Saturday, January 12, 2013

Therapy Dogs

So, I just finished reading this amazing book called Dogs and the Women Who Love Them, and it was very inspiring to read stories from many women who volunteered alongside their dogs at nursing homes and hospitals. These dogs were ordinary pets, but they were able to become therapy dogs for a few hours a week, in addition to living at home with their Dog Moms. 

 This was a very intriguing concept to me, because people are often accustomed to the roles of service dogs, K9 police dogs, or narcotics detection dogs, all of which require a dog to be singularly devoted to their task. While their caregivers or those they care for certainly love them, they do not live the typical pet lifestyle. Becoming a therapy dog is a fairly simple way for dogs and their pet parents to give back to society and give their dog a job to do that won't take over his or her entire life.

In order to become a therapy dog, the dog simply has to pass a behavioral test to show that they have the appropriate temperament for the job. Then, the owner walks them through a hospital or nursing home and they spend time with the patients or residents, brightening up their day. The dogs in the book I read about really enjoyed their work and seemed to intuitively know how to best help the people they were serving. 

After reading the book, I briefly thought about the possibility of one day volunteering with Apple as a therapy dog. He obviously isn't cut out for it right now, as he is still a puppy and has too much energy, but if he calms down after his 2nd birthday it could be a possibility for us. He is a very smart breed so he should have the capacity for the job.

Today, I actually had the pleasure of seeing a therapy dog in action. My husband was there, too, and we had a great time interacting with him. This dog was a HUGE Newfoundland named Ranger and would just lie on the floor, all stretched out, for people to pet him. He was literally like a very gentle bear. I talked to his parents a little bit about his therapy work and it was awesome to tell them about the book I had just read.
This is not Ranger, but it looks just like him!

 After we met Ranger, Steven brought up the idea that Apple could one day be a therapy dog, which I really liked because I hadn't yet mentioned that I was thinking about it. It is still a good while off, but maybe one day, Apple will have a future as a therapy dog! If not, he'll be just as fine being our own personal therapy dog.

Be sure to look for my book review of Dogs and the Women Who Love Them, coming soon!

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