Last updated: August 23. 2013 5:51PM - 164 Views

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1 How long have you been visiting people with a therapy dog? My first therapy dog was a shepherd named Bogart. A therapist friend of mine asked me to come visit some of her clients. That was probably in the mid-’90s — maybe 1993 or ’94.2 How long has your dog Bart been doing this? He’s been doing this since he got off the plane when he was 9 weeks of age. I carried him as a baby in to do visits. A dog has to be over a year old to take the therapy dog test, and since I couldn’t test my own dog, Bart was over a year old by the time I could get out of town and get the testing done.3 Tell me about Bart.His name is Bartholomew, but we call him Bart for short. He is 5 years old and is a harlequin Great Dane. He’s my second Great Dane. My first is Isabella; she is also a therapy dog. If she makes it to September, she’ll be 11 years old and that is quite a feat for a Great Dane. 4 What does it take to certify a therapy dog? It depends on the organization that you use. There are tons of therapy dog groups and each has their own guidelines. Around here, you mainly hear about Therapy Dogs International and Delta. The AKC now gives out a title for a therapy dog if you do 50 visits.5 What kind of dog makes a good therapy dog? The dog has to show no signs of any kind of aggression. They have to not be shy, but not overly exuberant either. You don’t want a dog that is jumping all over people. They have to have obedience training and have to be socialized. I got Bart in February and in March I took him to a St. Paddy’s Day parade. They have to be able to handle distractions and crowds. The dog has to enjoy what they do.6 Are there certain breeds that make good therapy dogs? Do Great Danes usually make good therapy dogs? Both of my Great Danes made good therapy dogs. I know there are other Great Danes that are therapy dogs, but it has more to do with the right temperament and the right training. Any dog can be a therapy dog if it has the right temperament.7 Where do you visit?On a regular basis, we visit Elmcroft Assisted Living, Van Crest in Delphos, Lima Manor and Golden Living. We have occasionally been to a place in Shawnee and in Cridersville. You don’t have to just go to nursing homes and places like that. There are all kinds of places for therapy dogs. 8 What’s the most challenging thing about visiting with a dog? I don’t really have any “challenges” because my dog is trained. I can handle him, and I enjoy doing it. It can be hard when you have visited with someone for a long time and they pass away. That is hard on you and your dog.9 Has anyone been afraid of Bart because of his size? Most of the time, the people freaked out are the employees. … The residents aren’t usually afraid at all. In fact, his size makes him very accessible for a person who is lying in bed to pet him.10 What’s the best thing about visiting with your dog? The best part is you think you are actually doing something to help someone — and you are — but it also rewards you. It takes your mind off of problems you have.

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