From the time
|The day she chose us|
We also spent a lot of time working with her on obedience basics. We went to puppy preschool and worked with her just about every day. She has sit-stay down pat. We're fortunate to have a place where we could take her for supervised small dog play hour. I'm not a big fan of dog parks where you never know what kind of dog (or owner) you're going to encounter.
|Kendall and Riley, her brother|
There are two things your dog has to have in order to make a good Pet Partners dog - the right temperament and the ability to follow your commands. Your dog has to be under control at all times.
Once Kendall was over 1 year old, I started looking for a program to help move us along the path to allow us to visit in hospitals and nursing homes. I found the AAI program through the Oregon Humane Society. They are an affiliate of the Delta Society. I signed up for their day-long training course and ordered the necessary manual. You have an option of taking the class over the course of a few weeks, taking it in one looooooong day, or taking it as a home-study course if no courses are offered in your area. After we completed the course there was still a lot of work to do.
Every Pet Partners team hopeful needs to go through an extensive evaluation where they evaluate the human and the canine ends of the leash. There's a skills test and an aptitude test. There are even volunteer actors who play the role of clumsy people or people in wheelchairs to see how you and your dog will react. There's no room for error and a kiss from Kendall disqualified us the first time we tested. We were offered the opportunity to retest two months later, so we worked really hard on our skills. We went to the local mall countless times to meet and greet as many people as we could so that we could work on meeting new people without having her jump up on them. I'd like to say that Kendall is good at not jumping 100% of the time, but I'd be lying. I'm just very careful in how I handle her when presented with that situation. We passed the evaluation with no problem the second time around.
|Ready to volunteer|
The work doesn't stop there, though. I'll blog later about what it takes to get ready for a visit, what happens during our visits, and all of the other wonderful things that go on when volunteering as a Pet Partners team. If you're interested in becoming a team with your dog, you can find out more information on the Delta Society web page.