Kristin has big plans for Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy with her rescue dog Winston!

In this 26th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sat down with Kristin to hear about her plans for Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy and her experience as an Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) team with her dog Winston as they come up on their one-year anniversary of volunteer work together.

We were also joined by Elise, a Tester/Observer for ATD and my co-host for the week, and our pups Sunny and Moosh.

(Our original recording location fell through so my apologies in advance for the connection on our end.)

Kristin found out about Animal Assisted Therapy through her career as an Occupational Therapist. She has encountered several dogs doing the work and knew that when the timing was right she wanted to find her own canine therapy partner.

Kristin also knew that she wanted to rescue so when she found a friendly Aussie-Coonhound puppy with glowing reviews from his foster parent, she brought him home with the goal of working together one day.

April 2022 mark their one year anniversary of being a volunteer Therapy Dog team together and she has learned quite a bit along the way that will help to inform their future work together in Occupational Therapy.

If you’re ready to hear about Kristin and Winston’s journey, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • What Kristin looked for in a rescue dog with Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy in mind.
  • The differences between organizations and tips on how to find the right fit for you.
  • Kristin’s preliminary research on Therapy Dogs and children on the Autism spectrum.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [02:54] How Kristin learned about Therapy Dogs through her career as an Occupational Therapist.
  • [04:45] Kristin shares about her passion to rescue a dog who was friendly with strangers.
  • [06:26] The wild card of adolescence and other events that can set your dog back in their training.
  • [07:39] Winston’s early days at home and how it let Kristin know he would enjoy Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy.
  • [10:38] Kristin shares about how Winston would occasionally join her for virtual therapy work.
  • [11:25] The importance of Therapy Dogs being able to choose to do things on their terms.
  • [12:01] Kristin talks about how Winston has adjusted to having a new dog sibling, Reno.
  • [12:49] How quickly Winston became a Therapy Dog and Kristin’s attention to pacing him in the work.
  • [15:49] Elise discusses how she still advocates for Moosh and how she can tell when he’s done.
  • [18:00] Kristin reflects on how she hadn’t thought of her own role in volunteering but enjoys meeting people.
  • [19:14] What types of things people like to share with Kristin while she’s visiting with them.
  • [19:50] Elise’s reminder to advocate for yourself as a handler as well and the importance of self-care.
  • [21:09] Kristin’s advice to look into the different Therapy Dog organizations and what they have to offer.
  • [21:45] How the independence of ATD allows Kristin to work with her busy schedule.
  • [22:41] A reminder to check with a facility to see if they have a specific organization they work with.
  • [23:35] Jared recommends shadowing an existing team to see what’s involved in a visit.
  • [23:51] ATD’s support of allowing you to bring your dog to work and ability to be an independent contractor.
  • [24:56] Kristin’s initial experience trying to find a place to visit through cold calls and emails.
  • [26:06] Elise shares how as a T/O she tries to be a mentor for new teams in her area.
  • [26:55] Kristin talks about ATD’s alternate review for those who don’t have a T/O within 40 miles.
  • [28:52] What Kristin has found in her research on Animal Assisted Therapy with children on the Autism spectrum.
  • [33:40] Elise shares a vest with “My name is MOOSH” patches that helps elderly clientele learn his name.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a listen and let me know which part you found the most helpful!

Mentioned in this episode:

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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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