Therapy Dogs: The Eyjahunda ISDs at Work

We did not renew our TDI in 2010. We moved to Dragonfly Farm and are very busy with that new life. So, our Therapy work has been put on hold. However, Ras went to a Brownie Meeting in 2010 and made some friends. The little girl with the pig tails [pictured below - Click on pictures to enlarge] was terrified of dogs but inched her way up to Ras and finally made friends with her. It was really sweet.

Other updates can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Kol’s start with therapy work; a juvenile institution.

In juvenile institutions, the goal is to try to “rehabilitate” the minors.  You don’t need to be in the business to know that change is only made when the person is ready and willing to participate.  The term “carrot” is used to describe benefits that the kids want and can earn for doing the hard work of rehabilitation.

I have never seen kids willing to open up like they will for an opportunity to hang out with a dog.

In 2006, Kol and I participated in a program called Come, Sit, Stay.  Kol was the carrot.  Each girl was required to keep a journal.  Subjects include sobriety, positive self-talk, kindness, forgiveness, and anger management.  They were willing to do anything to work with Kol, the little Carrot.

They learned a great deal about expectations and patience.  This program has been so successful at teaching them these concepts that the kids even trained Kol to show, stack and were thrilled when she took best puppy in her first show.  They each got a ribbon and the exercises demonstrated how practice makes perfect.  Terrific!

When we started the program, we called it, “Come, Sit, Stay”. [See pics above~Kol is a pup in the pictures from the program]. The girls applied for the program, were required to maintain almost perfect behavior and the benefit is, of course, Kol.  Every day, the girls get to spend about an hour with Kol.  Basic behaviour modification at work.

I started bringing Kol to the facility when she was 12 weeks old.  The girls learned the basics of dog training and set out to train Kol.  The results were immediate and amazing.  They earned the Come, Sit, Stay Certificate within two weeks.  It was too easy for them.  As the American Rare Breed Association show was coming to town, I decided to have them prepare Kol for that.  They did such a great job that Kol came home with 13 ribbons. I think you can imagine how excited they were!  They each got a second certificate called “Show Ready”.

Next, I went out and purchased dog training magazines.  Each girl created a lesson for Kol.  One taught her how to shake.  One taught her how to catch, and one taught her “down”.  I have had a hard time keeping up with them.  ”Down” was a tremendous exercise in patience as Kol is a little alpha dog.  The girls persevered.

When we moved away, they were preparing for Kol’s AKC Good Citizen Certificate, which she now has. Every day, they practice the ten items Kol must master to pass the test. My favorite part of every day is the chasing.  Kol chases them around the yard and each day, she gets faster.  Last week, she caught one of the girls and it was quite a celebration.  They really love her and the entire experience has been a blessing for all of us.

The girls in the program are not violent.  All have a drug problem.  My hope is that they will seek employment in a pet store or a vet’s office or, who knows.  They know that they can’t have a dog if they are using drugs, so the carrot to stay clean is a big one.  We know that if they get a job, the chances of them staying clean are much greater.  Now, they have some skills to put on a resume.

I am sorry that because of confidentiality laws, you can’t see the faces of these young women.  They are so joyful when working and playing with Kol.  They act like the kids they are, innocent, loving, and kind.

If you are looking for somewhere to donate your time and your dog is a certified therapy dog, consider
volunteering to do a program like this one.  It is simple and the rewards are tremendous.

Kol says your dog will love it too! [dmcd, 2006]

2010 Update: Kol was the top ISD in AKC for 2010 and was the ISD National Champion at Eukanuba in Long Beach, CA. She also became the first ISD Grand Champion in AKC. Those girls sure started something fun and Kol’s grandson will enter the ring very soon! We are so grateful to those kids and hope that they are finding tremendous success in the world.

2011 Update: One of Kol’s puppies works full time in the office of a therapist. He was identified as a potential therapy dog candidate by Pat Hastings during her evaluation of the litter. She was right on the money. His “mom” says he does a wonderful job and is loved by her clients for his good work.