Notes from taking Reggie to class...
Class 1-
Yesterday I took Reggie to his first class of Therapy Dog Certification for Dog B.O.N.E.S. Therapy. We went into a small room (hosted by Picture Perfect Pets) and I was the last to arrive so I just took an empty chair. All the other dogs and their owners were seated in a circle along the outside of the room, some against the walls and some against the mirrors. The main lady welcomed me and handed me a packet and a legal form to sign. Then she talked for a while about the company. She said many dogs work in a hospital setting with either children or the elderly, but some go into hospice homes or nursing homes or work as reading dogs and some just sit in a room for added comfort of the patient. After she finished talking we ran though a quick demonstration of a visit. We chose a phrase to signal to our dogs it was time to go visiting, so I chose “Visit Time.”
Visits go like this...We call out our phrase, take the dog, and make him/her stay still briefly or sit down outside the patient’s room. Then we ask if the patient would like a visit, and if they say yes then we enter. We have to walk the dog and position him/her in between the patient and ourselves. This way nothing can come from behind to scare the dog. Then the dog either sits or stands and the patient pets the dog. After a little while we eventually say goodbye and leave the room.
The group later tried the same routine but with the patient lying down. It went more or less the same for everyone, but Reggie was the smallest dog there. He will either need to be lifted up on the bed (I don’t know if that is safe) or will have to sit on my lap or be trained to but his front paws up on the bed. He is not very good in new situations so I will have to expose him to new things. He was very nervous the whole time we were there and the lady seemed slightly nervous about his behavior. The dog needs to feel comfortable too in each situation, otherwise it’s almost inhumane to stress them out. I think if I incorporate food he will be more willing, but I have to teach him to be friendlier because he often gets aggressive around food. We were told to work on the basic routine we learned this week and come back practiced for next week. I will work with Reggie and hope he becomes more comfortable.

Class 2-
Yesterday I took Reggie to his second class of Dog B.O.N.E.S. It was very embarrassing because he was very nervous in the beginning of class and decided to relieve himself in the middle of the room. I ran outside with him as someone else cleaned, and I came back to everyone staring at me. The only upside to the incident was that it segued into potential problems during a therapy visit. We were told to make sure we always brought necessary cleaning materials. The lady talked for a long time about therapy visits and Reggie sat pretty quietly under my chair. One striking comment of the class was that the dogs would have to learn the "Leave it" command to pass the certification class next week. Reggie doesn't leave anything, especially if it will taste good. In fact, he gets really mad any time you try to take something from him. So now I have to teach him the command in one week which will be challenging. Besides that, I actually think he will pass the test! He wasn't worried about the walker to the wheel chair which was surprising. Because he is little, I hold up him to the person so they can pet him. He isn't a huge fan of being held but he put up with it for a bit. I will practice with him this week on all the different requirements and hopefully he will pass the test next week!

Rockin' the blue :)
Rockin' the blue :)

Class 3-
Today was Reggie's final class which included the therapy dog certification test. I was expecting each dog to have a private test, but we all stayed in the same room the whole time. Another lady came to watch and certify the dogs- I believe she is the head of the organization. She went around to all the dogs and said hi to them. Reggie was nervous but he let her pet him and didn't "bite her head off" which was a requirement (not surprising). Then we all did our usual "visits" and all the dogs did pretty well. We went up to the wheel chair again, except this time there was bread in the middle of the floor. We were supposed to practice the "leave it" command but Reggie isn't too good at that yet. Thankfully I managed to keep him away from the bread. After the visits we just listened to more visiting tips and asked questions. Then each dog was rewarded a bandana and a certificate and business cards. I also bought Reggie a blue leash and a matching blue vest. He looks professional. I'm pretty surprised that he pass, but I'm proud of him! I will work on getting him more socialized and teach him some new tricks before taking him on his first real visit. Now I can really practice everything I've learned! I'm excited.

Graduation Day!
Graduation Day!