#001: Volunteering as a school Therapy Dog with Barbara and Carmel

by | September 20, 2021 | Therapy Dog Talk

Volunteering as a school Therapy Dog with Barbara and Carmel

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

In this inaugural episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Dr. Barbara Volkatis about her Goldendoodle, Carmel, and their incredible experiences volunteering as a school Therapy Dog team through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). We dive into their journey from working with a trainer to help Carmel overcome her unruly behavior to discovering her potential as a therapy dog for children.

Throughout the episode, we explore the positive impact Carmel has had on the children they visit, including how her presence has helped enhance their education. Barbara also shares the unique challenges they faced while volunteering during the pandemic and how they teamed up with a passionate teacher to create innovative remote pet therapy experiences.

We discuss the importance of regular obedience work before therapy dog training, and how not all dogs are ready to volunteer at the same age. Barbara emphasizes the need for prospective therapy animal teams to involve their pets in various activities, to ensure they’re both interested and ready for the journey.

Towards the end of our conversation, we touch on Barbara’s decision to write books about her experiences with Carmel and her transition from academic writing to self-publishing. Barbara offers valuable insights on the challenges of selling a self-published book and the benefits of having your own blog when self-publishing.

After listening to this episode, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges of volunteering as a school Therapy Dog team, as well as valuable insights on how to prepare your four-legged companion for this fulfilling work.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Barbara figured out that Carmel would have fun as a school therapy dog.
  • The lasting effect Carmel’s visits have on the kids she meets.
  • Barbara’s journey with self-publishing to spread the word about pet therapy to more teachers and parents.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [00:43] Barbara shares her background and why she started working with a trainer for Carmel.
  • [01:44] The reason behind Carmel’s “unruly” description in Barbara’s first self-published book.
  • [03:38] The reminder that dogs’ journeys to becoming therapy animals often go unseen.
  • [04:02] The importance of regular obedience training before starting therapy dog training.
  • [04:38] Carmel passing the Canine Good Citizen test at age two, but needing to mature before volunteering.
  • [05:04] The funny story of Carmel’s excitement causing her to pee on the floor sometimes.
  • [07:08] How Barbara discovered that Carmel would enjoy participating in pet therapy.
  • [08:28] Realizing Carmel’s love for children and her potential as a therapy dog in schools.
  • [09:42] The surprising impact Carmel had on the children’s education, as shared by a teacher.
  • [11:27] Teaming up with a passionate teacher to create innovative remote pet therapy experiences during the pandemic.

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.

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

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