Does your dog have what it takes to be a therapy dog?

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By Dr. Parker T. Barker

Therapy dogs are really wonderful. These dogs, when certified, visit both the young and old in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, re-habilitation facilities, and just about any place you can find a patient of some sort. And research shows, a dog can make a difference for them.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 7.52.24 PMI am not a therapy dog. I’m not good at staying in one place if there is food somewhere within 200 yards. But I know some therapy dogs and the difference they can make to an individual is truly amazing and enviable. A dog is non-judgmental. They don’t know what awful things have happened to you to get you in this place. They just know they like you and want to be around you especially if it involves a scratch behind the ears. When people see a dog, they usually smile. All of us dogs are cute in our own way. Maybe we remind the patient of their dog long ago or somehow we let a child know they will be OK.

We also give patients or residents something to look forward to – our next visit. The looking forward to is a huge plus for our aging population who may think all they have look forward to is the inevitable. How awful is that?

We have therapy dogs here in Beaufort County. Therapy Dogs International sent me the following note about their upcoming certification. If you think you would like to do this, give them a call to find out more information. You have to know and do specific things, and your dog does too, but it’s not an onerous task (my new word for the day). Give it a go and see. You may open a door to a whole new adventure for both you and your pet.

Does your dog have what it takes to be a therapy dog? Beaufort Chapter No. 229 of Therapy Dogs International will host a therapy dog pre-test clinic at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, at Beaufort County Disabilities and Special Needs Center, 100 Clear Water Way. 

There is no charge or minimum age for the clinic, but you must attend a clinic to be eligible to take the TDI test the following month. Before attending the clinic, please read the test requirements at www.tdi-dog.org. Dogs are required to wear a flat buckle collar with 6-foot leash. You must present your dog’s up-to-date shot records. 

Four weeks later, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, the chapter will hold a TDI test at Bayview Manor, 11 Todd Drive. Space is limited and dogs must be more than one year old to take the test. Please allow 2 hours for the clinic and the test.

Therapy dog-and-handler teams visit hospital, assisted living and nursing homes to bring emotional support to residents. They also participate in the “Tail-Waggin’ Tutor” program, helping children improve their reading skills at local elementary schools, and the YMCA.

To register for the clinic and test, contact Lynn Stratton at TDI229beaufort@gmail.com or 843-522-0798.