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.