Friday, July 01, 2005

Therapy Dogs

I have this dream.

Well, okay, I have many dreams. I dream of no cellulite, I dream of suddenly having a fashion sense, I dream of having the willpower not to chow on anything sugar or chocolate... But since none of those dreams seem to have much a chance of happening, I'm currently focussing on a different dream: I'm training my two dogs to be therapy dogs.

What this means is that once they're certified, I'll be able to take them into nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages etc and have them give their unconditional doggie love to the patients. There's lots of evidence that dogs have substantial healing power for the sick, and that's what I want to do.

Oscar and Kip are very well trained and they would totally pass the test, except for one itty bitty problem: dogs. See, one of the parts of the test requires me and my dog to walk up to someone else with a dog. My dog is supposed to sit quietly next to me while I shake hands with the other dog owner. um, yeah. My dogs like to greet other dogs. Not greet. They like to charge at them, jumping and playing and sniffing. Guess what? That won't get us a pass on the test.

So, I have devised a solution. There is a dog park near our house. Four times a week, Oscar, Kip and I head up to the dog park. I make them heel, sit, stay, down, etc while three to twenty unleashed dogs are jumping on them and running after balls etc etc. They are making such progress! Talk about major distractions! For the first time, I have real hope that we're going to be able to get certified. I can't believe how quickly they are improving!

On Sunday, my husband and I are going to take them on the train to a big farmer's market downtown. They've never been on a train before, so that should be a good socializing experience for them.

If anyone else has trained their dogs to be therapy dogs, I'd love to hear from you! I know a gal who does it and she says it's one of the most rewarding things she does.