Daisy and I qualified as a therapy dog team just about a year ago. She mostly visits senior centers and special events such as college exam stress relief sessions. We are also a R.E.A.D. team which allows us to visit elementary schools weekly so that reluctant readers can read stories to Daisy.
Daisy loves her visits and gets excited when her vest comes out. Going to new places to be petted and loved on by strangers is her idea of a perfect day.
If my Furry Beastie and I become a therapy team, does that mean my dog can go to restaurants and on airplanes with me?
No, therapy animals are not service animals or emotional support animals. They are amazing, wonderful creatures who have undergone training with kind caring handlers, but they do not get special privileges. A good comparison chart is below. You and your Furry Beastie will not receive special privileges reserved for service dogs, but you likely will feel privileged to be able to help those in need of a furry friend.
Could any Furry Beastie be part of a therapy team?
If your Furry Beastie loves being with people and is comfortable in a variety of situations, a therapy team might be right for you. Start off with making sure your basic obedience commands are solid. Then contact your local therapy animals organization and see what your next step would be. Many organizations offer their own training or at least can recommend a trainer or group class to help your dog practice skills such as moving through a large group of people, how to become familiar with walkers and wheelchairs and so on.
Not all therapy teams involve dogs either. There are also therapy cats, therapy rabbits, even therapy horses and therapy donkeys! Regardless of your Furry Beasties species, you may find that being part of a therapy team is immensely rewarding for both of you.