Andy was abandoned in a parking lot in April of 2008. He was approximately 1 1/2 years old and was in terrible shape but rallied quickly to become a feisty boy with a tail that never stopped wagging. A coworker commented that he looked like a "Bette dog." She was so right. I wasn't looking for another dog at the time and vowed that I'd never have another male dog but he was definitely what I needed at the time and thereafter. He stole my heart and has been the perfect companion and, after training, has been a wonderful therapy dog. Andy and I visit the Veteran's Home and Ouachita Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center monthly and have volunteered at Med Camps of Louisiana, The Ouachita Parish Public Library, Monroe Safety Expo, Salvation Army Bell Ringing, The Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Home and Riverside Nursing Home. Andy loves his visits and entertains everyone with his tricks and happy tail.
Pet Therapy, commonly known as Animal Assisted Therapy, is a growing source of therapy where animals help people just by visiting with them. Imagine living your entire life with a beloved pet only to be made to give it up upon entering a retirement home. Or imagine being separated from your pet while being hospitalized and undergoing medical treatment for long periods of time. PAWS Therapy enriches these times by providing monthly visits to residents giving them the opportunity to simply hug, hold, or pet an animal.
In addition to retirement home and hospital visits, PAWS Therapy offers Pet Responsibility Education to children at local schools and public libraries. Our PAWS 4 Reading program aides children with reading disabilities by giving them someone to read to without any judgment toward their ability.
Service dogs are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) and are trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service dogs are not considered "pets."
Therapy dogs are not legally defined by federal law, but some states have laws defining therapy animals. They provide people with contact to animals, but are not limited to working with people who have disabilites. They are usually the personal pets of their handlers, and work with their handlers to provide services to others. Federal laws have no provisions for people to be accompanied by therapy animals in places of public accomodation that have "no pets" policies. Therapy animals usually are not service animals.
All of our PAWS Therapy teams consist of local volunteers and their personal pets. All animals have undergone strict personality screening, obedience training, and are certified by Therapy Dogs International or Delta Society. To become a PAWS Therapy team, it is a requirement your animal be certified by one of the national pet therapy organizations. Contact us today! We'll help you get certified so you can brighten lives with your companion animal.
There are many qualifications that determine whether your animal is ready to work in a therapy program. To qualify your pet in therapy, first and foremost you must consider your pet's personality, temperament, and behavior. Animal Assisted Activities can be a very rewarding experience for you, your pet, and the facility you visit but at the same time could have disastrous results if your pet is not ready. Your pet must enjoy meeting new people and get along well with other dogs.
In an effort to provide safe, enjoyable therapy visits, PAWS of NE Louisiana requires your animal to be evaluated and certified prior to beginning visits. OVDTC (Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club) in West Monroe, LA offers a 9-week Canine Good Citizen class that readies your dog for therapy work. Pre obedience training is mandatory before being accepted into this class and part of graduation does include certification by an evaluator of Therapy Dogs International. If you are interested in taking a beginner obedience class or Canine Good Citizen at OVDTC, please visit their website at www.ovdtc.org or call 318-343-9270.
Qualifications needed to pass the TDI therapy certification:
your dog should enjoy meeting strangers, actively approach strangers in a calm manner, and not jump up in friendly excitement. Your dog must be able to accept clumsy petting.
your dog should be able to obey the sit, stay, and down commands. You should be able to hand your dog over to a stranger and leave the room without your dog making a lot of noise and pulling. Your dog must be able to walk through pedestrian traffic while under control.
your dog should be clean and well groomed.Reaction to Distractions - your dog should remain calm and confident when faced with common distracting situations (wheelchairs, crutches, loud sounds, strange smells, etc.).
Fostering saves lives plain and simple.
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