Bella Trains For A New Job: Therapy Dog, Part 2
Ever since I became the Pombassador for Southern California Pomeranian Rescue, I have gotten used to lots of people petting me and wanting to hold me. I’ve been a pretty good sport about it, and I like it when people are nice and want me to sit on their laps. Now that I am in Therapy Dog training there is a whole new world that I am being introduced to. Usually when I am out and about at a public event like a Pet Expo or a charity fundraiser, people can walk up to me for a pet and a hug; most of them are walking on their own with a few being in wheelchairs. For the most part, they are well and able to get around. Being a Therapy Dog is very different and I had my first real time exposure to a different world today, where the people are not well and are in a skilled nursing facility. They are not so sick that they require the level of care that one gets when one is in the hospital, but they are still not well enough to be on their own and need an intermediate level of care and rehabilitation before they can go home. Today my on-the-job training was at Lancaster Healthcare Center in Lancaster California.
The outside temperature was high enough to melt lava, so I was very glad to get inside where it was much cooler. I wasn’t my best when we were outside, but I was much happier when we went inside the building. The testing included some basic obedience skills: walking on a loosely held leash, turning, and halting. I had to show that I was not distracted by people rushing by me, that I didn’t mind having my head or feet touched, and that I was not upset by another dog in my space.
Mommy was tested too: she had to show that she was in control, and she had to praise me for doing good–I think I could use a bit more praise. As we walked through the corridor, we learned some basic etiquette: don’t hog the corridor and make it difficult for people to walk by, quickly observe if patients were asleep and don’t disturb them, and watch for the clues that would indicate a room is off limits because of isolation. There is a strong emphasis placed on my safety as Mommy’s priority concern and she never will be required to put me in any situation that might be dangerous. And don’t interrupt a Bingo Game!!
So my first training session concluded and Mommy will be setting another appointment next week for another session at a different location. I had a fun day even though the sidewalk was melting because it was so hot; of course I get carried everywhere anyway so my precious little Pomeranian feet don’t get burned on the hot concrete and asphalt.
If being a Therapy Dog sounds like something that interest you, then I would encourage you to ask your pawrents to get you a copy of Dr. Dawn’s book “The Power Of Wagging Tails” and read it to you as you go through your training. It is helping Mommy to understand so much more about this adventure that we have embarked on.
To be continued….