Therapy Dogs At Home

Monday May 9, 2022


Friday May 6, 2022


" Why I Love German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) And How It All Began………"

By A

Once upon a time, meaning many years ago, I met a most wonderful “Being”, a GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG!

We had moved to the country, willingly taking into consideration the long commute to the city to our jobs.

The road we lived on at that time was a dirt road. Mail was being delivered half a mile away to our mail box, at a wonderful neighbor’s house. It was almost like I imagine America was in earlier times. At that time, we had only cats who had adopted us. Word must have gotten around that there was always food to be given if one showed up at our house. I always kept cat and dog food in my cupboard for my visitors. -That is also another story, about Gus the Basset Hound, Muncie, Impy and Stranger the cats.- Now back to the GSD STORY.

I was on the back porch working when a thunderstorm was announcing itself. It just had started to rain. Ready to go back into the house, all of a sudden out of nowhere when I saw this huge GSD standing there, looking at me. I told him: “You look like you are hungry and also need a good drying. I will not hurt you and I hope you will not hurt me!” He waited until I came out with a dish of food and ate it in front of me. After that, I dried him and invited him into the house. There was an immediate bond between us. He was my best friend from now on.

My husband, who also had loved dogs and animals like I did (one big consideration why I had married him) accepted our visitor. We made him a nice bed in our garage for the first night. Since I had to assume he belonged to someone, I called the local police the next morning to find out if someone was missing a dog, but also let them know I would like to keep him if no one claimed him. I also took him to the local vet and had him checked out. No one claimed him. He was able to stay! From the local road department I found out that he had been around for at least four weeks. They had left some of their sandwiches for him, and other people tried to take him in, but he would not go near anyone!

I believe he and I were soulmates and he was seeking me out. He was the most wonderful “Being”, kind, and a friend to all animals. The cats loved him, we were family! There is a lot more to this story, but I end it for now. At a future time, I will write down the rest of the story about “Blitz”, named so because he came during this thunderstorm………..


"Why I Visit With My Dogs"

By B


I am asked frequently “Why do you have therapy dogs and why do you visit with them so often?"

To answer this question, I would like to provide a little information about myself and although I could tell you many stories, there are three I would like to share.

I have had therapy dogs since 2003 and that is when my story of visiting with my first therapy dog Lucy begins. I had never visited before, so a very kind TDI member invited me to visit with him and his tiny five pound dog Teenie, until I was comfortable visiting by myself. As I stated, Teenie was a five pound dog and Lucy was a one hundred ten pound German Shepherd. They were quite a head turning pair. We were visiting the local hospital and had entered a room with a non-responsive patient, who had been in a horrible accident. The patient's brother was in the room and told us he had not moved or responded since he came in. He also told us how much his brother loved dogs and that it was a shame he was missing out on this visit. Teenie's owner asked the brother if it would be okay to put Teenie next to the patient on the bed. Absolutely was the answer, so Teenie was placed gently next to the patient's arm and Lucy went to the other side and was nuzzling his other hand. After a couple of minutes, the patient opened his eyes and started talking to the dogs. Nobody could hold back the tears.


My second story happened a few years ago with my therapy dog Barkley. Every week we would visit a senior care facility, which had a memory wing for Alzheimer's patients. We were always diligent about visiting these patients. One resident was declining rapidly and although her family was visiting from out of town, she was almost oblivious of their presence. We had not visited with her before, as she was new to the facility. The staff had dressed her and put her in a wheelchair to visit the family in the communal area. I walked in and she just about jumped out of her wheelchair to make her way to Barkley, a one hundred fifteen pound German Shepherd. She started talking to him and loving on him. The family was able to spend a couple of happy days with her. She passed away peacefully in her sleep three days later. Afterwards, the family told us she had a dog that looked like Barkley and she thought that it was him.


My last story happened just two weeks ago with my newest therapy dog BJ, who I adopted one year ago from animal control. We visit a clinic for rehabilitation from drugs and psychology problems on a weekly basis. We are included in their group therapy sessions. One patient, a veteran who suffered from anxiety attacks in crowded situations, never attended a group therapy session because of this issue. When he learned my dogs were visiting, he wanted to see them, so he went into the room. As we entered, he was pacing in a circle, with his head lowered and breathing heavily. BJ immediately went to him, and the gentleman started petting and talking to him. After just a few minutes, he looked up and said “ I could feel a panic attack coming on and this dog must have known. He came right to me and I feel myself calming down petting him.” I have seen many times that my dogs gravitate to a certain person who needs them the most.



"What are the Odds....?"

By D

Although this a not a story about a therapy dog, it is a story worth sharing. Most people who like dogs also like horses and this is a story about a horse.

I have loved horses all my life. My love for dogs is easy to understand, my whole family are dog lovers. But I’m sure my parents asked each other many times where did this horse crazy girl come from. Not that they disliked horses, they just had never owned one.

When I was 12 years old, I joined a 4H Club for horses and the advisor let me use one of his horses. My parents saw that I was not going to lose interest, so when I was 13 years old they agreed I could have a horse of my own.

They asked my 4H advisor to find me a horse, as they had no knowledge of what type, etc of horse I needed. I remember my 4H advisor and I went to a near by town to bring home my horse. No one was at the residence and he loaded her into the trailer. I was overjoyed that I had a horse. I could hardly wait to get home.

Her name was Susie and she was a strawberry roan with a black mane and tail, white stockings, and a blaze face. I rode her day in and day out. I took her many years to the county fair and I loved her. After I left home, my younger Sister rode her. As time passed, she was sold to another family where she lived out her life.

Update to April 2022. I was asked by a lady that lives on the same road that my horses are boarded at now, if I would teach her Granddaughter to ride horses. We hit it off right away. Grandmother began telling me about her horse when she was a young girl. This horse was 2 years old when she got her and she said she got bucked off a lot, but she learned to ride her.

As I listened to her stories, I began putting two and two together. I knew the road I board my horses on now was the road, but I could not recall which house it was, as it would have been many years ago. As Grandmother talked about the horse she had as a young girl I asked “what was your horses name”? and she answered Susie. I said, Oh my gosh I had your horse! She described her and I said yes! That’s her! She told me her father had sold Susie and she knew what town she went to, but she never knew who had her. Now she knows her first horse was loved and taken care of when she left her, and I found my first horses previous owner.

What were the odds of this happening after so many years? But due to another generation (her Granddaughter) wanting to learn to ride horses, we found we had been owners of the same horse.


"What is a Dangerous Dog Breed?"

By C

alt text In my case it has recently been a YorkiePoo. Yes, I said a YorkiePoo. That cute little breed that is often allowed to get away with behaviors that would never be allowed in a big dog.

alt text I have owned a pet sitting and dog walking business for the last seventeen years and have taken care of many different breeds. This particular YorkiePoo was a rescue so not much is known of his history. When one of my sitters entered the home, after having met the dog a few days before, he ran up behind her and bit her on the back of the leg. He didn’t break the skin but caused bruising. The next time he ran straight to her and bit her on the ankle, breaking the skin. She refused to continue pet sitting for this dog so I had to take over.

alt text Knowing that he was aggressive and an ankle biter, I prepared by wearing heavy blue jeans and leather hiking boots. I also brought along a heavy clipboard to use as a shield. My pockets were filled with smelly dog treats and I hoped that this little guy was food motivated.

alt text As I entered the house, I realized that the dog was barking and lunging at me at chest height. The home owners had their sofa pushed against the wall, even with the exterior doorframe. So the dog was able to get to me from the back of the sofa, which is when my clipboard came in handy. I held it in front of me to protect my upper body from being bitten. He then jumped off of the sofa and came charging at me. That’s when I pulled the cookies out of my pocket. I tossed them in front of me and he stopped his attack so that he could gobble up the treats. After that, he was my buddy and actually cuddled with me on the sofa. I still didn’t entirely trust him and each time I entered the house he started a little game of “protect the house” and I would ignore him, other than throwing the treats on the ground to redirect him.

Even though this dog is small, having a ten pound projectile coming at you with teeth bared is unnerving. Dog bites, even from small dogs, can become infected leading to potentially dangerous results. I take care of Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, etc. and never have any fear of them, but this YorkiePoo.

There is a reason that TDI’s testing requirements do not differentiate based on the size of the dog. A small dog is capable of being trained to do everything that a big dog can do. My second therapy dog was a thirteen pound Poodle-Jack Russell-Shih Tzu mix and probably the best behaved dog I have ever had. I practiced what I reached with her. She was taken to obedience classes as soon as she was old enough. She competed in Agility and worked as a Therapy dog for sixteen years. I always expected big dog behavior from her and I got it.

What breed is a dangerous dog breed? Any breed is capable of biting. I think socialization is the key, no matter the size of the dog. Every dog deserves the opportunity to be a good dog!

This article was written to demonstrate that all dogs, no matter what kind of breed can bite not only larger breeds from which some are listed as dangerous dogs. We just picked a small dog which should emphasize that for our purpose all breeds must be trained and tested no matter what the size. All dogs have a common ancestor, the Wolf. Mankind trained dogs for specific purposes by selecting certain needed or wanted characteristics (Breed Specifics). U


"By the End of Every Summer Season, They Have a Dog Swim at Our City Pool"

By D

alt textRegent and I love this day! He is a water loving German Shepherd Dog and all of his doggy and human friends show up to swim and play. At the swim last year, Regent spotted his Golden Retriever friend Charlie across the pool. Regent started crying and yelping in excitement. They had not seen each other in years, but had played together as puppies. Charlie recognized Regent too and a joyful reunion was on.

Sometimes we take our dogs for granted. I never thought Regent would remember Charlie after that much time, but the two old friends remembered and were happy to see each other. We humans can learn a lot from dogs.

No Charlie this year, but Regent had several friends to play with. Sadie, Honey, and Sugar were all there and I noticed how Regent knew them instantly. He didn’t cry when he saw them like he did with Charlie, but he sees them more often.

This year I saw how dog fights can happen so easily. A couple came into the pool area with three big dogs. As they came in, they were immediately all over Regent sniffing and circling him. He remained calm. I told him to sit and asked the people to please come get their dogs. A bad situation could have developed if Regent were not such a well socialized dog with a good temperament. German Shepherd Dogs sometimes get a bad reputation that is not deserved. I’m proud of my boy!

The Importance of the Socialization of Dogs from Puppy-hood on. Dogs Should Have the Opportunity to Interact with Other Dogs. U


"BJ's Story"

By B

alt textThis is a true story of the little black dog nobody wanted.

BJ was surrendered to animal control by his owner because they did not want him anymore. He was overlooked by many potential adopters because the fact is black dogs are not very adoptable. He was there for months and was becoming very depressed. Finally, a family adopted him and he was so excited. Unfortunately, due to no fault of BJ, he was returned three days later. Well, poor BJ just shut down and sat in a corner very depressed. I was helping with the spay/neuter program there and felt so sorry for him that I took him home. He immediately bonded with my other dog Sophie. After about two weeks of living with us, his real personality started coming out. This dog loves people, so I decided to work towards him becoming a Therapy Dog.

Obedience training was a challenge at the beginning. BJ did not think he needed to know any of that, but I persisted and one day it was like he realized it was actually fun. So with Sophie’s help (she loves training) we worked hard and he passed the TDI Test. He received his credentials two weeks before Christmas, so he and Sophie visited together with their Christmas bells. He visited like a pro. He really loves people and is going to be an awesome Therapy Dog! Sophie has been visiting for two years and is a good Therapy Dog, but BJ is awesome and only getting better. Sophie was also a rescue. Sometimes rescues make the best companions, as they are so appreciative when given a good home. Both BJ and Sophie are in their forever home and loving their jobs. When the bandanas come out, they are ready to go work!


"Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead"
By B

alt textMinnie was a cat that I rescued with her sister when they were very young kittens. I bottle raised these kittens and they were very sweet. As they got older, Minnie was very particular about who was allowed to pet her and when. She loved me, but not many others.

At the time that I got Minnie, I had three adult German Shepherds and she grew up with them. They were always wonderful with other animals and never bothered her or her sister, in fact many times I found her sister sleeping with or being washed by the dogs. This however was not good enough for Minnie, she wanted to control them. Her demeanor around the dogs was hilarious, when she walked across the room they would all look away from her andcower. It was as if they were saying “just don’t look her in the eye”. Occasionally she would stop and act like she was going to run at one just to keep them in line. She would back Barkley, my 115 lb male, into the bathroom and not let him out. The funniest Minnie story is when I rescued Cash. Cash was half-brother to Barkley. He was two years old, untrained, and very neglected and I was told he would kill cats. I had to take him in. A couple of days after Cash came to live at my house, Minnie walked through the living room. Cash was immediately reactive and started after her; well… the other dogs all started for the back door scratching and trying to go out absolutely terrified as if saying “let us out, she’s going to go ballistic…. help help”. All this commotion made Cash stop in his tracks, only to be faced eye to eye with Minnie who sat down and started washing herself, stopping once every few seconds to stare him down. That was the last time Cash ever bothered my cats. As far as I know, she never actually touched any dogs, just threatened them. I have a friend that had me take her dog for a weekend and when he got home never bothered her cats again.

When Minnie passed away of natural causes, needless to say she was not mourned by the dogs. In fact if they could sing, it would have been “ding dong the witch is dead”. By that time their training by Minnie was complete and they always were wonderful around any small animals. Minnie and my four shepherds from this story have all gone to the rainbow bridge now and I imagine Minniehas them all lined up patiently waiting. Maybe even teaching a few other dogs cat etiquette.