#048: Lena and her First Responder Therapy Dog Birdie

by | September 16, 2022 | Therapy Dog Talk

Lena and her First Responder Therapy Dog Birdie

Lena and her Sheepadoodle Birdie are gearing up for base camps and fire season as a First Responder Therapy Dog team.

In this 48th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Lena, Associate Director on the board at First Responder Therapy Dogs, and her adorable Sheepadoodle, Birdie, about their incredible volunteer work with First Responder Therapy Dogs and Alliance of Therapy Dogs in Northern California. We focus on their experiences at base camps during fire season, providing emotional comfort to firefighters.

Lena shares her personal connection to therapy dogs, having experienced their positive impact while being treated for Chron’s Disease as a child. With a special place in her heart for first responders, Lena and Birdie dedicate their time to helping those on the front lines.

Throughout their journey, Lena and Birdie visit various locations, including base camps, hospitals, and schools. Lena emphasizes the immense honor she feels working with first responders and the significant impact they make. We discuss the importance of understanding and advocating for your dog, as they can’t speak for themselves.

We also talk about the preparation and gear needed for their visits to base camps, such as Birdie’s shoes, vest, trading cards, and first aid kit. Lena encourages other therapy dog teams to join First Responder Therapy Dogs and shares tips on how to prepare for their observations.

After listening to this episode, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges of volunteering with a therapy dog for first responders. You’ll also learn valuable insights on how to prepare your furry friend for this meaningful work.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Lena found out about Therapy Dogs through her own experiences.
  • What you can do to prepare your dog to volunteer with first responders.
  • Why helping first responders is personal for Lena.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:27] Lena and her Sheepadoodle, Birdie, have been volunteering as a therapy dog team since May 2021, focusing on first responders.
  • [01:50] Lena discovered therapy dogs during her childhood hospital stays for Chron’s disease.
  • [03:16] Birdie’s main role is to support Lena after her previous dog, Luke, passed away, helping her manage Chron’s flare-ups.
  • [03:48] Noticing Birdie’s loving nature, Lena decided to train and become a therapy dog team.
  • [04:42] Lena and Birdie typically volunteer 3-4 times per week but are currently volunteering once per week due to health issues and fire season preparations.
  • [06:13] Lena and Birdie initially failed their therapy dog test, which led to more training and the realization that mistakes can be overcome.
  • [07:17] Birdie became a therapy dog at one year and four months old, and they’ve completed over 100 visits together.
  • [07:57] Lena feels a deep connection with first responders and sees the positive impact she and Birdie make on their mental health.
  • [09:02] Lena shares a glimpse of what firefighters experience at base camp during fire season in Northern California.
  • [12:08] Lena encourages teams to join First Responder Therapy Dogs and shares tips on preparing for their observations, such as exposing dogs to sirens and other noises.

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.

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