Did you know that there is a special doggy holiday around the corner? April 11th is Dog Therapy Appreciation Day! Our canine pals fill many roles in our lives. They act as guardians, friends, companions, trail mates, and jogging buddies, to name just a few. However, one of Fido’s most important roles is being a therapy dog. In this article, a local McHenry, IL vet discusses therapy dogs.
What Is A Therapy Dog?
A therapy dog is a pooch that is trained to essentially comfort people. They can be found in many places, such as hospitals, retirement homes, and hospices. They are also often sent to disaster areas to help people cope with the devastation of trauma and loss.
The History Of Therapy Dogs
Fido first started working as a therapy dog back in 1976, when a chaplain brought a Golden Retriever to visit patients. Elaine Smith noticed the positive responses the patients had, and how much the dog comforted them, and started a program to bring specially trained dogs to institutions.
Therapy Vs. Service Dog
The distinctions between therapy dogs and service dogs can be a bit fuzzy. As a rule of thumb, therapy dogs can be petted and cuddled by a variety of people, while service dogs have just one human. However, many service dogs also act as therapy dogs for their owners, by providing comfort, friendship, and love to their two-legged pals.
Choosing Therapy Dogs
The breeds most often found working as therapy dogs are Golden Retrievers and Labradors. However, there are actually many different types of therapy dogs. Size and strength aren’t really important when determining if a certain pup is a good candidate: personality is what is crucial. Therapy dogs must be very friendly, as their job is really to cuddle people. Fido should also be calm, and enjoy being petted. Certain bad habits, such as jumping on people or pulling on a leash, will disqualify pooches if they are not rectified.
Therapy dogs have become so popular that many of them can now be found on college campuses. Fido can really help stressed-out students, and those who are struggling to adjust. As it turns out, college dogs have their own title: Therapy Fluffies. We love this new trend!
Please contact us, your McHenry, IL vet clinic, for all your dog’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!