Advanced Animal Care

therapy dogs

My Granddaughter and I went to the library this week to read with therapy dogs.  It was quite a lot of fun to see the dogs and we learned a lot too.    Here are a few things we learned.

What is a Therapy Dog

A therapy dog is a dog that has been trained to love people and enjoy being petted.  You may get them confused with service dogs.  Service dogs have a job to do.  Often they wear a coat that says, “please do not pet me, I am working.”  Service dogs may be working with the police or rescue workers.  Often they are sniffing for drugs, lost children or dead people.  Service dogs may also be trained to be caregivers to people who are blind or suffer from diseases, seizures or anxiety.  Therapy dogs on the other hand wear a different color coat and their coat says, “Pet me, I’m friendly.”  They are often used to encourage patients and visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, schools and libraries.

Can Any Dog Be A Therapy Dog

A therapy dog must be at least 1 year old and you must be their owner for a few months. They must be healthy and certified by a veterinarian.   If they can do well in training, they can become a service dog.  I was surprised that one of the dogs in the group didn’t really like people when the owner first found him.  He bit her husband many times, but she decided to work with the dog.  Despite her husband’s protests, she was able to retrain him to be safe around people of all ages.

Another one of the dogs was deaf from birth.  He was a beautiful white boxer.  Even though he was deaf and an older dog, he was very gentle and easy going.

Special Needs Therapy Dogs

There are many dogs in our shelter.  The shelter near us is a no kill shelter and so the dogs stay there as long as it takes to find a forever home for the dogs.  Many of the dogs have special needs and remain in the shelter most of their lives.  I think it takes a special person who has time, money and energy to work with a special needs dog.  I think the people who volunteer to take their therapy dogs to visit others, bless the people and love their dogs.