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Dayton Dog Training Club: Lending a Helping Paw

As a volunteer for Dayton Dog Training Club in Moraine, Ohio, I teach advanced obedience and therapy-dog classes. I was pleased to see your recent article, and agree with the author’s observations. Many handlers are called, but few of their dogs are chosen. As part of the therapy-dog training class, I include a couple of field trips, one to the nearby Little Miami River, where the University of Dayton rowing club meets to practice. The dog-and-handler teams march in parade formation, two abreast, sharing the road and path with walkers, runners and cyclists, and stand on a bobbing dock while the rowers fly by. The highlight of our first excursion was the coxswain literally jumping his boat onto the dock and sliding past our seated teams, who never flinched or broke the sit/stay.

For those who don’t find competition appealing but want to do something with their dogs, therapy work can be an excellent alternative. Teachers and trainers, however, must be honest about a dog and handler’s potential. And they do have to pass the test.

In response to McConnell’s “Lending a Helping Paw”.

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Submitted by Cheri Davis | February 11 2013 |

great article, great idea. I, too am involved in pet therapy education in the Dayton, Ohio area, and have been for ten years. Personally, I've certified three dogs. The first passed the certification test with flying colors. Visiting, he was far too exuberant, and his career visiting was short-lived. He went on to become an agility champion. My second dog took a couple of tries to pass the test, and is very sweet. She absolutely hated visiting. Third time was a charm. My sweet Bella was born to do pet therapy, and excelled at it. The hardest thing to explain to handlers is that not every dog is suitable for pet therapy. Our classes focus more on what teams will encounter when visiting (which is almost anything) and observing their dogs reaction and stress level. I needed this article ten years ago! I am currently visiting with my cat, who is fabulous therapy cat.

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