Hello everyone – It’s been quite a while since I last wrote for my blog. I’ve been busy, really busy, and I want to tell you all about it.
Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. My dad had some surgeries (he’s doing just fine) which had mom in the waiting room of the local hospital. While she was there she had the opportunity to have a visit from a Therapy Dog. She said it was really nice to have a ‘fur-baby’ to pet and talk to while she was waiting. She said that got her thinking . . . about me, and if perhaps being a Therapy Dog would be a good fit for us.
She was able to attend / watch a Therapy Dog Evaluation at the local hospital. She came home really excited and told me all about it. She said most all of the exercises the Therapy Dogs and Handlers had to do for their evaluation we could already do. Well, maybe not exactly, but with a little training she said it would be a natural fit for us.
Let me explain a little about me and my disposition. I really, really, really love people. Sometimes I like them more than I do other dogs. When I was first adopted by mom and dad I was a little fearful of other dogs. You see, I had been intimidated by other dogs while running on the Rez and I didn’t trust them. Mom helped me through that fear by taking me to the dog park in Prescott – that’s a town a little way from our home.
The dog park in Prescott is really nice. It was built with grant money a few years ago and has artificial grass, some gravel, a few different obstacles, and best of all it is separated into a BIG dog side and a small dog side. Now, at 55 pounds I could be considered a big dog, but mom decided I needed to build some confidence and took me into the small dog side. I was still fearful of the small dogs so we stayed in the corner, on a bench far away so I could just sit and watch. We did this for a few weeks. Eventually, I started greeting some of the other small dogs and even found a playmate or two. I was enjoying my time in the park! We still visit the small dog side occasionally, I’m not too keen on the bigger dogs. They tend to play a little too aggressively. But, that’s OK, mom talked to the people in the small dog side to make sure they were OK with me being there, you know, considering my size and all. They assured mom that it was just fine and more about temperament than size. They are really nice.
To continue with the Therapy Dog story, the next step was a little training for me. Mom found a really great trainer, Deb with Pawsitively Awesome, which has been fantastic. We would meet with Deb and some of her other clients at different locations and go through some training moves. Deb knows a lot about the Therapy Dog evaluation so she would train with that in mind, making sure mom and I went through different exercises that would be similar to what we’d have to do to pass our evaluation. We’re still training with Deb; I really like her, a lot.
Mom also had to do some work on the computer. Through Pet Partners she took, and passed (of course), the handlers course. The next step for us would be the actual evaluation. Originally that was scheduled for June 15th, but the evaluator had an emergency so the evaluation was cancelled. It has been re-scheduled for August 3rd and I’m really excited to get through the final phase. If we’re successful in our evaluation and get certified as a therapy team we’ll start visiting hospitals and other locations where people may need some cheering up.
So, for now, we continue to train. Mom takes me out about five times a week to different places and we go through our paces. We train in Home Depot, Lowe’s, the local mall, the amphitheater in Prescott Valley, and even in Town Hall. All these places are ‘dog-friendly’ which helps us quite a bit. Mom tries to take me to lots of different places and stores so I can get familiar with different surroundings, noises, and people. My favorite place is Michael’s Craft Store. I’ve picked out my ‘woobies’ there. Mom let me rummage through the stuffed toy bin and I picked out my favorite, actually over a few weeks, I’ve picked out three favorites. Mom says she has to stop taking me in to Michael’s, or at least keep me away from the stuffed toy bin.
For this post, I chose a photo taken by mom’s friend, Heidi, when we were visiting her office a few weeks ago. I’m sporting my ‘training harness’ that mom bought for me. I look good in purple, don’t you think? Stay tuned for updates on my therapy dog training and hopefully, my certification. I’m looking forward to being able to give back to society through my therapy dog work.