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Monday, 12 January 2015

The life of a Therapy dog


Welcome to OMD (Oh my dog!) Mondays.
We have a super special post for you today, as we take a look at the life of a therapy dog named Isis.

Siberian Husky

This gorgeous girl is a Siberian Husky named Isis.
Cathy from one of my FAV blogs ; Dogs luv us and we luv them  agreed to do an interview here with us today.

Please welcome Cathy and Isis.


1. Before we begin, please tell our readers exactly what type of therapy 
work your dog does.

Isis and I are a registered Pet Partners Animal Therapy team.  We visit people who need a little extra TLC.   A visit with Isis can help people relax and reduce their anxiety, creating a more comfortable and "safe" atmosphere for them.   She makes people smile and laugh, offering affection and making them feel loved.   

We participate in children's reading programs at public libraries, where kids read out loud to her.  This helps them improve their reading skills in a calm, non judgmental environment.  We visit nursing homes to provide a welcome visit to seniors who may be feeling lonely or depressed.  We also participate in stress buster events for college students during finals week to help give them a reprieve from the stress of final exams and assignments.

2. Your pup (Isis) is a Siberian Husky. We know they can be stubborn and hard to train at times, so how hard was it to get her into therapy work?

Yes, she's a purebred Siberian Husky, specifically a "Red" Siberian Husky as evidenced by her Reddish-Brown and White fur.  As Huskies go, Isis isn't nearly as challenging to train as some Huskies can be but they definitely have a mind of their own!  I've worked very hard with Isis since she was a puppy, first enrolling her in Puppy training class, then Intermediate and Advanced obedience classes.  We also took introductory classes to Agility and Obedience Rally.  She ultimately passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) and was then CGC certified, which a basic requirement to be a Therapy Dog.  Training Isis has always required a little extra effort because like most Huskies she is quite willful.  But she's very smart and really enjoys the challenge of learning new things and playing games - of course, only if they involve a food reward!

Therapy dog
Isis doing her 'thang' at a nursing home

3. What made you want to get into therapy work with Isis?

I had read about the amazing work therapy dogs do for people and was always fascinated by it.  I'm a huge believer in the human-animal bond, and believe that dogs can make a huge difference in the lives of people.   As soon as I met Isis I was struck by her incredibly gentle disposition and her sweetness.  Everyone who meets her remarks on how "sweet" she is!  When she was very young I always thought that she might make a good therapy dog some day because of her gentle nature.  Dogs have to be at least a year old to be Therapy Dogs so once Isis turned a year old I began thinking seriously about becoming a Therapy Dog team.

4. How long have you and Isis been working?

We've been working as a Therapy Dog team for 2 years.

5. Having been doing this for 2 years, are you glad you started it to begin with? 
Any regrets?

I have absolutely no regrets about becoming a Therapy Dog team, it's a joyful experience and one of the most rewarding things I've ever done!  It's important to me to give back to my community and to help others.  To be able to help people alongside my dog as a team, well what could be better!?

therapy dog husky
Isis at a children's library 
6. Tell us some of the biggest benefits you accomplish with Isis working
 as a therapy dog.

One of my favorite Therapy Dog assignments (and I think Isis' too!) are the children's reading programs we've participated in at local libraries   Many of the same children come to the library regularly.  It's so rewarding to see how much fun they have, how they relate to Isis (they love her!) and to see the progress they've made.  Last week one of the mom's was remarking on the progress her son has been making coming to the reading program.  He's very shy and has trouble reading out loud, but recently he's been so much more confident!  He used to read into his shirt sleeve really quietly, you could  barely hear him.  He has just stopped doing that and not only is he reading better, but he is much more comfortable and confident when he reads!  He loves Isis, every week he picks HER as the dog he wants to read to that day.  It's so sweet and so rewarding.

Another surprising thing is visiting seniors at the nursing home.  Sometimes it means as much to a senior's family as it does to the senior.  When an elderly person has withdrawn and isn't showing interest or communicating much, Isis can often break the ice and get them engaged.  They pet her beautiful fur, they relax and come out of their shell and next thing you know they're talking about their childhood dog.  As important as this is to a senior, sometimes it means even more to the family.  To see their loved one interacting again can mean so much!

7. Do you have any goals with Isis as to where you would like to go with her work, any other type of therapy you would like to see her in?

Yes, I am hoping we can do something to help our military Veterans.  I'd love to volunteer either at a Veteran's hospital or somehow for the Wounded Warriors project.  I'm currently looking for an opportunity to do so in the Phoenix area.

therapy dog helps kids
Isis at the kids learning program
*Note the book getting Healthy With Harley - book from fivesibesmom
8. What would your top 3 pros be in working with dog therapy? Any cons?

The pros are definitely how being a Therapy Dog team helps others.  There's nothing more rewarding than working together with your dog to help someone else.   Meeting a child who is having difficulty reading, a senior citizen who is feeling alone and depressed, or college students who are stressed out and need a break, and walking away knowing that you've made a difference is such a great feeling! 

The bond you create with your dog when you do this kind of work together brings you even closer.  When I put her Therapy Dog vest on and say to Isis "Are you ready to go to work!?" I feel like she really understands! 

Another side benefit is that it keeps your dog highly socialized, continually meeting and relating to new people and situation, it continually builds her skill level and her ability to help people.

9. For anyone interested in training their dog to work in therapy, what would be the biggest piece of advice you could give them?

First and foremost know your dog!  A Therapy Dog doesn't need to do fancy tricks or be super smart but they must have a gentle nature and temperament.  Secondly they must be well trained to obey your basic commands of Sit, Down, STAY,  and Leave It.  If your dog has ever bitten another dog or a person I would probably not pursue Therapy Dog work.  If your dog has anxiety meeting new people or being out in public, you should work on that before thinking about Therapy Dog work.  

10. Finally, what is the go to place for someone to research if they are interested in training their dog to do therapy work?  

Definitely sign up with an organization that will offer you ongoing support and resources; a place to turn to for information or with questions or concerns.  They should have an established reputation and - this may sound slightly offputting - they should include some level of insurance coverage for members just in case anything happens.  For example, if your dog somehow injures someone during a visit it's important to know there is some level of insurance protection for you.

I signed on with Pet Partners (a.k.a Delta Society) because they are the most recognized and they have a strong reputation in the field.  I know people who have signed up with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) and had positive experiences.  Do the research on a few organizations.  Know their reputation, what they offer, and also know the cost of becoming a team and any ongoing costs.  Isis and I have to be re-evaluated every two years by Pet Partners.  There are fees to Pet Partners and a fee to a Certified Pet Partners Evaluator. 
 Pet Partners' web site is www.petpartners.org.  TDI's web site is www.tdi-dog.org

Therapy dog
Isis at a stress busting event at collage!

I would like to personally thank Cathy and Isis for participating in our interview and everything they do to help both kids and adults. You do fabulous work and are an inspiration to all of us

These are some of my favorite links for you all to check out 
straight from Cathy's blog : 


Before you all head out, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of my readers!
On Saturday, I took part in the Pet Bloggers Challenge.
You all left me such thoughtful, beautiful comments I was overwhelmed. 
I appreciate every single one of you, and your words mean so much to me.
I am very glad you all love this blog, I put my heart and soul into it! 


See you tomorrow :)


42 comments:

  1. Isis is so pretty!! That was a great interview! I honestly believe that the work therapy dogs do is so important!! Great job, Cathy and Isis!! <3

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    1. It is definitely important and helps so many people in the world!

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  2. Therapy dogs really are so very important! When my mother was in a home for Alzheimer's patients, she always lit up when the therapy dogs came for a visit! She didn't look forward to much of anything towards the end, but that golden retriever always cheered her up! She even loved the therapy cat that they had!!

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    1. Aw that is a wonderful story. Therapy dogs can make such a difference!

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  3. Great interview and Isis is a gem. Nice to be back. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. Isn't she? She really is a sweetheart!
      Glad to have you back Molly!

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  4. Very nice interview. Mom says we are already therapy dogs. Bailie and I have our CGC titles, and we provide, jump and lick therapy to anyone we meet that would like some, or even those who don't want some. We can't help it, passing out kisses comes naturally to us. It is wonderful to hear of huskies who are so well behaved.

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    1. hahaha!!!! I bet you do a fabulous job!!

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  5. We think what Isis does is awesome! Thanks for this interview. And there are even therapy cats...of course, we are not.

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    1. Yes there are!!! Therapy cats and dogs do such important works!

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  6. Oh my....Isis is beautiful (on the outside as well as on the inside - what a heart for therapy work)! This was a great post! Well done!
    Oz

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    1. Thanks Oz. She is a fabulous dog and her mom is a wonderful lady as well!

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  7. Isis is a clever an pretty dog.

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  8. Love hearing about therapy dogs and Isis seems like a doll! Atka and I are still working on preparing for our therapy dog test. He needs to get out of the puppy stage a bit first. Not everyone likes a 115 pound puppy crawling into their lap ;)

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    Replies
    1. hahahaha! No, not everyone! I do though!!!

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  9. I really enjoyed reading more about the therapy work and Isis looks like she enjoys it as much as Cathy does. They make a great team and bring a lot of smiles to people. Nice!

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    1. They do make a fabulous team! They do amazing therapy work together!

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  10. Every time I've been out to wait for a relative to come out of a surgical procedure at Mayo there is always a lady with her therapy dog who visits each of the waiting relatives to help give them a smile and reduce their tension. IT does indeed work. Great interview.

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    1. Your right, it definitely works! I have read so many different statements on how much therapy pets have worked for people. I think it's wonderful!

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  11. Lovely interview. I really enjoyed it. Especially since, as you pointed out, huskies are a less common breed in therapy work.

    I suspect Honey would be a good therapy dog but I wouldn't be a good therapy human partner. I guess I'll just have to keep her therapizing for myself. :)

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    1. Yes they are. I would love to get into therapy work myself, however I simply have no time unfortunately.

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  12. Isis and Cathy sound like such a great team, doing wonderful things! Therapy dogs are the best, and their people put a lot of work into it as well. I especially love the reading programs for children, I've heard over and over how much dogs can help this kids learn to read.
    Great interview, Jenna!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. It truly does!
      It is amazing the amount of help a therapy dog can provide! I SO enjoyed doing this review and learning more about this work, so i'm glad you enjoyed it too!

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  13. Hummmmmm, we have seen lots of therapy pups, but never a Huskie, Isis gald you came alon to make peoples lives have a little happiness it them, you one pretty Gal!

    The Mad Scots

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    1. I know. With a huskies strong will and stubbornness it can be more difficult to train them to be therapy dogs. But with lots of love and consistency it can be done!

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  14. Jenna, thank you so much for interviewing me for your blog - Isis and I are very honored! You did such a great job on the post! Thank you to everyone who left such nice comments too, we really appreciate that!
    Love & Biscuits to all,
    Cathy & Isis (and little Phoebe too!)
    www.dogsluvusandweluvthem.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for participating in the interview CathY! You are a huge inspiration to so many people!
      Keep up the fabulous work!

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  15. Great innerview! Therapy dogs and cats are so important.

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  16. Great post and interview. I have two therapy dogs also and it is such a joy you get from your visits. Thanks Isis for doing what you are doing to help others out

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  17. Cathy is so amazing and I love her dogs! Isis is beautiful. Therapy dogs are such a wonderful help to so many people. Thanks for sharing her story. I always read her blog posts! ♥

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    1. Yes they are. I am a huge fan of Cathy's blog and the work her and Isis do!

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  18. Isis and her human do a wonderful thing!

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  19. This was a great interview! I want Harmony to train as a therapy dog. She is also very sweet and gentle and loves to be hugged. Now I know what it wound take to get her there. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Your very welcome and I wish you the best of luck!!!

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  20. It was nice to learn more about Isis.

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    Replies
    1. She is a wonderful pup! And her human too!

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