Who wants to go to summer school?
No one seemed to mind today because in addition to the 100 students there were four dogs in class!
The dogs were part of a program to encourage reading of non-fiction subject matter and the subject was therapy dogs and service dogs.
Tons of reading was sent ahead by the presenters. The students read material about what therapy dogs are and how they are trained and tested. They read about the kinds of work they do and areas in which they make the most impact.
Service dog information was also sent ahead. What is the Minimum Standards for Service Dogs, how is the Public Access Test conducted and why, what is the difference between therapy and service dogs?
Are they the same?The students learned that therapy dogs are not service dogs and should not be represented as such. Therapy dogs cannot be brought into restaurants or any establishment that says no Pets Allowed. They also learned about animals other than dogs that perform therapy work, such as cats, horses, guinea pigs.
Therapy dogs work with their owners as volunteers to help others by performing Animal-Assisted Activities (such as visiting in hospitals) or Animal-Assisted Therapy (occupational or physical therapy, Response to Intervention programs, etc.)All of the therapy dogs were members of Delta Pet Partners.
They learned that service animals on the other hand have to be dogs, or in some cases miniature horses performing as guide animals. They learned that service dogs must perform specific tasks or alerts that lessen a specific disability of their owner. It is not enough that they make their owner “feel better” by cuddling, kissing or licking when they are not feeling well. The dogs must perform actual tasks in Response to Commands or on Alert beyond what a loving pet can do.
They learned that service dogs are permitted in all places their owner needs to be as that person needs that dog to live their life independently and fully.
The students met several dogs, one of which is a service dog. They had very intelligent questions for the owners and had a great time interacting with the dogs. They saw part of a Pet Partners evaluation and also saw some of the Public Access Test conducted.
Then the students split up into groups and reads stories about the dogs they just met.
The presenters donated three books for the students to keep in their library to further their interest in reading non-fiction: Paws & Effect by Sharon Saxson, Angel on a Leash by David Frei and of course Coco the Love Dog.
The students were motivated to read non-fiction about these topics and had already reserved several of the books given to the library upon the dogs’ departure. SUCCESS!