Ah, details, details - I did forgot the details, didn't I. I live in NC, would love a Standard poodle (love the chocolate & reds - but that's not a must). As far as type of therapy work - hmmm . . . my first choice would be to work with children - whether in hospitals, libraries, schools, etc.
all of poopla's dogs are therapy certified, don't know when they will have another litter, but they have blacks and browns and i think they are in your area, the Carolinas at least.. check them out, i LOVE their dogs!!
Ok... I'm not trying to crush the dream, I'm just trying to bring reality to the mix.
Have you ever worked with children or hospitalized adults before? Do you currently volunteer in a reading program or in a hospital. If not, you need to go and do these things BEFORE you get a dog and try to add it to the mix.
Next.... depending on the type of work you really feel drawn to do (and you will only know this once you get out there and start doing it), you might want to get a Mini and not a Standard. Many children are afraid of dogs and a Mini is just a more digestible size. A Mini can be put into a bed or lap more easily. Minis are also higher drive dogs so they are easier IMHO to teach cute tricks to.
Next... my advice is to get a White or Cream colored dog. I am out in public with my dogs a lot and hands down, kids are more drawn to the light colored Poodles than they are to the dark colors. Many kids are afraid of my Sabrina who is Black but they would gladly bury themselves into my Cream girl Izze.
Next... think about getting an older dog from rescue. If you get a puppy, it will likely be a couple of years before you can do therapy work. Even then you might find that your puppy is ill suited to the job (too energetic, too afraid, too dog aggressive etc). With an adult dog, what you see is what you get!
Finally, if you do end up with a puppy, you are going to want one with a certain type of temperament. You want to look for the following characteristics:
Not sound or movement sensitive
Not overly dominant or shy
Not high prey drive
One that wants to spend time with people naturally
One that likes to work with people (moderate retrieve to hand at 8 weeks)
Thanks cbrand for all your advice. I will definitely take everything you’ve said into consideration. I had never thought of the color being an issue for children. As far as therapy work, I am not going into this lightly. I realize that once I get a dog that it *may* not be suited for therapy work. I do know that there are knowledgeable breeders who are familiar with service/therapy animals and are very good at temperament testing. Although, that is definitely not a fool-proof way of choosing a dog - I know you are more likely to get one that is suited for that line of work than just randomly picking the cutest pup. I volunteered for a while with a guide dog agency and was introduced to so much while I was there. Although, the timing was not right for our family to bring a guide puppy into our home, it is something I plan on doing in the future. It has been a dream of mine to work with service dogs in some way, shape or form since I was a little girl. I also am not 100% sure what exactly I want to do in regards to therapy work - at the moment, working with children most appeals to me. Perhaps once I got into it my ideas might change or perhaps I will find it is not suited for me and my dog. First and foremost, the dog we get will be a part of our family. We want it to be with us as much as it can. We want a dog to go hiking, biking, camping, where ever we go. I grew up on a farm and have had just about every animal out there (that lives on a farm). I’ve had and lived around all shapes and sizes of dogs. Although, I love little dogs - I am drawn to big dogs. I am not getting a dog to be a therapy dog. I am getting a dog to love and be a member of my family that I hope to be able to train as a therapy dog. I am definitely open to the possibility of adopting an older dog if the right dog came into my life. But right now, I have three children with my youngest being 9 - I am at the point in my life where I am ready and willing to invest the time and energy a puppy will take. I look forward to going to training classes. I know there will be sleepless nights. But that is part of what I look forward to - working and raising a puppy. Experiencing the joys as they grow and learn and discover new things.
I better stop typing! I’ll be babbling all day. Sorry for the lengthy post! Frostfire - thanks for the tip. I will definitely look into Central Carolina Poodle club. Great idea!