Info... animal assisted therapy


Here are some more thoughts on temperament testing and animal assisted therapy, spinning off from the May 1 entry and comments.

Shelley mentioned feline temperament testing... although the canine temperament testing that I mentioned is often done in conjunction with dog shows or trials, I have not really found any feline temperament testing except that which the Delta Society does to evaluate animals for their suitability for animal assisted therapy work. Although the skills and aptitude tests given by Delta are based on one that was developed for dogs, Delta has alternate tests to be given so that they may also test and certify cats (and other species, too: there have been guinea pigs, rabbits, horses, goats, llamas, donkeys, potbellied pigs and birds certified as therapy animals).

If you are interested in more about Delta's Pet Partners Program and the skills test or aptitude test (this part is more like a temperament test) you can find out more at the Delta Society website.

Anne commented about her friend who visits an area nursing home with her poodle, and wondered if any of my dogs could be therapy dogs. As a matter of fact, one of them is a registered working therapy dog :) . Heidi has been on hiatus partly due to her anterior cruciate repair surgery in January of this year, and partly due to the other pets' health issues and my own work schedule. We are ready to resume our visits to one or two group homes sometime this month.

This might get a bit lengthy so we will finish up under MORE... Go there if you would like to know more about Heidi's job!

Heidi is certified as a therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International. Until we went on hiatus this past winter, we were visiting two small group homes that are part of Little City Foundation's Community Integrated Living Arrangements. Little City serves the needs of mentally, developmentally and physically challenged children and adults with both residential and non-residential programs. One of the homes that we visited had four young adult male residents, all wheelchair-bound and non-verbal. The other home had eight male and female residents ranging in age from about 20-40 with mild to moderate developmental challenges and few or no physical problems.

Heidi's job, as it turns out, is mostly just being there and being a good dog. For the wheelchair-bound residents, she and I and a staff member will usually get them to throw or push a squeaky toy ball to her. Heidi LOVES to play catch and she doesn't mind that these folks' handicaps don't let them actually THROW to her. She will also help with range of motion and coordination exercises by letting a resident brush her with a Zoom Groom, which is a flexible rubber brush (will not hurt if thrown by an impatient patient :) ).

Some of the residents at the other home also like to play catch with her and others just like to pet or brush her. Some like to try to give her obedience commands, with some help from me.

Sometimes it does not seem like we do much at all on a typical visit. But at the end of the day, after an hour at each home, Heidi is exhausted and I am pretty tired, too. But it is definitely a good kind of tired. There are days that have started out where it was all I could do to get myself motivated to get Heidi ready and drive over to the homes... but by the time we are done I am always so glad that we were there that day.

I honestly don't know who gets the most out of doing this. It has certainly been rewarding for me... it is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my life, despite my initial reservations that either I or the dog could handle it well. Heidi enjoys it... you can see her ears perk up and her excitement level go up a notch when she sees her blue "therapy stuff bag" and her red therapy dog collar. Heidi's boss gets a lot of positive feedback from residents and staff members... and he is justifiably proud of starting this program. It is still small... just two dog-handler teams. We still joke that he is in charge of the all-female, all-rottweiler therapy dog team :) which it has been from the start. Heidi and I are team #2; the original founding team Dayzy and Pam are area friends who we originally met online. Imagine that :) .

And I hope it is good for the rottweiler breed when people see and hear of rottweilers such as Heidi and Dayzy doing this kind of volunteer work.


Just a "HELLO" to let you know I was here! ((hugs)) :)

Awww, that is sooo great that you and Heidi are making a difference in people's lives! :)

Thanks for all the links. They are good things to read for pet owners of any kind. Therapy dogs are great, and I'm so proud of all your animals! Yay!

It is great you have your dog out in the public eye, cause like you said, it is good for people to see nice Rotties... I love when people play with Star, and then ask what she is and I can say Pit Bull. Most people usually look so suprised. I am sure most people recogonize what Heidi and Dayzy are breedwise, but still....


you should be so proud of yourself and Heidi! you are doing a wonderful service. I looked into taking Harley around to nursing homes b/c he has such a wonderful temperment but now that he's going blind I don't think it would be such a good idea. He gets a little jumpy when he can't tell whats going on or if anyone sneaks up on him...he's getting better at sniffing before reacting though ;)

I've been trying to think where I heard about the feline temperament testing. I know it was with the NZSPCA and I saw it on TV. I'm pretty sure it's less formal than the type you have, it doesn't come with a certificate and that. But instead is a way of testing various temerament and personality factors to ensure each animal goes to a home that suits it. It includes stuff like how long you can pat the cat before it gets annoyed (my cats never get annoyed).

The therapy dog stuff sounds wonderful. I think these kind of things are such win/win situations. ANials are such an important part of our lives :-D

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This page contains a single entry by published on May 5, 2002 5:22 PM.

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