Aiza has completed her basic obedience class and is now working on her own for a few weeks. Then she will begin specific therapy dog classes and her owner will attend the Pet Partner Handler Workshop.
We took her through the AKC Canine Good Citizenship test and she sailed through it.
She is learning so quickly and is very eager to please. What she loves most is someone looking at her and telling her she’s a pretty girl!
She has a very specific way of moving her body. It is large and sometimes lumbersome looking but she is very delicate and gentle with her movements.
She eems to know that because of her size she needs to move a little slower and give people a chance to adapt to her before she gets too close.
She does not run up to you or jump or bark.
She weaves her way over to you and sits about two feet in front of you. The perfect position for therapy dogs to meet new people.
The next step in her journey to becoming a Love Dog is to practice, practice, practice. She has five more hours of classwork and will be introduced to tons of role playing scenarios. She will meet new people, male and female, different ages, wearing different types of clothing. People making strange gestures and sounds, loud noises, objects in her way.
Then her owner will complete her handler coursework.
And the final step is the Pet Partner Evaluation, which has 22 elements for which handler and animal are scored separately.
Aiza’s owner is now encouraged to begin shadowing an experienced therapy team without Aiza to see what is required in different situations. While you often go into therapy work assuming you know exactly where you will volunteer, you may not be familiar with all the opportunities available to you. And then so often your animal makes the choice by showing us where she is most comfortable and has a natural feel for the clients.