#026: Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy with Kristin and Winston

by | March 21, 2022 | Therapy Dog Talk

Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy with Kristin and Winston

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 and her Aussie Coonhound, Winston, about their exciting journey into Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy. We’re also joined by Elise, a Tester/Observer for the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), and our pups Sunny and Moosh.

Kristin shares how her career as an occupational therapist introduced her to therapy dogs, sparking her desire to find a canine therapy partner. Her passion for rescuing dogs led her to Winston, a friendly Aussie-Coonhound puppy who turned out to be perfect for the job.

Throughout their one-year volunteer journey together, Kristin and Winston have learned valuable lessons that will help shape their future work in Occupational Therapy. In our conversation, we discuss what Kristin looked for in a rescue dog, how to find the right therapy dog organization, and her preliminary research on therapy dogs and children on the Autism spectrum.

We also touch on the importance of handlers in therapy dog work, as they need to understand their dog’s behavior and build connections with the people they visit. Kristin and Elise offer valuable insights on advocating for your dog, pacing their work, and the importance of self-care for handlers.

After listening to this episode, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the joys and challenges of volunteering with a therapy dog, as well as helpful tips on how to prepare your furry friend for this rewarding work.

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] Kristin discovers therapy dogs through her work as an occupational therapist.
  • [04:45] Kristin’s passion for rescuing a friendly dog leads her to Winston.
  • [06:26] Training challenges during a dog’s adolescence and other setbacks.
  • [07:39] Winston’s early days show he’s a perfect fit for Animal Assisted Occupational Therapy.
  • [10:38] Winston occasionally joins Kristin for virtual therapy sessions.
  • [11:25] The importance of letting therapy dogs choose to participate on their terms.
  • [12:01] Winston adjusts to having a new dog sibling, Reno.
  • [12:49] Winston’s fast progress as a therapy dog and Kristin’s attention to pacing his work.
  • [15:49] Elise advocates for her dog Moosh and recognizes when he’s done.
  • [28:52] Kristin’s research on therapy dogs and children on the Autism spectrum.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community 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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