For Lindsay, becoming a school therapy dog team with her Blue Merle Aussiedoodle Tucker was challenging but worth it.
In this 46th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I spoke with Lindsay, a special education teacher in New Jersey, about her experiences working with her Blue Merle Aussiedoodle Tucker as a school therapy dog team.
Having seen therapy dogs in action during summer school, Lindsay knew that she was interested in pursuing training her own dog but with a high-energy breed she also knew that they had quite a bit of training ahead of them. Thankfully, she found a Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs evaluator who also holds classes in her area for training therapy dogs.
After two years of training, Tucker became a Therapy Dog and now accompanies Lindsay at school where she’s noticed the visible difference he’s made with the kids and the staff.
If you’re ready to learn more about Lindsay’s work with Tucker, let’s dive in:
In this episode, we discuss …
- Why Lindsay knew that her Aussiedoodle needed a job—and gave him two.
- What she did to help prepare Tucker to be a School Therapy Dog.
- How’s she’s implemented Tucker’s talking pet buttons at school.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [01:36] Lindsay shares how much her dog Tucker loves going to school as a Therapy Dog.
- [02:05] Lindsay knew when she brought home an Aussiedoodle that he was a mixture of two high energy and smart breeds which meant that he would need a job. He has two—talking buttons and school therapy dog.
- [02:52] As a teacher, Lindsay was familiar with Therapy Dogs as they would always visit the kids during the summer school program that she taught in. She saw the impact that they made on the kids’ moods and knew that she wanted to get a dog who could work with her.
- [03:23] Lindsay shares what she was looking for in a dog before bringing Tucker home—calm and a good companion.
- [03:47] Lindsay would like to volunteer with Tucker at children’s hospitals but needs to do it during school breaks due to their schedule throughout the school year.
- [04:00] Lindsay shares what it was like to start bringing Tucker to school including what they needed to do to prepare the kids as well as getting Tucker acclimated.
- [05:08] Tucker changes the mood of the kids that Lindsay works with while they complete their work which is helpful for their learning process.
- [05:27] Lindsay and Tucker began with basic training through Kathy Santo with the knowledge that Therapy Dog work was their goal but a desire to be fully grounded before beginning a pet therapy specific training class.
- [06:34] Tucker was two when he passed his Therapy Dog evaluation through Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs.
- [07:08] Lindsay mentions that Tucker can be wild at home at time but that he knows he needs to behave differently when he is at school with her.
- [07:18] I mention how the only other dog I know who is registered through Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs also works in education in New Jersey—Cole the Deaf Dog.
- [08:18] Lindsay shares how she was nervous about Tucker’s energy levels and barking but that it hasn’t been an issue and that her school counselor loves his energy.
- [09:18] Lindsay loves that bringing Tucker to work benefits the staff in addition to the kids. She can see a visible impact on both when Tucker is present.
- [10:06] Tucker has a harness that he wears at school which helps him know that his behavior needs to be different from when he’s in pet mode at home.
- [10:48] Lindsay talks about the different talking pet buttons that Tucker has at school and how she’s tailored them for that environment.
- [11:15] Tucker has quite a few other creature comforts at school including his crate, bed, a bone, toys and a big yard to play in with the kids when they earn free time.
- [12:00] Lindsay’s advice to aspiring Therapy Dog teams is to have patience. She advises that it can feel like a tough, challenging process but that in the end it’s worth it.
- [13:06] We talk about what it’s like for Lindsay to balance her relationship with Tucker at school and at home and how she supports him on challenging days.
- [14:51] A viewer chimes in that they will also be bringing their dog to school and Lindsay reflects on Tucker’s favorite person at school who always has the good treats.
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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