Therapy Dogs??

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Postby Maryellen » January 11th, 2006, 3:16 pm

Does anyone do pet therapy with their pit bulls? IF so, please post about where you go, why you got started into it, what determined your dog was therapy worthy?

I do pet therapy with my pitx Rufus. We go to the local hospital every saturday and the local nursing home once a month. I decided to do therapy with him because while we were taking regular obedience lessons my trainer kept saying with his temperment he would make an excellent therapy dog(he is a larvae). So i kept him in obedience training until he hit 2 years old.. at 1 1/2 years old we took the AKC CGC and passed, and the tester told me again, he would be great for therapy work.. i decided to find out about the therapy test, and read it, and figured he could pass. We took the therapy test almost 2 years ago, and he and i have been visiting now for almost 2 years (april is our 2year anniversary) .. we are now starting with the READ program at a school near me, the kids are mentally and developed challenged, and they read to the dogs.. our first visit is this coming friday.. Rufus is a very laid back pitx, and he loves to fall asleep in the patients laps if they let him. his laid back and quietness pleases alot of patients.. We visit the mental health ward and the rehab at the local hospital, and the nursing home with the elderly patients. He gets very excited when i say lets go do therapy work.. he knows which patients need more or less from him, and he is very quiet when he is working..I like the fact that people see him and say, wow, i never knew a pit bull could do therapy work- so i tell them that the breed is excellent for therapy work. i figure if i can change one persons mind at a time that will work.
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Postby Patch O' Pits » January 19th, 2006, 10:23 pm

We mostly work on the oncology floor at the Hospital but have done home visiits and gone to schools as well
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Postby mnp13 » January 19th, 2006, 10:34 pm

Yup!!

Here's the beginning of Ruby's story... I have to update her website anyway, so I'll ad the rest later!

Ruby began doing unofficial therapy work soon after I got her. My grandfather was living in a nursing home and they only required proof of vaccinations for her to be allowed in the building. The first visit or two she was wary of all of the new smells and sights of nursing home life. After that she was an old pro. She got plenty of attention from the residents, as most people of my grandfather's generation think of the Pit Bull as a family dog or farm dog.

In the spring of 2004, we took the CGC/TDI class at DOTCORNY with my boyfriend and his dog Connor. Ruby earned her therapy dog certification from Therapy Dogs International. Therapy dogs certified through TDI are easily spotted by their red collars and leashes and blue and yellow tags. Since that time we have done a good deal of therapy work both on our own and with other groups.

We have had a number of memorable therapy visits over the past year, in spring 2004, we went to my niece Kathleen's second grade class. We talked about dog safety, the proper ways to approach a new dog and how to act around dogs. Even after all of that, the most exciting part of the visit for the kids was Ruby jumping about 4 1/2 feet onto the stage in the gym. They were VERY impressed with this feat and asked to see it over and over.

In November, 2004, we visited two pre-Kindergarden classes. Ruby met 46 three and four year olds in about an hour and a half. Like the second graders, they thought Ruby's 'trick' of jumping on tables was just great. Our only 'challenge' on that visit was the guinea pigs in each class. After about five minutes of trying to distract her I gave up and asked the teachers to remove the cage... she just wanted to 'play' with it!!

In December, 2004 we participated in 'Fantasy Flight', an event held for local children. Some of the kids got to ride in an airplane, there were crafts, the County Executive read The Christmas Story, a local cheerleading team performed, and Santa arrived by helecopter! There were eight therapy dog teams in attendance.

(more to come...)
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Postby pblove » January 20th, 2006, 9:49 pm

We're woorking on gettng our certification now.
Hopefully, will be able to share stories with you all soon. :)
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Postby Patch O' Pits » January 20th, 2006, 11:18 pm

pblove wrote:We're woorking on gettng our certification now.
Hopefully, will be able to share stories with you all soon. :)
That is great! Good luck and keep us posted :P
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Postby Jesseca » February 2nd, 2006, 2:48 pm

I would love to do this with Summer. What would be the best way to start out?
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Postby Maryellen » February 2nd, 2006, 3:19 pm

how is summer with other dogs, cats/ rabbits children, yelling adults, banging pots and pans, stuff like that?? if she is good with all that, you can go onto the sites listed to see what the actual test involves, and find a school in your area that gives the therapy test.. basically your dog has to be bomb proof, as elderly people are rough sometimes, kids can be loud, jerky, quick, etc.. does summer do good in public, at parks etc?? you basically see if her temperment will be ok, then go to the next step..

For those interested in obtaining your therapy dog title and working your bullies.. these are the 3 major Therapy Dog Groups

Delta Society http://www.deltasociety.org/VolunteerAboutAbout.htm

Therapy Dogs International http://www.tdi-dog.org/

Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs http://www.golden-dogs.org
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Postby Jesseca » February 2nd, 2006, 3:22 pm

Summer is great with all of it. I have an 18 month old son who thinks he's a bulldozer. :D She thinks everyone is her friend, I don't think I've ever heard her bark. She is rock solid, in my opinion. :D
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Postby Maryellen » February 2nd, 2006, 3:25 pm

in that case, see how she does with umbrellas, loud noises, and go online and find a therapy group near you that is giving the test.. if the 3 above are not near you, just google in therapy dogs and see what comes up by your area.. some groups want the dog to have the AKC CGC as well, every group is different
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Postby SisMorphine » February 2nd, 2006, 3:42 pm

I'm so jealous of all of you!!

I was hoping to be able to do therapy work with my Greyhound, but it does not seem that will ever be the case. Though he does have a bomb proof temperment, he is not overly warm to strangers outside of the house, and will very often refuse to look in their direction applying the "if I can't see it, it doesn't exist" philosphy. Most Greyhound owners call this being aloof . . . I just say he's being an @$$#*!^. He would never be aggressive, though. He is not a shy dog, just a snob. (It's a hard temperment to describe unless you've known a sighthound very well.)

Granted, if patients came to my house that would be a whole different story. They'd have an attentive shadow who would fall asleep in their laps if they sat down. He just sucks in public places when it comes to not ignoring people. Stubborn dog.

That's why my next dog will be a bully. Friendly to a fault. Fabulous for therapy work.
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Postby DemoDick » February 3rd, 2006, 11:41 am

Connor is a retired therapy dog. I put a TDI on him and at about his third therapy visit he tried to take a bicep bite on a teenager wearing a puffy winter coat and acting like a spastic Solid Gold Dancer. Thank God no one (including the kid) saw that.

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Postby mnp13 » February 3rd, 2006, 11:43 am

SisMorphine wrote:I was hoping to be able to do therapy work with my Greyhound, but it does not seem that will ever be the case. Though he does have a bomb proof temperment, he is not overly warm to strangers outside of the house, and will very often refuse to look in their direction applying the "if I can't see it, it doesn't exist" philosphy. Most Greyhound owners call this being aloof . . . I just say he's being an @$$#*!^. He would never be aggressive, though. He is not a shy dog, just a snob. (It's a hard temperment to describe unless you've known a sighthound very well.)


That's how Ruby is a lot of the time, and she does just fine on therapy visits. Will he pay attention to someone if they have a treat of some sort?

It wouldn't hurt to see if he passes the tests and then try a few low key visits.
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Postby Maryellen » February 3rd, 2006, 11:50 am

i do therapy with a bunch of dogs.. one sits on its owners lap the entire time and doesnt interact with the patients, the other dog lays on a table and has the people come up to him, and then rufus, who has to lay in someones lap...

just because your greyhound isnt super friendly to everyone doesnt mean he cant be a therapy dog.. ALOT of people want to just pet the dog a few times, and talk to the human more... the dogs are more of a comfort zone.. if your grey is bombproof, then take the therapy dog test, and see how he does at a visit.. the visits are only an hour long, and they tell you to start out at like 20 minutes at first and gradually increase the stay.. some patients wont pet him. some will.. most will just want the human company to talk too.. i think you should take the therapy test with your grey, you might be suprised at how well he does at therapy...
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Postby mnp13 » February 3rd, 2006, 12:43 pm

Ruby spends a lot of time at the psyche center laying on the floor ignoring people while they talk my ear off. a good deal of pet therapy is giving the people there something to talk about. When I was going in to visit my Grandfather, my mom said he would talk about Ruby for about a week afterwards.

Ruby's final visit with my grandfather gave me the opportunity to have a few minutes of actual lucid conversation with him in the last weeks before he passed away. I was chattering away to him as usual, and asked if he'd like to see Ruby's new collar and tags. They weren't new, but they are bright and I thought maybe he'd be able to see them. His eyes actually focused and he was 'there'. It was a short conversation, but she was the catalist for it.

I'm excited about what happened at the Psyche center this past Wednesday. The Doctors and therapists really like Ruby and one of them asked if I would be willing to go back into the patient's rooms and visit with a woman who hasn't left her room in weeks. Normally no visitors are allowed back in the room areas and that includes volunteers. They want to bend the rules and see if they can get her interested in Ruby enough to maybe get her out of the room for an hour a week.

They have commented that she is much less exhuberent than the other dogs that come in, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. The quiet, more reserved people seem to like her a lot because she isn't all wild and wiggle butt.

I do have to remember a rag though. One of the residents drools a lot, but he is finally interacting with Ruby and sometimes, well, she gets drooled on. It's gross, but what can you do?

I've brought my Pit Bull cards in a few times to play euchar, and they ask to use my cards almost every week. We get to talk about the dogs on them as well.
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