Donna and her Australian Labradoodle Zoe are making the transition from Therapy Dog to Service Dog.
In this seventh episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I’m joined by Donna and her two Australian Labradoodles, Madison and Zoe. Madison is 15 years old, and Zoe is three years old and a certified therapy dog. Donna is a nurse with 33 years of experience and two grown daughters.
Donna shares how she became interested in pet therapy while working as a nurse and how she pursued it when she had more free time after her daughters grew up. She and Zoe trained for months before becoming a certified therapy team with Love on a Leash.
Zoe’s trainer recommended that she would make a great therapy dog when she was a puppy, even though Donna was initially surprised because Zoe was shivering and not socializing well. But with lots of training and socialization, Zoe became a successful therapy dog.
Donna explains that she is a guardian mom for Zoe and Madison. She takes care of them while they are pregnant and for a short period after giving birth before they return to the breeder. Donna is currently a guardian mom for Zoe, who will have one more litter before being spayed.
Zoe and Donna’s therapy work is focused on the bone marrow transplant unit in Donna’s hospital. Patients on this unit receive inpatient treatment for months and they enjoy Zoe’s calming presence during their visits.
Donna and Zoe have recently added a new role to their life: allergen detection service dog. Donna has major allergies, and Zoe is being trained to detect allergens, starting with almonds. This training takes a long time, and the public access training is especially challenging.
Donna and Zoe are having difficulty transitioning from therapy dog to service dog because people still approach them and want to start a conversation, even though Zoe is wearing a vest that says “service dog in training.” They are both working on this transition, with the goal of Zoe being able to tell the difference between her therapy dog and service dog roles based on what she’s wearing.
Donna assures that Zoe loves to work and has a personality that enjoys being busy. Donna makes sure that she is not pushing Zoe too hard and that she has plenty of time to be a dog as well.
Zoe knows the difference between her therapy bandana and service dog vest, and her demeanor changes when she wears the bandana. She knows it’s time to go do some therapy work.
Thanks for listening to this episode, and I hope you enjoyed hearing about Zoe and Donna’s therapy work and their new role as a service dog team.
In this episode, we discuss …
- What a Guardian Mom is and how that experience has been.
- What Zoe enjoys about being a therapy dog and how they chose where to volunteer.
- Zoe’s recent training to become an allergy detection dog and what has been most challenging.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [02:01] Donna became interested in pet therapy while working as a nurse and eventually pursued it with Zoe.
- [03:00] Zoe’s trainer initially recommended her as a therapy dog despite her shyness as a puppy.
- [04:14] Donna explains her role as a guardian mom and Zoe’s upcoming spaying after one more litter.
- [05:08] Zoe and Donna provide therapy work at the bone marrow transplant unit in Donna’s hospital.
- [08:02] Donna and Zoe have added a new role as an allergen detection service dog, starting with almonds.
- [09:34] Donna and Zoe are working on transitioning from therapy dog to service dog with the help of Zoe’s vest.
- [11:00] Donna assures that Zoe loves to work and has a balanced life with time to be a dog.
- [12:11] Zoe recognizes the difference between her therapy bandana and service dog vest, knowing when to do therapy work.
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:
Rate, Review, and Follow the Podcast
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.