The Secret Life of a Therapy Dog

Hello! My name is Arya, and I am one of the furry members of Warwick Agency. You will most likely meet me if you stop by the office because I’m very friendly and love saying hello! I spend most of my time sleeping or hanging out in our dog-friendly office with the humans and my other dog friends, Gambit and Priscilla.

One thing has changed for me recently, though. I am now a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International (TDI). My human, Bret, has big plans for me to visit hospices and children’s hospitals in the future.

I’m proud of myself because becoming a therapy dog isn’t for every dog! First of all, TDI has a big list of requirements for potential therapy dogs.  On our test day, we have to be able to complete thirteen tests in two testing phases.

Testing Phase I

therapy dog at Warwick Agency

In Phase I all the dogs being tested are tested together in a big group. This is hard because being a dog in a room full of new friends is fun! Instead of playing, we all obediently line up with our humans and enter as if we were walking to a hospital welcome desk. The people at TDI make sure we are comfortable with human touch, being left with a stranger, and the commands “sit/stay,” “down/stay,” and “come.”

Of course, one of the most important parts is making sure we are friendly. TDI tests for our willingness to approach people and receive pets. (What dog wouldn’t want that?!)

Testing Phase II

In Phase II each dog is tested individually for calmness and focus. TDI has us walk and heel with our owners while various distractions are happening. These distractions include someone passing us on crutches or a bicycle, loud noises (like a vacuum cleaner), people talking and waving, stopping to interact with someone with another dog, and children playing. (Did that little girl just throw a ball?!)

TDI also want to make sure that if my human and I pass a piece of food on the ground (yum!) that I will ignore it if Bret says, “leave it.” Talk about self-control!

It’s not always easy, but it’s very important for us therapy dogs to be well-trained. Any of these situations could happen in a hospital or nursing home, and we need to be on our best behavior. We’re here for the humans, after all, and we have an important job to do.

I for one can’t wait to get out there to meet and love on these people. Bret says that one of reasons he thought I’d make a good therapy dog was because of my sweet personality and empathy. Even before testing to be a therapy dog, if I thought a person was sad, I’d put my head on their lap and look up at their face to remind them that I’m here for them. I guess I just like making people feel better!

More Information

If you want to learn more about Therapy Dogs International and what it takes to become a therapy dog, you can visit their website here.

You can also visit me or my humans anytime at Warwick Agency in Brookfield and experience first-hand what a good dog I am! I love meeting new people, and if you have any insurance questions, we’re here for that stuff, too!

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