The following people and their dogs graduated recently from the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association’s sixth-week Therapy Dog Training:
Peggy Anderholm and her dog, Vivian; Jayne Corneliusen and Chloe; Chelsea Enright and Sienna; Carolyn Jacobs and Lily; Ethan Larson and Diego; and Carol Picard and Belle.
They completed volunteer training based on standards of practice through materials from Delta Society’s Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy Team Training Course, Therapy Dog International, Therapy Dogs Inc. and the 4-H Dog Therapy Program.
The dogs have passed basic health screening and a Therapy Dog Skills and Aptitude Test, and some will be certified as AKC Canine Good Citizens.
Therapy dogs program
Therapy Dogs is a volunteer group, in partnership with the Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association, organized to provide qualified handlers and their therapy dogs for visitations to skilled nursing facilities, schools, hospitals, libraries, rehabilitation centers, hospices, Boys and Girls Clubs, juvenile detention and treatment centers.
The primary objective of the therapy dog and handler is to provide comfort and companionship by sharing the dog with the patients or clientele they visit. This is done in a way that increases emotional well-being, promotes healing and improves the quality of life for the people being visited and the staff members who care for these people.
The dogs bring joy to a long day, provide a happy subject for conversation, and rekindle memories of long ago pets. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching and talking with the animals, clients’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved and depression is eased.
Volunteer handlers and their dogs come from Beltrami County and surrounding areas. The local therapy dog program was begun in 2000 by a group of 4-H’ers and 4-H leaders and is headquartered in Bemidji.
Canine membership includes both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. All dogs are trained, then tested and evaluated for therapy dog work. While many dogs are good pets in the home, not all dogs are qualified or have the temperament suited to be a therapy dog. Standards pertaining to the temperament of the potential therapy dog are extremely high.
Currently all dogs with the therapy dog program provide emotional support only and do not have the same functions as assistance dogs or service dogs, which at times are referred to as therapy dogs.
The Therapy Dog Course has traditionally been offered in the spring and fall of the year. For details or to inquire about participating, call Tracy Parthun at 766-4935, or visit the website www.paulbunyandogtraining.com.