Since it is now September, I started thinking about back-to-school time. That made me think that Topo and Bowie should go back to obedience school and that made me think how I wish they could be therapy dogs.
Then that made me wonder if I know any therapy dogs. What is the process? And, most importantly, can I get a dog to write my column for me? Then I remembered that our pal C.C. in New Jersey could tell us! So, here is C.C. with her story:
My name is C.C., and I am a therapy dog. 'What is a therapy dog?,' you ask. Well, I'll tell you; when I was a puppy, my mother took me to basic obedience school. She did very well, so I let her take me to three more levels of obedience. You don't need that much to be a therapy dog, but I had to keep my mother busy!
Anyway, after I graduated and got my diplomas, I heard about visiting old people in nursing homes and told my mother I wanted to do that. She contacted the local animal shelter and found out that they offered testing to become a therapy dog through the Delta Society. We took the test and passed. I had to listen to my mother when she told me to sit, stay, down and come. Then I had to walk nicely on a leash and sit when my mother stopped walking. I had to walk through a noisy crowd; let a lot of people pet me at once; and let a stranger touch me all over and hug me. I also had to approach a person in a wheelchair, another who was using crutches and another who was using a walker. The last part of the test was the toughest; I had to stay in the room with strangers for two minutes while my mother went outside. ( The shelter now does its own variation of the test, and my mother doesn't have to leave me with the strangers ) . It wasn't very hard at all, and I soon started visiting nursing homes.
After a while, I decided I wanted a change, so I visited a hospital where I saw people in the psychiatric ( which was fun because I was in a large room and was off the leash ) , pediatric and post-surgical wards. I liked the variety at that hospital. Now, I visit a hospital that is closer to where I live, but they only allow us in the pediatric ward. I would like to visit other wards, but the doctors who don't like dogs tried to keep us out of the hospital completely, so I guess I have to be satisfied with just visiting the children. If only those doctors would see the smiles we therapy dogs bring to the patients, I bet they'd change their minds. Oh, yeah—I bring my mother with me on the visits; I may be good at obedience, but I can't reach the pedals to drive the car!
Sept 16: Mutt Strut 2006, Chicago Canine Rescue, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Lincoln Park Savings Bank, 3234 N. Damen, $25/$30 at the door. There will be live music, contests and prizes, games, food and drinks; the 2007 Dog Search Contest; and Chicago Canine Rescue dogs available for adoption.
Sept 16: Collars & Scents Adoption Event, Ravenswood Bank, 2300 W. Lawrence. The Anti-Cruelty Society and many other agencies will have dogs for adoption.