WANTED: Service Dog Trainers & Assistants!

Comfort Corner | New Generations

A therapy dog/human partnership is special. Can we carry on with another when our dog becomes too old for therapy visits? Yes, because succeeding generations learn from the ones before them. As Therapy Dog Program Manager Barbara McKown relates, when she got Gill (3), her therapy dog Bailey (8) was slowing down. When Gil went to the groomer or visited Pet Co., he watched Bailey, especially the commands “sit,” “look at me,” and “watch me,” commands used in therapy activities. Near Barbara’s home, a family has gotten to know Bailey, and when they meet them walking, he always works his therapy magic on them. He sits, they touch him, they leave with smiles—just like any therapy visit. When Gill went along, he watched and learned from Bailey’s modeling behavior. Today Gill is a certified Alliance therapy dog, who visits various facilities every week.

It’s not just the dogs who learn from the previous generation in the home. It’s us! Laura Lotz, who has taken our Therapy Dog Prep School four times since 2005, all with different dogs—mini-Aussies and Aussies Lego, Bonnie, Ozzie, and currently Tali—says that each dog has much to teach the new ones. And Laura has learned as well. She works with excellent breeders and has learned to choose the puppy in a litter that exhibits traits needed in therapy work, such as calmness. While that is no guarantee that a puppy will grow into a dog who thrives in therapy work, being aware of doing all one can do to continue the tradition will pay off.

It always helps to be able to…
pass it along.