Jessica and her Maltese Therapy Dog Hera know the secrets to volunteering with small dogs, and they’re here to share.
In this 80th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Jessica and her Maltese, Hera, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Jessica has been volunteering with therapy dogs for over 10 years, starting in 2012, and Hera is her second therapy dog. We discuss their experiences volunteering with PALS (Pet Access League Society), a local non-profit organization that enhances the lives of Calgarians through the human-animal bond.
Jessica and Hera have regular hospital visits and participate in special events at places like the library, science center, and other facilities to promote happiness and mental health. Throughout our chat, Jessica shares the happiness she’s witnessed during their visits. She also talks about her first therapy dog, Harry, who has since crossed the rainbow bridge, and how he touched the lives of dementia patients and tough patients alike.
We dive into the differences between Harry and Hera, their training processes, and how Jessica knew they would both be great therapy dogs. We also discuss the advantages of small therapy dogs like Maltese, as they are less intimidating and can easily fit in people’s laps or on beds.
Towards the end of our conversation, Jessica shares advice for those interested in becoming a therapy dog team, emphasizing the importance of being your dog’s advocate, allowing for rest days, and planning for their retirement. After listening to this episode, you’ll walk away with a deeper appreciation for therapy dogs, their impact on people’s lives, and valuable insights on how to start your own therapy dog journey.
In this episode, we discuss …
- How therapy dogs help improve the experience of patients and medical staff.
- What the benefits are of small dogs like Maltese in therapy work and how to train them.
- Why it’s important to advocate for your dog, including planning breaks and retirement.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.
- [00:56] Jessica tells us about herself, her therapy dog Hera, and how they volunteer with PALS, a local group in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
- [03:09] She talks about the amazing things therapy dogs can do and how they help people in hospitals.
- [04:59] Jessica compares her two therapy dogs, Harry and Hera, and how they’re different. She knew they’d be great therapy dogs because of their special qualities.
- [07:03] Jessica explains the training her dogs went through, like basic obedience, rally obedience, and getting used to new places.
- [10:56] She shares her love for Maltese dogs and talks about why training and socializing is important and how small therapy dogs have advantages because they’re less scary and can sit on people’s laps.
- [13:18] Jessica tells us about special moments when therapy dogs helped dementia patients remember things, made grumpy patients smile, and supported stressed doctors and nurses.
- [16:38] She stresses the need to be your dog’s helper, looking for signs of stress and giving them breaks between visits.
- [18:00] Jessica says it’s okay to try different places if the first one you volunteer at isn’t a good match for you or your dog.
- [19:16] She shares a funny story about a patient who thought Hera, dressed as a nurse for Halloween, was a toy from Amazon.
- [20:34] Hera loves volunteering at hospitals and storytimes, where she gets to be close to patients and kids. Jessica thinks Hera will also like helping out at the airport.
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:
- Canadian Kennel Club Rally Obedience
- On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
- PALS (Pet Access League Society)
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.
Disclosure: I may earn affiliate income from the links on this page. It comes at no extra cost to you but helps to support Sunny and Rylie's treat fund. They say thank you very much in advance.