Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy


Zoe turned two yesterday, and so we were able to visit the hospital as a pet therapy team for the first time today.

Zoes First day of Pet Therapy 2_edited-2

Don’t you just love the little corgi tongue sticking out?

I’m often asked what it takes for a dog to be a pet therapy dog. Requirements vary from program to program, but here’s the minimum for the pet therapy program at Lutheran Medical Center:

The dog has to be friendly to every person it meets.

It absolutely cannot growl, snarl or snap. If it does for any reason, it’s out.

It has to be well behaved — no jumping, lunging, or bark. Basic obedience is nice — sit, stay, settle, down — but not mandatory, as long as the owner has control of the dog at all times.

It can’t lick or give “kisses”. I know. I love them, too, but mouths are germy places, and that’s bad for people who are sick already. More surprising, it’s not dog hair that people are allergic to, it is dog saliva. It’s just that the hair has saliva on it. So, no licking.

It must be able to take a treat gently.

It must pass a fecal screening to make sure it is free of parasites.

And finally, the one Zoe and I have been waiting for, the dog must be two years old.

When Zoe first came to us (A little corgi dropped in and wanted to stay.), she was a little skittish around men and other tall people. Hats and umbrellas freaked her out, too. I can’t blame her for being nervous — she’d had a lot of changes in her short life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just a little worried…

But I could sense even then that she would be a great pet therapy dog if we could get her used to new things. So we started encouraging her to “say hello” to every person she came across. Treats may have been involved.

Zoe & Tegan_188-1.jpg

We worked on “no kisses” after Zoe got over being shy.

The end result was visiting the hospital, with all it’s strange sights, sounds and smells, and greeting new people, some of whom who wear floppy gowns — and loving it. I was ready to leave before Zoe was.

Zoe's first Pet Therapy day_edited-1

Why are we stopping?

Next up — being evaluated by other pet therapy program people to make sure I’m not biased or missing something. I don’t think she has any serious problems, but we’ll see…

About coloradogeography

Amy Law is a second-generation Coloradoan with a passion for her native state. This translated into a Master’s degree in Natural Resources from Colorado State University, and continues as a lifelong fascination with how people and nature interact. From family vacations in the station wagon to travel for work, she's covered the state, and everywhere she goes, she finds new things to see and ideas to explore.
This entry was posted in Pets and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Zoe the Corgi’s First Day of Pet Therapy

  1. What an adorable dog! She will melt many hearts. My local library uses therapy dogs in their “Read to Dogs” program for struggling readers. Reluctant readers love it because the dogs are a patient, non-judgemental audience.

  2. Squeals! I just knew your little girl would be a super star in the program. Congrats and welcome!

  3. Yep, yep. And if they had treats, she would go with them in a heartbeat. Treat and car rides are what she’s about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s