I attended a pre-interview with Marley and Hugo for Intermountain Therapy Animals. This was to make sure they would be suitable candidates for undergoing temperament testing to become certified therapy dogs. I went to a workshop talking all about therapy dogs, animal-assisted therapy, and how everything works. The following day, Marley and I went down to one of the rehab centers in the valley to do our test.
Now I had felt for a long time that Marley was ready in almost every category...except meeting another dog. Now don't get me wrong, Marley loves other dogs. But his first reaction is to bark and make alot of noise when he sees another dog while he is on-lead. So the test starts out easy. Loose leash walking, sit, down, stay, come...walk through a crowd, let a stranger pet him: he passed all these with flying colors. And then it came time for the "meeting of the dogs". The other dog was a very nice standard poodle...but when facing the dog across the room, with all of my stress traveling down the leash, Marley decided this was something Not Good. And so he barked. I redirected, taking him out of sight, and doing some quick obedience. And we faced off again. While better, I knew he was still not ready for the walk by. Finally, after about 3 min...I had calmed down, and so had Marley (hmmm...relationship?) We squared off and walked the dogs past each other without further incident.
At this point I was not sure what would happen. I had maintained complete control over Marley, but his loud vocalizations may make him not be able to pass his test. My evaluator told me that as long as we worked alone on visits, or only with dogs Marley is already familiar with, we would be fine. I was relived, as Marley tested SO well on every other aspect of the test. I can't wait to start doing visits with my fun-loving boy! I actually had him at a school presentation on Monday, with a crowd of 10 1st graders sitting around him, and he could not have loved it more!
Hugo tests the first weekend in March, and then I will have my therapy dogs ready for work!
Millie is still in phase 8. Lots of Stuff to Learn at doggie college. I can't wait to see what career she chooses.
Rafferty has not gotten very much mention here, because, well, there is just not much to say without sounding like an overly bragging mom. He has just been a near-perfect puppy so far...almost making me feel guilty for having such an easy boy as my fourth pup. He has been house trained for months, is a joy to take into public, a wonderful pup to have around the house, and just continues to remind me how lucky I am to be a puppy raiser.