Just before Christmas, Piper’s Therapy Dog application was approved & we were given the go ahead to begin working. We’ve had such a positive response since posting about becoming volunteers, we thought we’d share our story.
Initially we were registered with, probably, the most well-known therapy dog charity in the UK. I won’t go into detail, or mention names, but because of Piper’s diet we had no choice but to leave that charity. We soon transferred over to Therapy Dogs Nationwide, a very warm & welcoming charity. Although smaller, they work in pretty much exactly the same way. The support we receive through TDN is second to none & there’s always somebody happy to help.
Our first official Therapy Dog duty was to York Hospital. We used to visit the dementia ward, and got to see my grandma at the same time too. Because Piper has Therapy Dog status, it meant that she could come with me to visit at the hospital. It was so lovely to see the smiles on both my grandmas face & the other patients too. They were all so thrilled with her presence, it really lifted the mood. My grandma loved having a cuddle with Piper.
Piper now visits the local Secondary School, where she takes part in the Paws and Read programme with some of the reluctant readers in the lower school. We both love doing this, it’s so rewarding to see the children’s confidence grow. They love being able to read to Piper & they say it helps them to relax and focus on the book they’re reading. We’re also keen to set up some stress busting sessions for the older pupils, as they head into exam season.
We get asked quite regularly how to register your dog as a Therapy Dog. There’s no official training programme to take part in, but basic obedience will help greatly. Your dog must pass a behaviour assessment, which considers factors such as can your dog walk to heel on a collar, do they jump up, are they friendly? Once your dog had passed the assessment, you then have to fill out an application pack which includes details about you, references etc. It’s quite a lengthy process & took us around 2 months from start to finish. You can find more information about applying by contacting Therapy Dogs Nationwide.
Thank you for reading!
E & P x