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Teddy has had a very eventful week and I just feel like sharing.

I've sent off for the Delta Society's Pet Partners home study course and I can't wait to get it. Then again, he can't even take the exam for another couple of months, so I'm glad I didn't pay for expedited shipping. LOL

I found a couple of documents on their website that showed the kinds of things that would be on the exam, so I've been keenly observing Teddy's behavior in different situations. I must say that I'm very impressed with his temperament and I think he will ace that exam.

1. Wheelchairs, crutches, etc.: Yesterday, he met two people in wheelchairs. I walked right up to them and explained that Teddy was a therapy dog in training and talked to them for a little while. After accepting a pat on the head, he just sat there and chilled out while we had our conversation. It was very cool. He has also encountered people on crutches, almost on a daily basis, and doesn't even seem to give them a second's thought.

2. Walking in a crowd of people.: This is another thing he does on an almost daily basis. I even take him to the most crowded part of Times Square, with tourists milling about and working people rushing to the subway or the bus, and he just acts like he belongs there (on the ground, I should add, not being carried by me). Not fazed at all. And the times he gets accidentally bumped by someone, he just scoots out of the way really fast, but it doesn't make him scared. I don't really think that a simulated crowd in an exam room even comes close to Teddy's real life experiences.

3. Awkward petting.: Today he met a very young girl in a stroller. He sat next to the stroller and let her pet him, which was more of a firm pat on the head. He didn't seem to mind at all. He's also had people pick him up and squeeze him and kiss him like a teddy bear, and one guy actually had his hands around Teddy's neck while he was talking to me. Not tightly, just kind of sitting there. Teddy just sat there the whole time.

I'm so excited about this and I'm looking forward to being a Pet Partners team. Teddy is so people-oriented, I think he will really enjoy it too.

The other thing I was thinking about has to do with police dogs. I had always thought that they were trained to be non-reactive to their surroundings unless they were given a command to attack or whatever. This afternoon, Teddy and I walked past a cop and his GSD. The dog went ballistic when he saw Teddy. Now, I don't know if Ted had given him a taunting look* or what, but it truly surprised me that the GSD reacted so strongly. The cop looked like he was having trouble restraining him. God forbid that dog should have gotten away from the cop! Teddy would have been kibble.

* Like he gives the GSD across the street, who then stands there (on his side of the fence) barking his head off while Ted just stands there staring at him. I don't think he's trying to challenge the GSD, I think he probably wants to play with him like he does with every other dog he encounters, but I don't think the GSD is friendly, so I don't even allow Teddy to go up to the fence for a quick sniff.

Teddy has an appointment to get groomed next Wednesday. I can't wait for that either. He seems to be matting more, so I guess his coat is probably starting to change. It doesn't seem to be lightening up too much though, which is nice. :)
 

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Lacey and I are working to become therapy dog certified too :) It sounds like Teddy is an amazing little guy with a great temperment for therapy work. I wish you both the best!
Can't wait to see his new "do".
 

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Aw, thanks. I wish you and Lacey all the best too!

I forgot to add one thing to the list of therapy dog exam stuff - I had a meeting in my office yesterday with a couple of my colleagues. One of them Teddy had met before, but the other one was a new person. The new person talked very loudly, and I was wondering if Teddy would react to that at all (her voice was making ME flinch - LOL). He just lay there on the floor under my chair and slept through the entire meeting.

Sometimes he seems like an old dog in a puppy suit. Can a dog be an "old soul"? LOL
 

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Woohoo! It's always so good to have poodles in animal assisted therapy. They're just so good at it, and really do change lives. I've been a Delta Pet Partner with Cosita and Liberty since 2002, and just can't seem to get enough of it. It's my passion in life. As a matter of fact, I became a Delta evaluator and instructor, and went on to get my graduate certificate in Animals and Human Health from Denver University. I also mentor a lot of new teams. So every time I hear of someone who wants to get into animal assisted therapy I just get all excited.

Marian, it sounds like you're doing everything just right. . . lots of exposure, making sure everything and everyone is a positive experience. You will never regret going into AAT. . . i see mini miracles every week, and your bond with your poodle will only grow as you see him make a difference in the lives of others.

As for the test, I think the thing that is the hardest for most animals is the neutral dog. You both start on opposite ends of the room, and walk towards each other. You have to stop in the middle to shake hands. The dog can't cross over to the other side of you to get to the other dog. If you're carrying it's a lot easier though. . . you can just hold him on your side and shake hands. I'd practice that though. It's a biggie. If he's less than 10 pounds you can carry him and walk through the crowded room with him in your arms. (Not like that's an option with Lacey though poodleaday, but she's around dogs so much that maybe the neutral dog won't be a big deal :) The only thing Teddy'd have to be on the ground for is walking on a loose lead. Carrying is easier, and if he's small enough, it'll help him feel safer when he's being petted by a crowd, and with the clumsy petting.

Very excited for you and Teddy! If you have any questions or if I can help in any way just let me know. I actually just published an animal assisted therapy book. If you're interested check out aatideas.com

One other thing I'm wondering...is there a Delta affiliate in your area? You learn soooo much more from going to a class. You get to see an actual evaluation, meet therapy animals and their handlers, hear their stories, and get to hang out with animal people! If not you'll be OK though. I'd just recommend the class over the book if you have the option.
 

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flufflvr: First of all, thank you so much for those words of encouragement. I could actually see myself following a similar route with continuing my education in the field of AAT or animal behavior. Or both!

I searched for a class on the Delta website but didn't see any in NY/NJ (which I thought was kind of odd). There is one entry on the calendar for April, but it's an evaluation day. I even checked Tennessee (we will be going there in late June to visit my parents) and Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Nada anywhere that would be do-able.

I would LOVE to attend a class instead of doing it all by myself. I think just being around other dogs in a class would help with the neutral dog thing.

However, I have to say that although Teddy always likes to meet new dogs, as he matures, he's a lot less likely to greet them exuberantly. Sometimes he does just pass by without giving the other dog a second glance. Sometimes he will look at the other dog, but if he makes a move toward them, I use 'leave it' or 'uh uh' and he keeps walking forward. He does seem to react to reactive dogs, like the two dachshunds we encountered today who seemed ready to tear his throat out. I guess those aren't exactly "neutral" dogs though, are they.

I take him almost everywhere I go. Today he went with me to Duane Reade (drug store), the Skechers store and Sephora--all on the floor. While I'm shopping or talking to a store clerk, he lays down (without being told to) and waits for me to move.

He makes me look like an expert trainer, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I should have added though, regarding those two belligerent dachshunds (and other dogs like them), Teddy doesn't react aggressively, he just seems like he wants to greet them to find out why they're so wound up. If allowed to meet, it usually ends up with everybody getting sniffed and going on their merry way. A couple of times he's been snapped at by older dogs, so I think that's helping him learn that it's not always a good idea to run up to a strange dog and try to play with them.

I just ordered a copy of your book. Can't wait to see it. Love the cover picture!
 

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Aww Teddy - what a sweetheart!!

:)I would not have guessed this the way he was wrestling with the kitty in those pics LMAO!! :)
 

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I know! They are so much like siblings, you would think they were from the same litter (now THAT would be something! LOL). Their rough housing has given me the opportunity to practice "leave it" with Teddy using something other than a discarded napkin. He gets it that when I say leave it, it means to move away. Their playing sounds like fighting, but it's just a lot of noise. There isn't any real aggression involved.

I wasn't sure if this would carry over to cats outside our home, but there is a little kitten at work. The building management keep a cat there to kill any mice that might wander into the building. Since the previous one passed away, they got a new one. Over the past couple of months, he has really warmed up to Teddy. He used to run from him, but he gradually started coming out and venturing closer and closer. Now, when he sees Teddy, he comes out and Teddy greets him and then starts pawing at him, and the kitten paws back. It's really cute, and I'm so glad the kitten can play with Teddy sometimes because I feel sorry for him living in the basement all alone at night.

I don't think Teddy would hurt a fly. OK, I take that back because he did actually kill a little flying insect at my sister's house not too long ago. But I don't think he would hurt another mammal. LOL
 

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Sounds like Teddy was made for this! The dachsunds definitely don't sound like they're neutral, and any dog would act that way. That's Liberty's hardest thing...she's just so friendly! The incident with the police dog totally freaks me out. I wonder if it was in training or something, that would be scary in normal circumstances, but for a dog that's been trained to fight? Yikes. I thought they were so well in control that the officer could call them off in the middle of a fight and the dog would release. Hmmmm

What a bummer that there are no Delta affiliates in your area. They're such a good support. That's OK though...knowing each other online will be great for being a sounding board and bouncing ideas and stories off of each other.

The picture on the front of the book is actually Liberty, the very first week I had her. I brought her to see the people I visited with Cosita, because they knew I was getting a dog and realllllly wanted to meet her. She wasn't certified yet, or I wouldn't have been able to take the picture because of confidentiality. Since we were there unofficially, I took the picture, printed it out on my computer and brought it back to her. She loved it, and when she passed away (which is a story that brings tears to my eyes, but is kind of long) her daughter gave it to me.

lol about the picture on the front! When I got Liberty she had a HUGE topknot, and her face was super hairy. You couldn't see her eyes at all. I didn't have clippers yet, and I had no idea what I was doing, so I just started hacking away with a pair of scissors, because I wanted to see her eyes and know what she was thinking. Thus the horrible groom. . . she doesn't even look like a spoo. Most people don't even recognize her when they see this picture because she looks so different now. I sent 3 possible cover pictures to the graphic designer, and that's the one she chose to work with. I love it because it brings back so many memories, you can just see how much Liberty loves doing this, and how much Kathleen loved her, but that groom....Aaack!
 

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I think we were both made for this. When I was a kid, my church group used to visit area nursing homes once or twice a month. I always dreaded it, but once I got there and we started singing or playing games or talking to the residents, I really enjoyed it. I also love making people smile. There was a woman I used to see every day before work. I would smile and say "good morning" and one day she told me that it made her day when I smiled at her. She said something like, "you have such a beautiful smile--and that's your gift from God". I had been thinking about ways to put that to good use and when Teddy came along and a little research opened up a whole new world to me, I knew it was kind of our calling to do it together.

I was wondering if that was her in the picture, but she didn't quite look the same as she does now. That's a wonderful story about the picture. I'm tearing up just thinking about it, and I don't even know the whole story. I'm a sap that way. :)

The police dog thing really freaked me out, but thinking about it now, it did seem a little on the small side for a GSD, so maybe it was in training. I wouldn't think they would place a dog in training in the middle of one of the busiest parts of midtown Manhattan though. That seems a little irresponsible.
 

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Charly is a therapy dog for the Red cross.
We go to hospice one a week it's so much fun.

The people there love him and he loves them.
 

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That's really nice. I bet Charly thinks of it as "his" time being away from the girls, doing his own thing.
 

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I just did a little more searching on the internet (outside of Delta's website, which appears to be having issues with its affiliates database, which might explain why I didn't find anything). Anyhoo, the ASPCA is an affiliate and does offer courses and exams. They're not really all that convenient for me though. I'll keep looking.
 

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Charly is a therapy dog for the Red cross.
We go to hospice one a week it's so much fun.

The people there love him and he loves them.
I bet they do love each other. . . Way to go Charly for making so many people happy. I really enjoy visiting hospice clients too. Very rewarding, but hard sometimes. We've become close to some of them, and we always miss them when they're gone. Liberty still pulls me toward some of the rooms of her favorite people who have passed away.

Winnow, are there lots of therapy teams there in Iceland? I know next to nothing about how it's set up in other countries. I just think it's cool to see that AAT is world wide. It used to be that the medical community wouldn't let them in because of germs and stuff. We've sure come far.
 
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