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Old 03.02.2019, 09:50
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Therapy dog

Hello everyone,

I’ve seen numerous stories on therapy animals and this morning I watched one of a horse. For some reason, seeing this majestic animal visit hospitals and bring joy and serenity to the elderly and children, made me emotional and I felt a calling to do something.

I’ve always had dogs in my life and they’ve all been well tempered, good dogs but the one we welcomed a year ago, is special. He’s incredibly friendly, and would literally walk up to anyone wagging his tail like crazy. He makes friends and strangers laugh and smile. He’s incredibly gentle with children and babies. (basically loves every living being, cats, cows and horses etc)
I know he will be a perfect therapy dog and I would love to volunteer bringing him to the elderly homes or children with disabilities. Or hospitals if they allow this in Switzerland.

He is a chihuahua, so he’s easy to carry. My next door lady is an elderly widow struggling with dementia and sometimes knocks on our door and asks if she can cuddle our little dog - she closes her eyes when she holds him up her chest. If this brief moment makes her so happy - that makes me happy.

So, does anyone know the rules and regulations about your dog getting licensed as such? Also, how does one go about finding these places that would be happy to have a friendly small dog put a smile on their patients’ or residents faces?

Thanks in advance and wishing you a cozy, snowy Sunday
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Old 03.02.2019, 10:13
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Re: Therapy dog

You can start here:

http://www.therapiehunde.ch/en/
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Old 03.02.2019, 10:13
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Re: Therapy dog

Therapy dogs are a godsend (doGsend?) to so many people - good on ya!

The level of involvement you and your dog are able to give might influence which direction you go:

You could start here, VTHS, the Verein Therapie Hunde Schweiz:
http://www.therapiehunde.ch/en/

Also, the Blindenhundschule Allschwil (in BL) runs a Sozialhunde, a subset of therapy dog, program. One former EFer, Argus, wrote several posts describing her experiences. IIRC, her dog orignially trained as a guide dog, but switched to therapy dog work. You might look for her posts on the subject.
http://www.blindenhundeschule.ch/sozialhunde.html

For those in the French speaking parts, Le Copain is a good starting place:
http://www.lecopain.ch/fr/contact.html

(All have English content on their sites, but more info in local languages)


---

The skills you and your dog need might vary depending on your area of interest. For instance, therapy dogs brought invaluable help and comfort to my father, an Alzheimer's patient. Those dogs had Alzheimer's-specific training, due to the need to remain unreactive to sudden behavior changes, etc. Dogs who visit children must, of course, be child-friendly - and size and appearance do play a part. Dogs who visit seniors need to be able to cope with various mobility appliances. Dogs who do hospice care need a certain kind of calm. I would imagine one of the above organizations would advise you as to possibilities.

It goes without saying: The area you and your dog choose must be one that is primarily of interest to you, one where you yourself feel quite comfortable.

---

One of the dogs in our Hundeschule is in 'pre-training' to enter a therapy dog program. He is an adolescent, still in basic training - but his owner has been given a set of goals from the organization he is working with that the dog needs to meet prior to being considered for the program. Some of these are training goals, some are more character/personality oriented. If you are currently in a Hundeschule, you might also ask your trainer about the various roads to therapy dog work, and how he or she might help prepare you.


All the best to you and your dog - this is much needed, very valuable work.
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Old 03.02.2019, 10:27
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Re: Therapy dog

Thank you Roegner and Meloncollie! Great links and information

Very good points to consider that meloncollie has pointed out, to see what type of therapy our dog would be best at. He will calmly lay in people’s laps, and be held by anyone. He loves to gives kisses and oh my people just love it.

It’s a perfect stay-home-and-warm Sunday, so going to read through your links!
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Old 03.02.2019, 10:40
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Re: Therapy dog

A friend of mine does that for a living, the dogs are specially trained from pups.

Tom
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Old 03.02.2019, 11:15
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Re: Therapy dog

Emma is a great therapy dog. We have the local elderly and OAP home for lunch and activities 1 x a month (40 of them lol) - and Emma is always the star of the day. She has her favourites now- the ones who will like her to sit on their lap. So now I take her to the OAP home from time to time with her- and she makes the day of a few residents.
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Old 03.02.2019, 12:25
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Re: Therapy dog

So it seems like the dog needs to be minimum 2 years old, so we’ll need to wait another half year to be able enroll therapy dog training but that also gives me time to do more proper research - and in the meantime still enjoy our dog making people happy in our daily life

Would love to hear stories of others who have had their dogs trained as a therapy dog or experiences with such dogs.
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Old 03.02.2019, 13:30
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Re: Therapy dog

This thread has made my day! Good luck with your project Summergirl - your doggie sounds absolutely gorgeous, and I'm sure he will continue to bring smiles to many peoples' faces!
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Old 03.02.2019, 20:20
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Re: Therapy dog

The things you learn browsing EF...

On the 'Puppy Classes' thread, Countrybumpkin linked to Wolfsrudel, a dog school in the Zug area. Curious, I took a peek at their site - and saw they offer a 'social dog' program. This might be the kind of thing you are looking for to get involved in therapy work.

http://www.wolfsrudel.ch/social-dog.html

I have no personal experience, this is just info found on the way to something else.


---
Again, hats off to you and your pup - you are doing a very good thing.
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Old 04.02.2019, 10:11
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Re: Therapy dog

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Emma is a great therapy dog. We have the local elderly and OAP home for lunch and activities 1 x a month (40 of them lol) - and Emma is always the star of the day. She has her favourites now- the ones who will like her to sit on their lap. So now I take her to the OAP home from time to time with her- and she makes the day of a few residents.
40! Did you have Emma trained here in Switzerland? I have no problem communicating in German but when it comes to strong Swiss German, there are moments where it gets a little harder so interacting with Swiss elderly people would also even be good for my Swiss German

I just love the look on people's faces (young or old) when they touch an animal they are comfortable with <3
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Old 04.02.2019, 10:17
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Re: Therapy dog

This house used to be the Vicarage, so it has a second kitchen, very large room, at the back that used to be a stables, WCs and disapbled access, at the back of the house. When we bought, the community was distrought that they'd lost their 'Parish room'- so we've continued the tradition. I DON'T do the cooking btw.

Emma was not trained- that is just the was she is. We fostered her and her son for nearly 2 years- then the owners said they didn't want to even have them for short holidays when we go away. So Emma is now ours- as we couldn't take two, those lovely people just euthanazed the other ... sick. They just sent us a message on FB whilst we were on holiday will never ever forgive them

She is just so sweet and gentle- and perfect as a 'therapy' dog- just in her nature.

Last edited by Odile; 04.02.2019 at 12:29.
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Old 04.02.2019, 10:21
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Re: Therapy dog

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those lovely people just euthanazed the other
On what grounds? That's absolutely despicable.
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Old 04.02.2019, 10:33
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Re: Therapy dog

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On what grounds? That's absolutely despicable.


Couldn't agree with you more Clocker!!!
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Old 04.02.2019, 11:41
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Re: Therapy dog

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This thread has made my day! Good luck with your project Summergirl - your doggie sounds absolutely gorgeous, and I'm sure he will continue to bring smiles to many peoples' faces!
Thank you for your kind words Merrylegs!

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The things you learn browsing EF...

On the 'Puppy Classes' thread, Countrybumpkin linked to Wolfsrudel, a dog school in the Zug area. Curious, I took a peek at their site - and saw they offer a 'social dog' program. This might be the kind of thing you are looking for to get involved in therapy work.

http://www.wolfsrudel.ch/social-dog.html

I have no personal experience, this is just info found on the way to something else.


---
Again, hats off to you and your pup - you are doing a very good thing.
Thank you always for the numerous info meloncollie, you're the best, will have a look after work today!


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Emma was not trained- that is just the was she is. We fostered her and her son for nearly 2 years- then the owners said they didn't want to even have them for short holidays when we go away. So Emma is now ours- as we couldn't take two, those lovely people just euthanazed the other ... sick. They just sent us a message on FB whilst we were on holiday will never ever forgive them

She is just so sweet and gentle- and perfect as a 'therapy' dog- just in her nature.
Oh sorry, I meant, was she "certified" here? My understanding was that you need to get your dog certified (proof of appropriate character etc) for hospitals or homes to accept me & my dog to volunteer on a regular basis. My dog also won't need "special" training as he already has the characteristics he would need with children and elderly people. I need to read through all the websites more.

I cannot believe those people put the other dog to sleep like that. Makes me sad & angry at the same time...
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Old 04.02.2019, 12:26
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Re: Therapy dog

So... lunch time

The Therapy Dog website shows locations for trainings but unfortunately it is all during office hours which I cannot do as I work full time I also looked at the training content, and most of it my dog can already do.

Some things would not be suitable for him, due to his tiny size. For example (which were listed): stand in a busy lift, walk next to wheelchair etc. I mean, he CAN do these things, but he is 2.1kg, so when I go in a lift, I carry him as people may step on him as he is so small, he can walk next to a wheelchair, but with his size, it makes more sense he stays on the person's lap than on the ground where you'd need to heavily bend over to touch him.

I looked at some videos. He'd be the perfect dog for elderly people who'd want him on their laps or hold him. He would be great for children with disabilities who'd get happy with a lick or two and being able to hold him. They can play with him throwing a toy and play fetch. He can do some tricks and people love to see this.

Just like Odile's Emma, my dog wouldn't need to be trained for this, as it's just his nature and he already does this. He listens well to my commands.

So - he won't need "training". Now wondering how to go about this as he would need some kind of proof....? And which homes to then approach?
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Old 04.02.2019, 12:28
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Re: Therapy dog

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Couldn't agree with you more Clocker!!!
On the grounds that they had (their words) 'outgrown them' and we said we could only take one.

Perhaps if you are not known personally by the institutions you'd like to visit with doglet- you may have to show some kind of qualification/training- I have no idea. In my region, I know staff at all the OAP homes, so would have no problem. I would ask to speak to the person who organise the social/craft, etc activities at the OAP homes near you, and see how they react.

Last edited by Odile; 04.02.2019 at 12:41.
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Old 04.02.2019, 13:11
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Re: Therapy dog

Thanks Odile, will try that route as well.

Also meloncollie, the link you sent re "social dog", that seems a good fit too so will send them an email.
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