What qualifications do dogs need to gain a therapy dog title?
Most dogs can be therapy dogs, but there are definite features most of them have. Robynne Wood, therapy dog expert and breeder adds, “It comes as numerous studies show interactions with animals, particularly friendly, furry animals like dogs, can decrease stress in humans”(Wood 4). Dogs who are a naturally friendly, fluffy breed, like golden retrievers and labradors, are the best dogs to aid in stress relief. Therapy Dogs International, a group who certify therapy dogs, released this statement, “Therapy dogs come in all breeds, shapes and sizes. They do not just tolerate human contact, they welcome and love it. Therapy dogs are friendly, gentle and remain at ease in many different settings and situations”(Amladi 9). The dogs must remain calm even if their owner or person they are helping is having any type of attack. Overall, therapy dogs have no set features, but some work more than others. These qualities aid in making people’s lives better and easier.
Who needs a therapy dog, and for what?
In a way, almost anyone could be aided by a therapy dog because most of the population is under stress at some point of their day, some more than others. The people who most need and commonly use these furry stress relievers are students at any age, people who have serious mental or physical illnesses, or veterans who suffer from PTSD or any post-war issues. Many schools are taking an approach with the dogs, Logan Knapp, a senior at a high school who frequently uses therapy dogs states, “Anxiety keeps a person from fulfilling their full potential. It makes them think they are not good enough or can’t do something because the anxiety of performing is so overwhelming. This makes it hard to succeed in school. The dogs relieve stress making my work easier”(Knight 3). Logan is only one of many thousands of students whose school work improves once the animals relieve their loaded stress. Veterans also are some on the main recipients of these dogs because, as veteran Matt Moores stated, “It made me feel like I had a purpose,” he said. “It made me feel like I have something that I’m good at and that is doing good. And those are the two things I was missing in my life. To have that back is the best medicine”(Moores 7). Many veterans feel alone or abandoned and the dogs fill that void for the majority. Cancer patients, kids learning to read, and sufferers of mental illnesses also use the services.
Are therapy dogs becoming a more common practice?
Although therapy dogs are not as common as service dogs, they are on the rise. Ms.Benson, a High Potential teacher at eagle creek elementary stated, “She really helps the students learn to read because they enjoy reading to the dog”, in regards to the therapy dog she uses in her classroom. With more and more reasons to use the animals,the more they will be used. Having the students read to the dog is a fairly new practice. Therapy dogs for suffering veterans also are becoming much more common, “Warrior Canine Connection pairs dogs with and they are helping grow the use a lot. Garrison and his wife recently joined dozens at a graduation ceremony”(Siddiqui 4). With dozens of veterans getting dogs at a time, the popularity will rise, meaning the rights these dogs have will as well.