For Marcia, avoiding volunteer burnout is essential in order to continue sharing her Therapy Dog Charlie with others.
In this 43rd episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Marcia and her Golden Retriever, Charlie, about their inspiring volunteer journey as an Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) team in Georgia. We focus on the importance of avoiding volunteer burnout and maintaining a healthy balance for both the handler and their dog.
Marcia shares how she found Charlie, who she lovingly calls “a Puppy with a Purpose,” as she retired from her teaching career. She knew that volunteering as a Therapy Dog team was the perfect way to stay active and make a difference in her community.
Throughout our conversation, we discuss the significance of really knowing your dog and being able to recognize even small changes in their behavior. Marcia explains how noticing these changes in Charlie helped her realize that he needed a break to avoid burnout. By giving Charlie some time off and adjusting their volunteer schedule, they were able to maintain a happy and fulfilling balance for both of them.
In this episode, you’ll also learn about some of their favorite experiences and the heartwarming moments they’ve shared with the people they visit. Plus, we talk about the role of handlers in therapy dog work and the importance of creating boundaries for your four-legged companion.
After listening to this episode, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges of volunteering with a therapy dog, as well as valuable insights on how to prepare your furry friend for this rewarding work.
In this episode, we discuss …
- Why the book Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog holds so much meaning for Marcia.
- How Charlie is a good fit for Therapy Dog work.
- What Marcia does to help protect Charlie from volunteer burnout.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [01:29] Marcia and Charlie have been an AKC Therapy Dog team since September 2020.
- [02:05] Marcia shares the impact of the book Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog on her and the children they visit at the elementary school.
- [03:31] Marcia decided to volunteer as a Therapy Dog team with Charlie after retiring from teaching.
- [04:27] Marcia knew Charlie was perfect for Therapy Dog work when she first met him.
- [06:14] Charlie’s first visit to an assisted living center showed his gentle and calm demeanor with residents.
- [07:32] Marcia learned the importance of not overworking Charlie and adjusting their volunteer schedule to avoid burnout.
- [08:12] Networking with other Therapy Dog teams is helpful for support and information.
- [09:39] Marcia talks about how Charlie adapted to seeing a wheelchair for the first time.
- [13:48] Charlie has earned his AKC Advanced Trick Dog title, which surprised Marcia at first.
- [14:28] Marcia emphasizes the importance of creating boundaries and knowing when to say “no” for your dog’s well-being.
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:
- AKC Canine Good Citicizen (CGC)
- AKC Therapy Dog
- AKC Trick Titles
- Becoming a Therapy Dog and More (Marcia and Charlie’s website)
- Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog
- Tracy and her Therapy Cats
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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.
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