I have learned over the years that each of my Therapy Dogs has had a different way of working. Each has excelled in his or her own special way.
Jewel was my first certified Therapy Dog. She was one of the moms from a puppy mill case that took in 97 dogs but ended up with 105 after puppies were born. Jewel was a color headed white, full sized collie. I named her Jewel because her beautiful sable spots looked like jewels on her white coat. She was a sweetheart. Her method of providing comfort was to stand quietly while she was petted. Sometimes she would lay down with a person who wasn’t ambulatory. You could feel the gentleness emanate from her.
The photo above is my Trevor. He was an abandonment case that I took in. He came to me as an adult, but weighing only about 20 lbs. At his full weight he was 32 lbs. Trevor was a natural born Therapy Dog. He could do the job without me. He would go to people I didn’t even see, because he sensed that they needed him. He could work a room like I’ve never seen. What a gentle soul he was.
Duncan, above, trained and was certified as a Therapy Dog the same year as Trevor. I was Duncan’s third home by the time he was 4 months old. He was quite the handful and continued to be for many years. Duncan was a good Therapy Dog and brought joy to many. Duncan was different though in that he did the work because I asked him to and it made me happy. Whatever made me happy, made Duncan happy.
That brings us to my currently certified Therapy Dog, Shelby. She is a rescue dog whose original owners purchased her from a flea market. When she was 18 months old, they decided that she was too rambunctious. Hello, is that not the definition of a teenage puppy? Shelby is a tireless worker and has a work ethic that doesn’t quit. She can greet and visit with people for hours. Shelby is a good Therapy Dog because she enjoys working, and working with mom is even better. She is a joyful worker.
There are many ways that a dog can approach therapy work. And more than one way to be a success at it. As long as the method leads to happiness, the goal is achieved!