Monday, October 7, 2013

Preparing to Turn Our Pet into a Therapy Dog

We have been playing with the idea of training Rikki as a therapy dog when we learned that her mother and older brother were both working therapy dogs. That was a few weeks after bringing her home in 2011.

Rikki, taking a break :-)
After which, we learned that her twin brother (I call him her twin brother because their mother had only two litters), was also adopted by a special child with special needs. Lennie (Rikki's twin)  is being trained as a therapy/companion dog, too.

We have not stopped contemplating about the idea. Actually, the whole family was keen on turning our pet into a therapy dog but when I talked to somebody knowledgeable, she recommended that we enjoy our time with Rikki first. So, we did!

Then last winter, Rikki and my husband was given the chance to join a training for rescue dogs. Both of them enjoyed their time, they have bonded with the group (both human and fur friends). But summer time means busy time in our gardens. My husband realized he could not keep up with all the regular trainings and the extra community services involved. (It's not only the gardens needing his time and attention, but the girls and his wife, too :-D) He had to give up the rescue training with a heavy heart.

But this time, I think Rikki is ripe. I think it is time because I am ripe, too. We are almost ready. We are now preparing to turn Rikki into a therapy dog.

It would not be simple. There are some things to consider and to know and to talk about...

- Rikki underwent obedience courses and passed
- She is a very social and friendly dog
- She loves people, she loves dogs (she hates cats, though)
- She enjoys learning tricks
- She loves the outdoors and has been exposed to crowds through our regular visits to festivals, etc.
- I have been reading information about therapy dogs and the appropriate trainings
- I have been watching youtube videos of dog trainings (Some I have already tried to teach Rikki)
- I have been searching about possible therapy dog trainings near our area
- I have been checking the seminar prices, and possible extra needs (we have to budget, too!)
- I have been talking to an acquiantance who has been into dog therapy for years
- I plan to ask for a possible 'on-the-job' exposure on therapy dogs
- The family has continuously been discussing our plans to turn Rikki into a therapy dog
- The family has been asked how they would want to participate each
- The family has been talking about training schedules and other possible mom-away-from-home scenarios

I am sure there are other things to consider but these are in my list for now.

Why am I interested in doing this? Actually, Rikki is already a therapy dog because the very first reason we got her was to comfort the girls after their heartbreaking parting with our very first dog, Candy, in the Philippines. They still miss Candy but they have stopped crying everytime they would think about Candy after having Rikki around. It was also the time when my husband was recovering from prostate cancer. Having Rikki at home made him look at the bright side of things. Having Rikki at home got the whole family to go out more and enjoy the fresh air longer.

I would love to share the joy of Rikki to those who need the magic of wet kisses most.

If there's anybody out there who could give some tips, I would appreciate your comments and suggestions!

P.S. I am planning to buy this book, and this book. Would anyone recommend other books or internet sites, too? Thanks!

No comments: