I first became aware of Therapy Dogs International in 2008, the year after I adopted Grace. Grace was a regular visitor to a number of my college classes, as well as the preschool where John was working at the time. She loved the attention and proved to be particularly fond of children. We would also get stopped on the street regularly, most often by college students missing their dogs back home. I always understood their plight, based on my own experience, that having animals around had consistently improved my quality of life. What I did not know was that programs like TDI and others existed precisely for this reason.
Therapy dogs have been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lift spirits, speed healing, improve symptoms of depression, and help people cope with an endless list of other physical and mental disorders. The simple bottom line: dogs improve our quality of life. However, some of the people who need them most have previously not had access to them. Dogs have a way of unlocking even the deepest buried laughter and smiles, and helping people find themselves again.
A therapy dog, not to be confused with a service dog, is specially trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, and disaster areas to visit with people in need. The requirements are based on the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test with a few additional elements dealing specifically with medical equipment, like wheelchairs and crutches. John and I found that Max and Grace had gained most of these skills on our routine walks and road trips, and were already well prepared for the exam.
We are happy to announce that both Max and Grace passed their TDI exam this February and are now full-fledged therapy dogs! Grace was certified in 2009, but was unable to begin visits due to a very stubborn cough and runny nose. Now that she is feeling more like herself again, we decided it was time to give it another shot. We took the test at University Hospital in Cincinatti, OH and were evaluated by Sandy Kordis-Rubin. Sandy was accompanied by Sophie, a very sweet, seasoned therapy dog. We had a wonderful experience and all of the dogs who took the exam that day passed with flying colors. All of us cannot wait to start making visits! We will be sure to keep you posted as Max and Grace get started.
Spreading the word about pet therapy is the backbone of our plan to walk across the country. We understand that we will be relying on the kindness of strangers on our journey, and we want to give back in the best way we know how: Sharing our good dogs and good energy with those who need it most.
If you are in the Louisville area and are interested in having a visit from a therapy dog, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like more information about Therapy Dogs International or wish to get involved, their website is: http://www.tdi-dog.org/