My Journey to a Therapy Dog- one full year down!

by Sarah White, OT

Well, I feel that a lot has happened since my previous post as well as a little has happened.  Here is what is new:

Teddy passed his Canine Good Citizen Test.  This does not mean too much, other than validation that he is a good doggy in public. It also keeps me in check as a dog owner to continue practicing obedient skills throughout his life.   Teddy also passed his Pet Partners Therapy Dog evaluation!  Part of this evaluation included, clumsy petting, receiving a treat, tolerating unpredictable movements or noises, sit/stay, etc. This was my goal for Teddy.  I wanted Teddy to become a registered therapy dog in order to have liability insurance as well as continued testing in order to hold us accountable, dependable, and reliable as a therapy team.  Now we can start to volunteer in the community!  I ambitiously began to reach out to various community programs, hospitals, after school programs, group homes, and colleges.  Do you know how many responses I got back? ONE!  I am not going to lie, I felt a bit disappointed.  I put a lot of work into this plan and really felt that Teddy would be a valuable therapeutic tool.  However, one is better than none.  Teddy will soon attend various Ithaca College events through the residential program.  I feel that he could offer some emotional support to college students who are away from home.  Who doesn’t want extra snuggles, especially during times of stress?  Finally, Teddy will be a new student on the TST-BOCES campus starting in November one day a week.  My full-time employer understood the therapeutic value animals can offer not only students, but staff.  I feel so fortunate to be employed by companies, like Lifespan Therapies, who think outside the box and are constantly striving for alternative methods to improve independence and quality of life!

If you know anyone interested in hosting an animal therapy team, please contact me!  Teddy and I are eagerly awaiting.