Is your dog a Therapy Dog?Published December 1, 2008
What does it mean to be a therapy dog? The question came up in our household this week when the Thanksgiving Holiday brought with it a number of emotions from humans ranging from gratitude (for all blessings), sadness (for those no longer to share the Thanksgiving table), celebration (the open door for visitors and merrymakers) … to contemplation (the quiet meditation that comes after excessive, non-stop, belly-busting eating). Throughout it all, Maxi, rose to the occasion. He was wagged his tail when the doorbell rang; he tirelessly participated in the ‘chase the sheep toy’ with novice visitors seeking physical entertainment; he went out for ‘extra walks’ with guests who insisted on going for a stroll (even though Maxi hates the rain); and of course he indulged in the never-ending stream of head rubs, shoulder-massages and even coat-brushing that came his way every five minutes. Without questioning us, Maxi took part in both scheduled and spontaneous social activities that come with a national holiday, including a little separation anxiety at the end. This begged the question in our household…why not let’s apply for Therapy Dog certification. If one dog could bring so much peace to a household, surely those living in institutions might benefit. He’d be great, we affirmed. We did the research, printed out the application form and prepared the check…but there was something wrong. We knew it and so did Maxi. It’s highly possibly that despite all the good nature of a Shetland Sheepdog, there is a problem and he is not perfect. It all started when my husband used his ‘alpha dog’ voice to summons Maxi upstairs. It’s not that Maxi doesn’t understand the word ‘Come,’ it’s that he thinks about it first and weighs the odds before responding. As would most humans, after the fifth time my husband’s voice escalated the command to a near scream that added the dog’s name (just in case he wasn’t sure who he was speaking to). “MAXI, COME!!!!!!!!!! At this point, Maxi had firmly decided that my husband did not offer any incentives or rewards, and that in fact, ‘Going…in the other direction would be the best move. So, it seems that we have been out-foxed by Therapy Dogs International. Have they made up a test that is simply impossible to pass? We were bound to get an ‘A’ in all the other categories, but ‘Coming on command…’ is not happening. We’ll see. Maybe on the day of the test, Maxi will be in the mood. What do you think? Would your dog make a good Therapy Dog?
- Filed Under: News & Blogs