Kentuckiana Shetland Sheepdog Club
What is Pet Therapy? At the most basic level, it is animal assisted visits with people in need of comfort. Visits are done as a team with the pet and owner both being an integral part of a successful visit. A few of the places you’ll find teams visiting are: schools, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional institutions, rehabilitation centers, community centers, offices, and in hospice settings. Most facilities require that teams be certified through a formal application and evaluation process (although sometimes Sheltie owners make a visit just as a friend if the facility allows). Pet Therapy requires a dog that knows basic obedience skills and is confident in unusual or unfamiliar situations. Those are skills can be taught and learned. More importantly, pet therapy requires a dog who makes connections, is gentle, enjoys being patted, touched, and yes – loved. Those traits are part of personality and temperament; every dog will not make a good therapy dog.
One day on a nursing home visit with my shelties Polly and Skye, we encountered an elderly woman in a wheel chair crying as she sat alone in a hallway. Polly and Skye promptly surrounded her with heads in her lap and paws on her chair. I told her she now had two step dogs. She smiled. I’ve never been so proud of my dogs as at that moment.
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