Being a Junior Therapy Dog team with her pup Millie is the beginning of a dog-centered career for Holden.
In this 36th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I spoke with Holden and Millie—a Junior Therapy Dog team in College Station, Texas, with over 100 visits so far. Holden fell in love with dogs in 4th grade while seeing Therapy Dogs assist college students with stress relief and began dreaming of a career working with dogs. Three years later, she had the opportunity to learn more about what it would take to volunteer with a dog when Aggieland Pets with a Purpose visited her school library and she decided pet therapy would be a great place to start learning how to train and work with dogs.
Now 17, and getting ready to enter her senior year of high school, Holden has her sights set on working with either Facility Dogs or Therapy Dogs. If you have advice on how she can continue down this journey, she would love for you to reach out to her through Millie’s Instagram account: @milliethetherapydog. Before you run off to give her a follow, make sure you check out the episode to hear how Holden and Millie are impacting those they visit in memory care as well as a coveted list of what items they find essential to take with them on their dog therapy visits and how they prepare for it all.
If you’re ready to take in Holden’s enthusiasm and hear her story, let’s dive in:
In this episode, we discuss …
- How Holden’s first experience with Therapy Dogs inspired her to work with dogs.
- What it’s like to connect with residents in memory care and how they’ve impacted Holden.
- An important reminder to know your dog’s limits and be ready to advocate for them.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [01:44] Holden remembers seeing Therapy Dogs in action while handing out bubble gum at Texas A&M.
- [02:09] Seeing Therapy Dogs providing stress relief to college students inspired 4th grade Holden to dream of becoming a Certified Dog Trainer.
- [02:25] In 6th grade, Holden found a book called Until Tuesday about a Service Dog named Tuesday and how he was trained for his person that further fueled her fire.
- [02:52] A year later, Holden talked to her parents about becoming a Therapy Dog handler after the organization Aggieland Pets with a Purpose visited her school library.
- [03:18] Holden’s pivot towards finding a career working with Facility Dogs or Therapy Dogs.
- [03:43] Millie joined Holden and her family at seven weeks old and they began working with a trainer.
- [04:21] Holden and Millie have been a Junior Therapy Dog team for 3 years beginning at the ages of 14 and 1.
- [04:33] The impact of the pandemic on volunteering and their forced 13 month break with the exception of a few creative visits through the exterior facility windows.
- [04:59] We celebrate Holden and Millie passing 100 visits.
- [05:16] What it’s like to be a Junior Therapy Dog team through Aggieland Pets with a Purpose and Holden’s love of her mom joining them on visits.
- [05:46] Holden reminisces on her surprise at how quickly Millie picked up on her training.
- [06:15] Millie knows how to work a room and check in with every person in the room before focusing on 1:1 time.
- [06:46] Holden’s love of meeting people at the nursing homes and making friends with the residents.
- [07:45] Advice to be prepared for anything on visits, expect to get attached, and a reminder that you need to understand your dog’s limits.
- [08:29] In addition to a lint roller, Holden lists dog booties, bandanas, a dog bowl, water, a binder with notes from residents and a visit log, and a bag of the “good treats” and the kibble as staples for their Therapy Dog go bag.
- [09:03] Holden says her mom will still come with her after she turns 18 because they enjoy making visits together.
- [09:15] If you know anything about career options with facility dogs, Holden would love for you to reach out to help her pinpoint what she wants to do and what she might major in.
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!
Mentioned in this episode:
- Aggieland Pets with a Purpose
- Hound Dog Fitness
- Pawsitive Pointers
- Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
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