OUR EPI'S AS THERAPY DOGS
Lucy in her official Delta Society vest
Lucy, our four-year-old epi pug girl, received her original Delta Society certification
as a therapy dog when she was two years old, about seven months after her first definite seizure. She has visited a retirement center and the shopping
mall during the Christmas season (the dogs are wonderful stress
relievers to all the people shopping, and it is a great time to tell them about the joys
of visiting people in need) to name just a few.
Shortly after September 11th, Lucy and I flew to the Pug National Specialty, and ended up
spending many hours in the Denver airport. Lucy enjoyed letting people cuddle and pet her,
and got many people smiling, just seeing her ride around in her snuggle sack, strapped to
my chest. She's also visited a nursing home, and worked as a neutral dog to help other
animals get their certification.
Lucy has matured so much since we got our original certification in 2000, and I was
excited to get her reevaluated in May of 2002 (Delta Society requires that
all animals and their handlers get recertified every two years.) Lucy is still a little
imp, didn't want to let the evaluator look in her mouth, and thought she would sit with
the evaluator who was petting her instead of coming to me when I called, but still, she
got recertified one level higher than she did originally.
If you are interested in taking your dog to visit Nursing Homes, or other folks in need of
cheering up, Delta Society is a great organization to work with and I highly recommend it. See link below.
Little Bit and Bogie
Bogie (4 year old neutered epi pug-mix shelter rescue)
and his "little sister" Little Bit (4 year old female non-epi chihuahua-pug
"Pugs'N Pals" rescue) "asked" to be put to
work by going up to people on walks and sitting in front of them with the expectation of
being petted. After basic obedience training (both are "couch potatoes," so the main training they needed
was to get up!), we qualified with three groups: the Orange County (CA) SCPA
"PAWS"; Delta "Pet Partners of Orange County"; and TDI "Therapy
Dogs of Southern California." We've done visits to
children's homes, Ronald McDonald homes, convalescent homes, and a children's rehab
facility. Since Bogie has his seizures at night and never gets stressed about anything
except finding food, the visits don't cause him any problem
(although I had much higher chiropractic bills until I got a walker and made a seat for
him to ride on, instead of lifting his 22 pounds up to each bed!)
Delta and TDI are the two main national organizations evaluating and certifying animals to
do visits, either alone or as part of local groups. (Group visits are generally less stressful, since there's not just one dog trying to meet and greet everyone there.)
For more information, contact:
Delta Society - Resources on Human-Animal Interactions,
Therapy Dogs International, Inc. http://www.tdi-dog.org
Mary Jane's Maggie May
Maggie May is ready for a visit!
6 1/2 year old Beagle - 27 lbs.
After Maggie May was diagnosed with a seizure disorder,
she trained for and became a Delta certified Pet Therapy Dog. This
involved further obedience training and testing in various group settings
and conditions (stress factors). She continues with quarterly continuing
education classes and testing for re-certification. Maggie loves visiting
patients at a local psychiatric hospital. Although the visits always cheer
and benefit the patients, on a recent visit Maggie especially benefited.
Maggie had a difficult time with cluster seizures just prior to this
visit. After an extended period of rest, I took her to visit some
patients. Maggie obviously gained this time! A patient kept saying, "Look,
she is smiling at me." Maggie was calm and enjoyed the entire visit.
Despite her seizure disorder, Maggie continues to enjoy these activities.
Maggie May just passed her Delta re-certification
testing. She is looking forward to continuing her hospital visits.
For a picture of
Maggie May with her sister, Lily Morena, and more information on Maggie, click