December 28, 2020

I remember my wife telling me many years ago that I should take the kids (Ally and Jason) to learn more of a program for dogs called “therapy training”. So I packed up the car with the kids and our one year old dog, Morkie, and off we went. Once we got to the training location, my dog was horrible! Morkie started barking at the other dogs because he tends to have a “Napoleon Complex” of letting everyone know that he is there and in charge, even though he is the smallest dog in the facility.

After he calmed down, we had a long presentation of the benefits of therapy dogs for both the owner and the people that are in the hospital or other medical facility. After the presentation, they asked us if anyone would like to try and get “certified” today with your dog. Of course, my kids and I said yes – even though my dog had zero training for anything. We had no idea what was required to get Morkie “certified” as a therapy dog but found out there were ten tests that he had to pass.

Some of the tests included (1) sitting on command; (2) staying on command; (3) not going nuts when the handler (i.e. me) left the room and he stayed in a sitting position; (4) not freaking out with the noise of a walker or cane was near him; and (5) not picking up anything off the ground, such as a needle or hospital waste, when he walked by something. Needless to say, my kids and I thought there was no way that Morkie was going to pass all ten of the tests as he was not the best behaved dog. Somehow, Morkie decided he wanted to do this and he passed on his first try! When we came home later that day (with a “certified therapy dog”) and told my wife, she was shocked. I remember her telling us that we were only supposed to go there to find out more about the therapy training program…..not to get him certified already!

What ended up as somewhat of mistake has been one of the most enjoyable things that I have done as a volunteer for the past 9 plus years. So, if any of you are wondering what to do with your pets, consider the joy of getting them certified as a therapy animal.

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