Sunday, September 19, 2010

Penny's From Heaven & Therapy Dog Training

We had a bang up day at Stay 'n Play Pet Ranch where Luc and I have been in a prep course for therapy dog certification.   Patsy Swendson, founder of Penny's From Heaven Foundation, spoke to us about the rewards of volunteering as a therapy dog handler and about what is involved.  Patsy has put together a very professional organization and runs a tight ship.  A schedule is being worked out for therapy dog certification classes from the Foundation at Stay 'n Play.  

Jen, Patsy and Denise of Penny's From Heaven drove from San Antonio to talk with us about the Penny's From Heaven Foundation.

Jen, Patsy, Denise, Charlotte of Stay 'n Play, and Laura, our trainer.

One side of the information table with the Foundation's scrapbook.  It's impressive.

The other side of the information table stacked with books authored by Patsy.

Patsy answering questions about the Foundation prior to her talk.

Classmates Melany and Nicole.  Melany is such a beautiful dog, isn't she?

After Patsy's talk, we went to Stonebridge Health Center where she, Denise and Jen began to mentor us on what to do and what to watch for.  Here is what I learned in about 45 minutes at Stonebridge: 

1) You need to always be aware of the surroundings and the safety of your dog is the first priority. 

2) There needs to be 2-3 feet between you and your dog and the other handlers and their dogs. 

3) When in a senior center or hospital, you need to be aware if your dog starts to sniff or eat off the floor -- medications can be on the floor. 

4) If a patient coughs, you need to notice and carry sanitized wipes to use on the dog where the patient touched him -- you don't want to spread germs from one patient to another.

5) If a patient is in a wheel chair, you need to make sure the break is on and the dog's paws and tail are clear from the wheels. 

6) If your dog is fine in one room but for some reason hesitates in another, you and your dog leave the room. 

7) You also need to read body language to determine who wants to visit with your dog and who does not.

8) If someone is comatose, you talk to them as if they were alert.

9) When someone comes toward you and your dog, you give them the right-of-way.

10) When not walking or when greeting a stranger, you keep your dog next to your leg and place your hand in a relaxed manner on his body somewhere to reassure him that all is well. 

11) When Luc refuses to listen to a simple command, refrain from using my "drill sergeant" tone which as once a single mother for 12 years of two boys is quite easy for me to use. 

12) Since Luc is an indiscriminate kisser, I was shown how to get that under control while trying to teach him to kiss by invitation only.  I've been working on that for about 3 weeks and haven't made as much headway as I would like -- like almost none.  He is determined to kiss.  Eventually we'll get it worked out.

Luc chilling out at my feet as I listen to Patsy.

It is also a bit stressful.  Labs are goofy part of the time and so am I.  I'm trying to make sure Luc does as he has been trained and he is not consistent. Luc is stressed because he is having to behave in an acceptable manner and wants to please.   Both of us are not always sure what to do.  lol  We took a long nap when we returned home Saturday afternoon -- Luc on the cool, tile floor and I crashed on my bed.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Charlotte of Stay 'n Play for being so determined and passionate about getting a therapy dog program started in our area.  There is a lot preparation and Charlotte has worked hard to bring it about and for it to go smoothly.  Everyone at Stay 'n Play has pitched in; it is well-organized and a pleasure to be a part of the program.  Laura, our trainer, too, put her heart and soul in getting us ready to move on to the next step. 

Until next time, God bless.


Gardening in a Sandbox said...

What a wonderful thing you are learning to do.

DJan said...

Thank you for this wonderful post about the training. I love these dogs, you can just tell that Luc is a sweetheart, look at the way his legs are crossing daintily in front of him. And those are good rules to remember for any of us, wherever we are. I hope you realize how much I appreciate your posts about this, Lynn.

Crafty Sue said...

Just a quick line to say thanks for wishing me a good trip!
Interesting post!

SquirrelQueen said...

Oh Lynn, this sounds like such a wonderful program. I am so excited for both you and Luc.

That looks like a lot of information to remember but I would think after a little practice it will become second nature.

Luc looks so sweet sitting at you feet.

The Japanese Redneck said...

It sounds like you learned a lot. I would never had thought about some of those things on your list.

~Niki~ said...

I love dogs.
I own 2 pekingese.
Love the pics you posted.
nice 2 have found you :)