SECOND ROW: Wonderful staff, including Dr. Bill Mingram, Clarington Animal Hospital, Courtice ON
THIRD AND FOURTH ROWS: Piper spreading the love at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto ON
The most significant visit this week, however, was to York University where Piper did her first pet therapy work with law students at Osgoode Hall Law School, who are stressed out because it’s exam time.
BEAUTIFUL LITTLE PIPER CAME TO LIVE WITH US March 25th – “Good” Friday. At age 8 weeks, she arrived like a computer ready, joyous, impatient to receive input. A computer with puppy breath.
Her preparation to become a therapy dog began as it would for introducing any puppy into your home: working on good manners and socializing, and always – and this bears repeating – always with positive experiences. Negative experiences imprint themselves on the soft wax of a puppy’s behaviour as readily as positive experiences.
Within one day of her arrival home, Piper had learned the following important things:
We’ve upped the expectation now in that before she receives her treat, she must be in a “sit”. We’re working on “down” but it’s not as much fun as “turn” – both of which involve bumping into Delaney, who’s doing her own downs and turns and awaiting treats. This brings us to the next preparation for therapy dogs: socialization.
Socializing with other dogs is quite limited at this point until Piper receives her next vaccinations – so for now it’s hanging out with Delaney and exploring the mysteries of the back garden.
Socializing with people, however, is extremely important for would-be therapy dogs, and has begun in earnest. Sure, there are loving family members and folks in the neighbourhood (who remember Misty and Finnegan, both of whom were lost to us in May 2015). This week, however, Piper visited one of our vets, Dr. Bill Mingram and the wonderful staff at the Clarington Animal Hospital in Courtice. The visit was about introductions and lots of hugs and loving up because she’d been well attended by her breeders, Judy and Jim Stewart of Blueheron Golden Retrievers.
The most significant visit this week, however, was to York University where Piper did her first pet therapy work with law students at Osgoode Hall Law School, who are stressed out because it’s exam time. Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) conducts events known as Paws Rooms at various universities across Canada at exam time. Misty and I attended such events where students come by to relax for a few moments, receive lovin’ from the dogs and they tell you how much they miss their own family dogs – something that happened with Piper at the law school.
Obviously Piper is far from being a certified therapy dog yet so our visit to YorkU was unofficial, but it was darned good practice… and also gave us the opportunity to see our friends at the Law Commission of Ontario (more lovin’, more socializing, a baby step closer to the certification exams!)
TO PROVIDE A BROADER PERSPECTIVE ON THE WORK OF THERAPY DOGS AND CATS, this blog will soon be sharing the exquisitely tender work being done with teams of certified animals and the humans with whom they share heartbeats.