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My 5 yo standard poodle just finished the evaluation process for Alliance of Therapy dogs. We began the process in December 2019 by completing a background check on me. The evaluation was to have taken place in April 2020. At the time I was visiting dog-friendly stores frequently in order to prepare for the evaluation.

Fast forward. A friend noticed an announcement on a local trainer's web site about hosting therapy dog evaluations last week, the day before they were to take place. I was able to take part in this along with 4 other dogs (2 golden retrievers, a German shepherd, and possibly a poodle mix). Our preparation consisted of a visit to Rural King for a half hour prior to the initial evaluation in order to desensitize to meeting strangers. The initial evaluation went fine, and our final community evaluation took place in a shopping mall on Sunday afternoon. There is still the application process to conclude, including health verification. Then we receive the ID card and collar tag and are insured by ATD while 'working.'

Other applicants already have a 'job' for their dogs: mental health counselor, special education teacher, whose husband has a second dog that assists in the county coroner's office. My friend who belongs to Pet Partners works with a local children's home.

My question is for those already engaged in therapy dog volunteering. Please share your experience with your therapy dog, where you volunteer and how often, and any plusses/minuses. There were a couple of small children who seemed to be intimidated by my dog's large size, though he was on best behavior. I'm excited to start volunteering but want to be realistic and to not put my dog in a difficult situation. (Photo is squirrel watching from the back porch; the squirrels aren't intimidated!)

View attachment 479270
Congratulations! Love both your dog and your porch.
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