Archive for Therapy Dogs

Such a Good Girl !

Today I was struck by a bystander in our therapy dog group setting who told me that I am so “lucky” to have such a great dog. To the untrained eye it does look that way and I do feel so lucky to have Brya in my life.

IMG_8458
Brya IS a great dog. But she could just as easily been a crazy anxious misbehaving dog. I consider us a team. I put the work (and it was a lot of work) in when she was very young to train her. I tell my clients this all the time- if you put in the intense work, no matter what the age of your dog, for the first 6 months and you will have the rest of your pet’s life to reap the benefits.
I practice exercise, discipline and affection in that order. Because I fulfill Brya’s physical needs and I give her reasonable boundaries and limitations, she is a happy girl. This allows me to give her the affection for a job well done. I never wonder how she will act in a public setting. I have exposed her to many different situations and know that she will behave. How, you say? Because we are a team. She looks to me for direction. I was able to build that bond with her and take the leadership role.

Having such great manners and socialization allowed us to pass the Therapy Dog Evaluation and Certification with flying colors-at 1year old!!  We didn’t know what would be asked of us on test day; however, we knew we could handle anything they threw at us…..together!  Brya loves her job and we hope the kids/people she visits agree :)

IMG_8552

Our situation may be a bit different from most dog owners because I happen to work for myself. Therefore, I was able to spend a great deal of time with Brya and she often comes to work with me. But never think you don’t have enough time to train your dog. Even a small amount of consistent training is beneficial. It may take a bit longer to get results, but they will come!

Happy Training!

Therapy Dogs Rock!

Brya and I just wrapped up our first season as a Therapy Team at CAP (Companion Animal Program).

Brya in scarf

I must say I have been drawn to volunteer work my entire life, and this job did not disappoint! After being certified, we visited nursing home residents, college students, rehabilitation patients, as well as the awesome middle school students at the Wixon School in Dennis Brya Wixon 4

People wonder (and we get asked frequently) how just bringing a dog in to a facility is therapeutic. Many studies have shown that Pet Therapy :

-Reduces anxiety, loneliness & helps people relax

-Stimulates communication, increases mental stimulation, and can act as a catalyst in emotional therapy process

-Makes reading easier for a child with a dog present and it is shown to reduce self-consciousness, it also helps to practice reading in a less stressful environment

-Lowers blood pressure and could reduce the amount of medication and not only slows your heart rate and decrease blood pressure, but the animal’s does as well!

-Helps with physical therapy by encouraging increased movement in joints, maintain & increase motor skills, and helps stroke patients exercise longer (studies show they walked up to 35% farther and 35% faster with pets than human therapists)

All of the facilities Brya & I visit bring a different aspect to the reward we get from being there.  Can’t wait for next season!

Brya Wixon 1  Brya Wixon 1

You wonder how dogs are allowed into such sterile buildings? The biggest concern, particularly in hospitals, is safety and sanitation. Most hospitals and other facilities that use pet therapy have stringent rules to ensure that the animals are clean, vaccinated, well-trained and screened for appropriate behavior. In fact, there is a process for all dogs to go through to be certified as a Therapy Dog.

To shed a little light on this wonderful organization; around since 1986 over 200 members and over 130 Therapy Teams visiting 35 facilities and 7 libraries. If you are interested in becoming a therapy team on the Cape, feel free to contact CAP:

http://companionanimalprogram.com/join.html