Have you ever wondered what it might be like to become a new Therapy Dog evaluator for an organization?

In this 19th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I interviewed new Therapy Dog evaluator Elise about her experiences changing organizations with her Australian Shepherd Moosh and what it was like to become a T/O for Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

Believe it or not, Elise found us through her love of podcasts and when she commented on a previous episode about having an evaluator on the show, I couldn’t resist recruiting her—thankfully she agreed!

While Elise is one of ATD’s newest T/O’s, she’s been familiar with the role of therapy animals for many years and she and Moosh have volunteered together as a Therapy Dog team for the past six years and knows what to look for when it comes to making sure that a dog is enjoying the work. In fact, as Moosh gets older this is often on her mind as she checks in with him throughout each visit to make sure that he wants to be there. (Spoiler: he does.)

If you’re ready to hear what it’s like to be a evaluator and long-time therapy team, let’s dig in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • The mobility of testing with a national Therapy Dog organization.
  • How she finds herself rooting for new teams while testing them.
  • What Moosh loves about being a therapy dog.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:59] How Elise’s volunteer work with organizations like ElderFriends made her aware of therapy animals.
  • [03:05] Elise and Moosh’s experience testing with an organization called H.A.B.I.T. through a vet school.
  • [03:25] Elise’s decision to test through a national organization in case they moved again.
  • [04:06] The ATD testing process and how it includes a handling test and three observations.
  • [04:53] Elise’s experience becoming a new Therapy Dog evaluator for Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
  • [06:05] The ability for a Tester/Observer (T/O) to give advice and watch teams progress from observation to observation.
  • [06:50] How T/Os get invested in the progress of each new team and Elise’s discovery of cheering them on.
  • [08:08] Moosh’s love of group visits at elder care facilities and his ability to tell when it’s been enough.
  • [09:40] What Elise looks for to make sure Moosh is still enjoying his work as a Therapy Dog.
  • [11:06] Moosh’s job as “neutral dog” when Elise is volunteering as a T/O.
  • [11:57] A common theme for Therapy Dogs to be indifferent with other dogs but eager to see people.
  • [13:17] Elise reflects on how making someone else happy makes her happy.
  • [14:50] A reminder that the dog needs to really enjoy Therapy Dog work.

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!

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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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