#088: School Therapy Dog Team Bree and Mickey

by | June 19, 2023 | Therapy Dog Talk

Therapy Dog Talk - Bree + Mickey

Bree was surprised to find that her rescue dog Mickey was the perfect fit for a School Therapy Dog.

In this 88th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I had the privilege of speaking with Bree Long. Once a School Psychologist, Bree now dedicates her time to being a volunteer Therapy Dog handler, working alongside her rescue, a German Shepherd mix named Mickey.

Initially, Bree adopted Mickey from The Animal Pad, a rescue center in Southern California, with the idea that he would be a good companion for her purebred Labrador, Gunner. Ironically, while many might assume a Labrador to be an ideal Therapy Dog, Mickey’s calm demeanor made him a better fit for the role.

Bree and Mickey were inseparable in her work as a School Psychologist, and even now, they continue to positively influence school children through volunteer activities. Although their role has changed since Bree left her professional role, they remain committed to Animal-Assisted Activities designed to foster children’s interpersonal skills.

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Importantly, Bree emphasizes the need to understand and respect a Therapy Dog’s boundaries. Mickey communicates his needs in subtle ways, such as hiding his nose under a bookshelf when he needs a break. Recognizing and responding to these cues has become a crucial part of their success as a team.

Having experienced firsthand the transformative impact of Therapy Dogs in schools, Bree is keen to share her knowledge and insights. In this episode, she outlines the process she followed to certify Mickey through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and integrate him into the school environment.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in training their dog to join them as a School Therapy Dog, either in Animal-Assisted Education or through volunteer Animal-Assisted Activities. You might just find that your own pup is perfect for the task!

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How Bree was surprised that it was her rescue who was the right fit for Therapy Dog work.
  • Why it’s important to recognize your dog’s boundaries and know when they need a break.
  • Where Bree has found ideas for Animal-Assisted Activities and which one is her favorite.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.

  • [00:00:46] Bree and her therapy dog, Mickey, have been working as a team since September 2021.
  • [00:01:15] Bree talks about her past as a School Psychologist and how she found her love for therapy dogs.
  • [00:02:21] Bree shares Mickey’s journey from being a rescue dog to becoming a certified therapy dog.
  • [00:03:31] Bree has another dog, a Lab named Gunner, who is more energetic than Mickey.
  • [00:05:04] We chat about our shared experience of adopting dogs from The Animal Pad.
  • [00:06:21] Mickey’s friendly and patient nature, especially around kids, made Bree believe he’d make a great therapy dog.
  • [00:09:56] Bree explains that Mickey used to come to work with her and she learned his boundaries, discovering he’s a “twice a week kind of dog.”
  • [00:11:47] Bree and Mickey do animal-assisted activities like “Bucket Fillers” and goal-setting exercises.
  • [00:17:35] Bree’s favorite memory is bringing Mickey into a classroom for special needs students, where he comforted a non-verbal, mostly blind student.
  • [00:20:11] Bree dreams of spreading the word about the benefits of therapy dog teams in schools and is ready to offer advice and resources.

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:

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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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