Interview Questions:

How long have you been in the program?
How long has your dog been in the program?
Why did you decide to begin therapy dog work?
Did you ever question your dog's ability to do therapy?
Did your dog go through any official training/certification class?
Did you have to teach any additional behaviors to your dog?
If so, how did you teach them?
Did your dog have any difficulties in learning certain behaviors?
Did you teach your dog entertaining tricks?
If so, which is the most entertaining?
Does your dog seem to enjoy therapy dog work?
If so, did he always?
If not, why do you still do it? Are you hoping that he will grow to enjoy it?
Do you believe any dog can become a therapy dog? Why or why not?

Email from Deirdre:

Hi Bethany, Sure, I would love to help you out with your project. I initially became interested in having Clancy become a therapy dog when I saw a tv show about it. Clancy is so loving, affectionate, and when people got a hug from Clancy they would always say that Clancy "made their day". I thought it would be a good idea to share him with lonely people in nursing homes, hospitals, etc. In 2003 I saw a sign up at a pet store for the Pet Therapy training program at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in West Roxbury. I signed up for a six week class. We met once a week and the trainer went over all the tasks that a therapy dog will be tested on in order to become certified. The program was run by "Therapy Dogs Internationals". Some of the tasks that the dogs were tested on were: 1) the ability to walk on a leash without pulling on it2) being able to stay calm around loud noises such as a metal pan falling on the ground (they want to make sure the dog doesn't panic if he/she hears some strange noise in the nursing home)3) being able to walk past food on the floor without eating it.4) being able to be around people in wheelchairs, walkers, and other medical equipment without getting nervous. 5) being gentle with people without jumping up on them6) being able to be around other dogs without getting into fights or acting aggressive (this is in case there are other pet therapy dogs in the nursing home at the same time) Clancy did not actually pass the test the first time because there were two large Rottweiler type of dogs there during the testing process. Clancy was not used to being around big dogs and did that "snarl" thing where he showed his teeth. So I got him used to being around big dogs and had him re-tested. He passed on the second try. We work mostly in nursing home settings. However, we've been to visit children at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in NYC (the children's cancer ward). While we were visiting NYC, a woman came up to me and said her 12 year old boy has a brain tumor and that he loves border collies. She asked me if I would take Clancy to visit her son in the cancer ward at Columbia Presbyterian. His "Make A Wish" was to see border collies in Ireland. So, the little boy was so excited to see Clancy and they cuddled in bed for a little while. It is so personally and emotionally satisfying to see Clancy bring so much joy to people. The children really like seeing him because they miss their own pets at home. We've also been to rehabilitation centers as well. Clancy enjoys the nursing home settings because they let him jump up on the bed and cuddle with the patients. Both he and the patients really like this. I hope this is helpful.Please let me know if you would like more information.
Thank you!Deirdre & Clancy