Therapy Dog Training: So It Begins

Therapy Dog Training: So It Begins
This is the first of various columns that will chronicle my progress in preparing a Shih Tzu to become a certified therapy dog. Of course, I'll emphasize how this therapy dog training and ownership affect my fibromyalgia. Hopefully, my experience will help you to decide whether this process makes sense for you to attempt as well. I know this is a topic of interest to many readers. My last column about the experience of owning a therapy dog attracted more than four times the readership of any other column I've written. Follow-up questions suggested that many people are as interested in the therapy dog training process as the outcome. A well-trained dog is a blessing, but a well-trained dog you can bring with you wherever you go is an extraordinary gift — one that's very much in demand. This week, I've learned two valuable things. The first is that memory is selective. I'm convinced that we only remember what we want to remember. It was 15 years ago when we adopted our last dog, Charlie, who was destined to become a star therapy dog. That didn't happen right away, of course. It was a process. That much I remember. But because the results were so spectacular, I forgot exactly how much time, effort, and patience it took to get him there. My memory has been refreshed during the past eight days! The other valuable thing I've learned is that 15 years is a long time when it comes to body condition. I have much less energy now than I had with Charlie. If nothing else, this dog will get me up and moving. That can only lead to improved conditioning, a great thing for a sedentary fibromite like me. Our new, year-old family member, Sam (formerly known as Marley — a name that just didn't suit him), is truly a love. It's hard to believe he's only been with us a w
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2 comments

  1. Simone says:

    Hi Christine, I’m caring for a future seeing eye dog and…woah! It’s tough! He came to me at 12 weeks old and is now 9 months old…and 35kgs!
    I thought training him would get me out and about more often as he needs to come with me EVERYWHERE! Shopping is nowhere near as fun with Ned (even though he has stopped pooing in Kmart – knock on wood!) and everyone stops to talk to you (sounds good, right? Not with fibro – it’s all an effort!) He still has his ‘bits’ (as he may become a breeder) and he’s just reached adolescence. I have found that often I think about how hard it’s going to be so I stay home.
    BUT I love him and I’m doing something that will help someone else (I hope!) I don’t know if I’d do it again but I’m really glad I have this time.

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