#050: Therapy Dog stories with Nicole Ellis, CPDT-KA

by | September 26, 2022 | Therapy Dog Talk

Volunteering for nearly 15 years with her dog Maggie has CPDT-KA Nicole Ellis brimming with Therapy Dog stories to share.

In this 50th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I spoke with Nicole Ellis, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer based in Los Angeles, and her two amazing dogs, Maggie and Rossi. We focus on the incredible therapy dog work Nicole and Maggie have done together over the last 15 years, sharing heartwarming stories that will inspire and motivate.

Nicole tells us how she discovered therapy dog work through her dad’s influence in mental health and her love of volunteering. She trained Maggie, a Bichon Mini Poodle mix, for therapy work, and together they volunteered at various organizations such as Dream Street, Shriners, and Safe House. Nicole shares touching stories of the positive impact Maggie had on people of all ages, from children to seniors.

We also discuss how Nicole works with her other dog, Rossi, a 5-year-old Cavapoochon, who enjoys Fast Cat and scent work. Nicole emphasizes the importance of finding the right fit and activities for your dog, as well as making sure both you and your dog enjoy the work.

During our chat, we dive into the challenges of therapy dog work, such as the commitment required by some organizations, and the importance of understanding your dog’s stress signals. We also touch on the importance of maintaining senior dogs’ health and well-being, and Nicole shares her advice for those interested in becoming a therapy dog team.

After listening to this episode, you’ll gain valuable insights into the world of therapy dog work and the incredible experiences that Nicole and Maggie have shared. Their journey will inspire you to explore the rewarding world of volunteering with your four-legged companion.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • What inspired Nicole to start volunteering with her dog.
  • How she decided which organizations were a good fit.
  • Why she does different activities with Maggie than with her other dog, Rossi.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:38] Nicole shares her professional experience as a dog trainer, working with therapy dogs, service dogs, and basic obedience training, aiming to help people do more with their dogs.
  • [02:27] Emphasizing the importance of finding activities that your dog enjoys and working towards those goals.
  • [03:50] Nicole’s dad’s work in mental health and her love for volunteering led her to start therapy dog work with her friend.
  • [05:25] The positive impact Maggie, Nicole’s therapy dog, had on her grandma reveals the power of therapy dogs.
  • [07:41] Nicole and Maggie volunteered at Safe House, a program for children whose mothers escaped abusive situations, working with a professional therapist as part of their therapy.
  • [10:28] A visit from Nicole and Maggie led a woman in a senior center, who hadn’t talked in weeks, to open up about her own dog.
  • [13:00] Nicole discusses the commitment required for therapy dog work and finding the right organization to fit your lifestyle.
  • [15:30] The importance of maintaining senior dogs’ mental stimulation, training, and fitness.
  • [16:30] Knowing your dog’s stress signals and understanding their preferences is crucial for successful therapy dog work.
  • [20:06] Nicole shares advice for those interested in becoming a therapy dog team, including understanding your dog’s stress signals, training a settle on a mat, and starting with CGC (Canine Good Citizen) training.

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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