Katie has a lot to share about her experiences getting started as a Therapy Dog team with her Golden Retriever, Archer. 

In this 68th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I talk with Katie about her experiences volunteering as a Therapy Dog team in New Jersey through Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs with her Golden Retriever Archer. Together, they visit assisted living facilities, hospitals, the library and a school. They are also very active on their Instagram account sharing tips for Therapy Dogs teams.

If you’re ready to learn more about Katie and Archer’s experiences, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • What the different AKC Therapy Dog titles are and which one Archer is working on.
  • How Archer transformed a woman who hadn’t been communicating.
  • Why it can be helpful to have additional skills like Katie’s ability to communicate with sign language.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [00:01:09] Katie introduces us. toherself and her dogs Jordy and Archer. Archer is registered as a Therapy Dog through Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs and passed his test in October 2020. They didn’t actually get to start doing therapy dog visits until August of 2021.
  • [00:02:06] Katie shares that they volunteer at three hospitals once a month, two nursing homes every week, and a library once a month. They also just started going to a grammar school and middle school and will be doing Therapy Dog visits four days a week.
  • [00:02:47] We talk about AKC therapy dog titles and their requirements as well as which one Archer is working on now.
  • [00:03:42] Katie shares that she registered through Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs because she wanted to volunteer at Goryeb Children’s Hospital but that hasn’t worked out yet due to the pandemic.
  • [00:04:34] Katie discovered the role of therapy dogs, and other working dogs, when she was a Girl Scout leader.
  • [00:05:35] Katie was looking for a Therapy Dog when she brought Archer home and worked with a breeder who chose the one who she thought would be the best fit.
  • [00:06:17] Katie shares some of the things she’s observed about Archer being a people dog but reveals that she wasn’t sure if he would pass the test as he was still a very playful puppy at 2 years and 3 months old. He passed.
  • [00:09:01] Katie answers a question from the comments about finding Therapy Dog training and shares that they just went through a regular obedience school to get Canine Good Citizen.
  • [00:10:22] Katie shares that she was eager to get started to volunteering so she took the initiative to start calling places which led to them volunteering at Morris View, an assisted living facility. She is now a captain there and they have six teams who volunteer.
  • [00:12:00] Katie fills me in on Woof Mail that their chapter of Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs sends out to connect them with facilities seeking volunteers.
  • [00:12:27] I discover that Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs was founded in New Jersey which probably explains why the three teams I’ve talked to who are registered with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs are all in New Jersey.
  • [00:12:59] We talk a bit about resources available from Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners and Alliance of Therapy Dogs. We also discuss how similar their exams are to the Canine Good Citizen exam.
  • [00:13:40] We discuss our separate training journeys, neither of which involved formal Therapy Dog training as we didn’t have it available to us.
  • [00:15:03] We discuss how not all dogs are ready to get started with pet therapy work at the same age.
  • [00:16:23] We discuss the list of therapy dog organizations on the AKC website and how sometimes smaller organizations are a good way to go depending on what you are looking for.
  • [00:17:43] Katie tells us about Archer’s first day volunteering as a school Therapy Dog and answers a question about how she helped him to adjust to young children squeaky and happy voices.
  • [00:18:52] Katie shares some general tips on how she got Archer used to different situations that he might encounter on visits.
  • [00:19:39] I ask Katie to share a story and she tells us about a woman in an assisted living facility who changed significantly due to Archer’s visits.
  • [00:22:09] Katie tells us that she knows sign language and that she enjoys having that as an option to reach those on visits who may not be able to otherwise communicate with her.
  • [00:23:43] Katie talks about how she and Archer love to advocate for therapy dogs and raise awareness and resources for those who may be interested in getting started as a Therapy Dog team.

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!

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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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