Have you ever wondered what to expect when volunteering as a school Therapy Dog team?

In this inaugural episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sat down with Barbara to hear about her experiences volunteering as a school Therapy Dog team with her Goldendoodle, Carmel. Barbara is a college professor who just wanted to be able to enjoy walking her dog. In working with a trainer, she discovered that Carmel may be a good fit for a Therapy Dog and decided to pursue further training towards that goal. They became a Therapy Dogs International (TDI) team in 2018.

During the pandemic, Barbara not only found time to collaborate with teachers on how to bring innovative pet therapy experiences to the virtual classroom but she also learned how to self-publish her experiences training and volunteering with Carmel. These two books, listed below, are well worth your time but before you run to grab them you want want to miss this episode and the stories she shares of how she’s seen Carmel transform the children they visit.

If you’re ready to learn more about what it’s like to aid a teacher in Animal Assisted Education, through volunteering as a pet therapy team, during a pandemic no-less, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Barbara knew that Carmel would enjoy volunteering as a school Therapy Dog.
  • The long-term impact Carmel’s visits make on the children she meets.
  • Barbara’s experience self-publishing to share the power of pet therapy with more teachers and parents.


Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [00:43] Barbara introduces herself and jumps right into why she began working with a trainer for Carmel.
  • [01:44] Why Barbara refers to Carmel as unruly in her first self-published book.
  • [03:38] We reflect on how you often only see a dog far along their journey and don’t think about how they got there.
  • [04:02] Barbara talks about how much regular obedience work takes place before therapy dog training begins.
  • [04:38] Carmel passed her Canine Good Citizen test at two but her trainer said she should mature before volunteering as a school therapy dog.
  • [05:04] Barbara reflects on how Carmel was so excited to see people that she sometimes peed on the floor.
  • [06:46] I summarize Barbara’s books.
  • [07:08] How Barbara knew that Carmel would enjoy participating in pet therapy.
  • [08:28] How they discovered that Carmel loves children and might be a good fit in schools.
  • [09:42] Barbara shares how she was surprised to find out from the teacher how much of an impact Carmel was making on the children’s education.
  • [11:27] How they connected with a passionate teacher who became their biggest advocate and collaborator and how they worked together to create innovative remote pet therapy experiences during the pandemic.
  • [13:25] Barbara advises prospective therapy animal teams to involve their pet in a variety of activities to see what it is they enjoy before pursuing next steps so that the animal can be involved in the decision through showing interest.
  • [15:59] We talk about how not all dogs are ready to volunteer at the same age.
  • [18:10] How Carmel inspired Barbara to write books and to learn about self-publishing to reach more teachers.
  • [18:57] Barbara shares what it’s like to go from being an academic writer for peer-reviewed journals to self-publishing.
  • [20:10] The challenges when it comes to selling your book after self-publishing.
  • [20:57] Why it’s beneficial to have your own blog when self-publishing and what that process involves.

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.

Disclosure: I earn commission for purchases made through links in this post.

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