Did you know Therapy Dog organizations have Junior Handlers and that their requirements differ from adults?

In this 25th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sat down with Katelyn to hear about her experience as Junior Handler for Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). She recently turned 18 so she also let us in on what it takes to transition from Junior Handler to Handler and how that will open up different volunteer opportunities for her and her pup Ace.

Katelyn found about Therapy Dogs through her local American Kennel Club (AKC) friends who volunteer with their toy spaniels. She recognized that Ace would enjoy therapy work and began training him. After two year of volunteering, Katelyn has quite a bit to share about their experiences as a Therapy Dog team and what she and Ace enjoy the most.

In 2020, Katelyn also took on breeding beginning with a litter of Skye Terriers. Her experiences with Therapy Dog work have impacted how she raises her puppies and led to the development of what she calls “Puppy Culture”.

If you’re ready to get to hear about Katelyn and Ace’s journey as a Junior Handler Therapy Dog team, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • What it’s like to be a Junior Handler and how Katelyn’s opportunities will change when she can volunteer on her own.
  • Ace’s extreme love of people and how that has impacted the way that she raises her new puppies.
  • Katelyn’s history of competing with Ace and how it connects to her work as a Therapy Dog team and breeder.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:18] How Katelyn found out about Therapy Dog work through her AKC friends with toy spaniels.
  • [02:20] Katelyn talks about Ace’s love of jumping on, pawing, and kissing everyone he met and how she managed it.
  • [03:28] What it was like to test and volunteer as a Junior Handler and how her mom was involved.
  • [04:00] Katelyn discusses what she needs to do to transition from Junior Handler to Adult Handler through ATD.
  • [04:36] Why Katelyn enjoys visiting at the local college with Ace.
  • [05:23] Katelyn reflects on the stories she’s heard from the people that she’s met while volunteering.
  • [06:26] Ace lives up to his name and passed his Therapy Dog test.
  • [07:29] How being a Junior Handler has impacted where she’s able to visit.
  • [08:00] Katelyn’s theory of how socializing Ace as a puppy led to his excitement.
  • [09:49] How Katelyn now focuses on building a bond with the puppies before socializing them with others.
  • [10:22] The differences between how Katelyn raised Ace and how she is raising the puppies.
  • [10:45] Katelyn’s journey as a breeder starting with a littler of Skye Terriers in 2020.
  • [12:00] How being a Therapy Dog team has impacted the way she raises the puppies.
  • [13:13] Why Ace isn’t involved in the breeding and what her breeding goals are.
  • [13:52] Katelyn shares what she is looking for when selecting a family for the dogs she breeds.
  • [14:45] Her desire to be a good resource and follow along even after the puppies find their new homes.
  • [15:56] Katelyn’s perspective on the appropriateness of Sky Terriers as Therapy Dogs.
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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