A career changed Guide Dog can often thrive as a Therapy Dog and puppy raiser Hallie’s journey with Buddy is a great example.

In this 29th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sat down with Hallie to hear about her experiences as a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs. Currently, Hallie is raising Apgar to be a future Guide Dog, following in the steps of her previous puppies Quirt and Clarke, and shares why Buddy was career changed and what about their experience led her to train him to be a Therapy Dog working in practice with her at a psychiatric facility. When it turned out that Buddy wasn’t going to move forward in the Guide Dog program, Hallie wandered what she could have done differently while raising him and when she had the opportunity to adopt him, as his puppy raiser, she said yes. Going from training to be a Guide Dog to training for Animal Assisted Therapy had its own unique challenges, but Hallie was happy to find that Buddy really came into his own in this new role and that he developed an ability to work a crowd—bringing joy to everyone around him. Hallie is an excellent story teller and you will not want to miss the impactful moments of Buddy’s journey that she shared with me on this episode including a specific example of how she was able to help an individual rejoin their community through the important work of 1:1 modeling through involving them in Buddy’s grooming and discussing the impact it has on him as a dog. This individual was able to apply that experience to themself in a way that nobody else could teach. If you’re ready to learn more about what it’s like to be a Guide Dog puppy raiser and to provide Animal Assisted Therapy at a psychiatric hospital in Georgia, during a pandemic no-less, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Buddy’s hatred of crates and love of people led him to continue Lulu’s legacy.
  • What it can look like when a dog is able to thrive through a change in roles.
  • What Hallie finds most rewarding about being a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs and working in Animal Assisted Therapy.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:10] Hallie talks about her experience as a puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
  • [02:06] A Yellow Labrador named Lulu who started Hallie’s love for dogs and passed her Therapy Dog test at age 9.
  • [02:52] Hallie shares how Therapy Dogs have always been her heart ever since she was in school and learned about how these special animals can help individuals living with disabilities.
  • [04:10] The role Apgar and Buddy play in Hallie’s office and how they teach individuals about the differences between Service Dogs and Therapy Animals along with a rabbit, guinea pig, and mini horses.
  • [04:53] Her mom’s rule not to have any animals at her upcoming wedding and how she’s representing them instead.
  • [05:59] Buddy’s training journey to Guide Dog and his career change to pet and Therapy Dog.
  • [10:22] The “unsavory habits” Buddy has developed and why people love him for them.
  • [10:54] Hallie’s favorite story about how Buddy helped an individual re-enter his community through 1:1 modeling.
  • [18:55] Buddy’s love of attention and ability to work a crowd while thriving in Animal Assisted Therapy.
  • [21:28] The biggest challenge Buddy encountered in career changing from Guide Dog to pet therapy and how Hallie helped him to overcome it so that he knew that he was allowed to interact with people at work.
  • [24:35] How Animal Assisted Therapy has helped the patients that Hallie works with at the psychiatric hospital.
  • [26:10] What it’s been like working in psychiatric healthcare during COVID-19 and how Buddy has helped.
  • [26:55] The difference in Apgar’s role at work and his focus on office manners as part of his training.
  • [28:27] What’s next for Apgar in his training toward becoming a Guide Dog.
  • [29:30] Apgar’s opportunities if he decides that he doesn’t enjoy being a working dog.
  • [30:02] The popularity of career changed Guide Dogs for public adoption and how they still focus on finding the right fit.
  • [31:08] How Hallie and her mom jokingly “share custody” of Buddy to help with his separation anxiety.
  • [32:17] Hallie explains Gold Star Families and the role their dogs play as a skilled companion.
  • [33:58] The reminder that not every dog is cut out to be a Therapy Dog and that you have to be okay with that.
  • [35:17] A caution not to oversocialize your dog and examples of how you can train for different environments at home.
  • [36:35] The importance of learning how to read dog body language so that you can advocate for your dog.
  • [38:10] How dogs can smell cortisol and how their stress levels can go up as our stress levels go down.
  • [39:14] What Hallie finds rewarding about having a therapy animal and what she’s learned as a puppy raiser.
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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