In 2015, DCHS launched a new therapy dog program. We are especially excited about this initiative because it gives us a chance to not only partner with some amazing dog advocates in the region, but also to provide a much needed service to our community.
As the American Kennel Club states: “Therapy dogs are dogs who go with their owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. From working with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.
“Therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs stay with their person and have special access privileges in public places such as on planes, restaurants, etc.”
A good therapy dog candidate is one that is laid back, feels relaxed around new people—adults and kids alike—and that can achieve a fairly rigorous level of training.
Julie LaLuzerne, a Door County champion for therapy dog programs and experienced therapy dog owner, has been an essential partner in planning and executing this program. DCHS is working with renowned dog trainer Ron Maloney for the required training, and Therapy Dog International for testing and certification. We will also provide a list of contacts to help you begin your work with your therapy dog.
Requirements for participation in the program include:
- Buckle type collar or non-corrective harness and a six foot leash
- Vaccinated for rabies, distemper, and bordetella
- Dog license certificate
- Non-aggressive & calm temperament
- Basic obedience (Canine Good Citizenship Award or Equivalent)
- Cost is $50 for all three sessions
If you are interested in participating in the program, call DCHS’s Kennel Coordinator at 920-746-1111 to be put on the list for our next sessions, and watch our Facebook page for announcements.