People are often surprised when they learn that the Delta Pet Partner Workshop is for handlers without their animals. How can you learn to be a therapy team without your animal in the class?
Well, we expect handlers to take positive training classes with a reputable trainer for the animal part. Their dog must have solid basic obedience and good manners and be able to listen to their owner at all times. They need to be calm and steady and reliable. They need to truly want to work and be people-centric. They need all these skills, but Pet Partners is not a dog training organization.
So we ask that interested teams either take a course on their own or find a trainer who understands the Pet Partner method of handling, such as someone who is a Pet Partner volunteer themselves. In Las Vegas, I am the only Pet Partner licensed Instructor and Evaluator as well as a dog trainer so my classes are all geared towards learning the Pet Partner way and being on the path to therapy work.
I believe every pet should be as well mannered and comfortable as a working dog.
But for Pet Partners teams to be truly successful, the human end of the leash needs to understand what it means to be a responsible therapy team with your animal.
The human needs to be knowledgeable about all the various types of populations and environments they may find themselves in. They need to understand their animal so much more than the average pet owner.
How does their dog signal he is stressed or needs to go to the bathroom even?
How does his dog communicate he is tired, being pushed too far or just done?
How does he know when his dog is having the time of his life?
It is the human end of the leash that interacts with the clients and guides their dog.
It is the human who is the vehicle for the healing their dog can bring about.
It is the human who instills confidence in their ability to control their dog while being fluid with their motions.
It is the human who speaks with the clients and nurtures the relationship between animal and human.
It is the human who can turn tears into smiles through the loving touch of not only their dog, but their own hand.
It is the human we trust to be safe, safe, safe when working with an animal.
It is the human we count on to work in tandem with their dog and work as one.
Remember, we are not just shoving dogs at people!