Sunday, January 25, 2009

Safe Harbor

I finished 30 hours of volunteer training yesterday with Safe Harbor, our local domestic violence organization. The training was required before I could talk with staff about creating a therapy dog program there. I hope to meet with them in February to discuss possibilities.

As I went through the training, I jotted down possible scenarios for using our dogs - especially with kids. They are:
  • support groups
  • court visits
  • outreach to teens

And, finally, the shelter might be a great place for a facility dog. I hope staff has more ideas. Some of them seemed excited about creating these kinds of opportunities.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Year of the Therapy Dog

As noted in an earlier posting, my goal this year is to focus on therapy dogs and their handlers and creating the appropriate organization and process to support them. In addition, I want to expand the reach of therapy dogs in our community. To attain these goals, I am letting go of some things to make room in my life for others.

Beginning in mid-February, I will no longer teach obedience classes at the Dude Ranch. Continuing education for you and your dog(s) will still be available. As always I will provide private training and behavior modification consultations. I will also offer group training to those who wish to become therapy dog handlers. I am creating a new training model as I go and I encourage you to make suggestions ... to be part of the process.

If you have been a student of mine, thank you. I have learned from each and every one of you and your dogs.

And finally, remember this: therapy dogs change lives one visit at a time. Consider giving of your time to make magic happen.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


My focus as a dog trainer in 2009 will be therapy dog teams.

My goal is to create relationships with facilities and organizations where therapy dogs have never gone before. I am meeting with staff at St. Joseph's Villa next week to discuss the many possibilities for us and our dogs.

I hope to take the 30 hours of required training for volunteers at the local domestic violence shelter this month. Once that is accomplished, I can guide anyone interested in this opportunity to the appropriate people.

To my knowledge, neither of these places has an existing therapy dog program. Both have expressed a great deal of interest in our dogs.

As I moved through the process of therapy dog work with Murphy and my students and their dogs, I realized that there is something missing. We train our dogs, we test with our dogs, we get ourselves registered with one of the national organizations, and then what? We go out in the world as therapy dog teams with no guidance or support. Another goal for 2009 is to create a support organization for therapy dog teams. I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.

For now, the very happiest of new years to everyone. Hugs to all the poochies.