The use of dogs in all types of therapy is becoming more and more popular. It has been scientifically proven that being around pets has many healthful benefits for humans, including having a calming effect, lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. Therapy dogs are often dispatched to locations where natural disasters have occurred, to give comfort to the survivors. They are also frequent and very welcome visitors at hospitals and nursing homes. Additionally, there are programs like R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) that help children improving their communication and reading skills by reading to a dog.
It should be noted that therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are trained to do very specific tasks for their individual disabled owners. Therapy dogs do not perform such tasks; instead, they are present primarily to provide comfort and companionship.
To be welcomed into the above – or any other – environment where therapy dogs are useful, a dog must first be certified. The first step in this process is the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program, offered by the American Kennel Club. Dogs who pass the CGC test have demonstrated that they accept friendly strangers, sit politely for petting, are capable of walking on a loose lead, even through a crowd, and react appropriately to distractions and other dogs, among other things.
Once a dog has become a Canine Good Citizen, more training, and eventual Therapy Dog Certification, can be obtained through organizations such as Pet Partners (formerly known as the Delta Society), Therapy Dogs, Inc. or Therapy Dogs International. Regardless of whether you choose to give back to the community by visiting schools, hospitals, nursing homes or disaster sites after your training, you will still end up with a beautifully trained dog that is a joy to be around!
It has been our experience that rescued Samoyeds are grateful Samoyeds, and that they are particularly “open-