Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Children’s hospital Therapy Dog team and a Pet Partners evaluator?

If so, then this is definitely the episode for you.

In this 20th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I had the privilege of speaking with Michelle and her nine-year-old Golden Retriever Buffy—(yes, she was named after the vampire slayer!)—a Children’s hospital Therapy Dog team since 2014.

Michelle gets really honest about what it was like for Buffy to hit adolescence after a year of training and how a therapy training course helped her to get back on track. If you’ve been discouraged on your journey, let them be an inspiration for the mindset needed to persevere, remove your stress, and continue working towards your goals.

If you’re ready to get to know a pup who cares so much that she won’t even slay a fly, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • Why she thought Buffy would enjoy being a Therapy Dog.
  • How your dog’s temperament impacts where you volunteer.
  • What it was like to become a Pet Partners evaluator.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [00:33] The secret to keeping your dog in front of the camera for virtual visits.
  • [03:00] The difference between theory and practice when it comes to Therapy Dog work.
  • [04:30] Buffy’s reaction to every person she met when she was only four-months-old.
  • [05:40] Michelle discusses their work volunteering as a Children’s hospital Therapy Dog and in a retirement home.
  • [06:42] Michelle gets honest about how adolescence impacted their training.
  • [07:17] Buffy’s first experience taking the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test.
  • [07:52] How Michelle changed her mindset to reduce stress and pressure on Buffy.
  • [08:41] The difference between Complex and Predictable skills on the Pet Partners test.
  • [10:00] How a dog can test differently over time but needs to enjoy the work.
  • [11:16] A live viewer asks how to get started in therapy work and Michelle suggests training options.
  • [12:34] The importance of taking a group class with your dog to help them learn focus.
  • [13:12] Michelle advises getting an idea of where you want to volunteer before choosing an organization.
  • [14:32] The importance of both you and your dog enjoying where you volunteer.
  • [15:45] Michelle gets real about how she gets nervous every time they re-test.
  • [15:00] The importance of re-testing over the years as dogs can change as they get older.
  • [17:14] Michelle discusses her experience being an evaluator for Pet Partners.
  • [18:23] How it can be rewarding to watch a team do the work to pass the evaluation.
  • [20:09] The surprising effect of therapy work in making Michelle more of a people person.
  • [22:02] Michelle’s advice to those interested in becoming a Therapy Dog team.

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.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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