today on Animal Planet - the woman vet (forget her name) takes her 11 year old dog (a terrier mix) to a Children's Hospital for visits.  They have a regular pet therapy program there - the dog needs a bath just prior to the visit to remove any dander and germs, probably other rules as well.  But it was inspiring seeing the children's response to the dog.  They even lifted the dog up into the beds with patients who weren't able to sit up, had tubes, etc.  They said kids who have become very withdrawn during long hospital stays will open up and smile around a dog.  Worth looking into...

 

Tam

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Thanks, everyone, for your responses and info.  I am checking all the recommended websites, and gathering info.

Our first step is obedience class- my vet's office offers them, so I'm trying to get a schedule for the upcoming classes.

Maybe the obedience class will help with her fear of linoleum!

I'll keep you posted once we get further down the road with it!

Cheers!

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I work in an adult day care center and my Greyhounds are not certified, but are quite welcome.  I have to provide proof of vaccinations, and I train them myself.  Some are apprehensive about wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches, so I pay special attention to acclimating them to medical equipment.  We have wood flooring with a non-skid coating, which makes it easier for the dogs.  

 

Chyna and I were featured in a newspaper article last year about pet therapy, along with woman who has a Standard Poodle, certified by the Delta Society.  Chyna was better behaved than the poodle, who couldn't keep his nose out of her butt.   :lol  :lol  :lol

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Again, thanks!  You all who are involved in this sound great, and I know the residents appreciate you sharing your dog.

I have talked to my vet about obedience classes, and they are experienced with greyhounds, they 'exempt' them from the sit if they balk at it, and they seem sensitive to Saoirse's special issues: fear of linoleum, spookiness with new dogs. She's really well behaved and minds me quite well, but I think the class will solidify everything for both of us, and help her socialize a little more.

We're doing 'unofficial' therapy in our neighborhood now- my neighbor's mom has Altzheimer's, and there is a semi-invalid lady on our walk route that we visit regularly (whenever the curtains are open!).  So, Saoirse is getting experience with older people, canes, crutches.  No wheelchairs yet, but I figure if she can stand still when the neighbor kids come zipping/screeching up on their bikes and scooters, she'll be okay with a wheelchair.

I'll keep everyone posted. After all your encouragement, I'm really excited about this! :)

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