Pet therapy

In a recent conversation with my brother, I learned how his German Shorthaired Pointer had become a therapy dog.  As I mulled it over, one of my clients — who is a very special dog — came to mind.  Raymond is a 14-year old Labrador Retriever.  He is very affectionate, highly sociable with strangers (and children), calm in most situations, gentle and well mannered. When I raised the subject with his owner, she said, “Great idea.  Let me know how I can help.”

I began the process by calling the local senior center.   No good. They require that any dog working in their facility be certified as a therapy dog.   I was reluctant to put Ray through a lengthy process due to his advanced age. Besides, after walking him for seven years, I knew he’d be perfect for the job.

To my relief, few skilled nursing/rehab facilities in the area had specific qualifications.  Of course, they would want to meet Ray. But I knew he’d pass any interview process with flying colors. And just as I anticipated, he greeted every resident enthusiastically and calmly, allowing individuals in wheelchairs to pet him.  One family member even inquired whether Ray could pay a one-on-one visit to her brother’s room.

I can’t say whether this is typical, but Ray seemed to know what his role was the moment we arrived. He definitely has the makings of a great therapy dog.  When our time was up, and we walked back to my car, I said, “Buddy, did you have a good time?”   “Woof,” he barked.  And while I can’t speak for him, I know I felt better.

For more information about what it means to be a therapy dog, check out this helpful link:

http://www.caringcanines.org/volunteering.html

About Cambridge Canines Pet Sitting Service

I'm a Cambridge resident who has written about feline behavior and body language for WebMD and Catnip, the Tufts Veterinary School newsletter. In a parallel universe, I also write about healthcare and have won awards for news reporting. A passion for animals led me to start my own pet sitting business in 2004. While the information in my posts has been researched, it is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary-related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly.
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