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 Polar goes everywhere!

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Polar
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Join date : 2012-02-25
Location : Castle Rock, CO

PostSubject: Polar goes everywhere!   Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:00 pm

It's been a few months since my last visit, so I figure it's time for a little update on Polar.

First of all, Polar has gone through the screening process at the Children's Hospital Colorado to become one of their therapy dogs. The waitlisting took about one year, and the screening took six months, but we finally did it. There are about 70 therapy dogs volunteering at the Children's Hospital, as far as I know, Polar is the only northern breed in the program. Since November we've been volunteering twice a month at the Children's Hospital (I'm her handler), visiting the patients and their parents in the hospital rooms. She's a big hit with the children since "she's so fluffy"! She also loves to visit the children, she likes all the attention she gets. While she generally doesn't like to get into her hiking harness and will avoid it, she always willingly sticks her head and lifts her legs to get into her "uniform" when we go visit the hospital. Due to privacy concerns we are not allow to take any photos when Polar is visiting, so I just have a couple of shots of her in her "uniform" at home and one outside the hospital.













So with a new house, working two jobs, volunteering with Polar, and a baby on the way, I haven't had as much time as I'd like to go hiking and such. But I still try to take Polar out whenever I can. The rest of the photos are just some of the trips we've taken in the last few months.

















































































































Last edited by Polar on Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : minor correction)
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amymeme
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Female Join date : 2013-12-20

PostSubject: Re: Polar goes everywhere!   Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:14 pm

Gorgeous pictures and beautiful doggy! Baby on the way - a lovely time of life:) 

So what does it take to become a therapy dog? Ami just loves people and new experiences but we are just two old farts living in the boonies - he gets plenty of walking with me but people are sparse up here. I've wondered, if I can get him mellow enough, if therapy dog would be a good thing for him. Right now, whenever I see a person on our walks (not often), I ask if they mind saying "hello" to Mr Dog cause he loves people. Most don't mind, but occasionally some will look mildly annoyed Crying or Very sad 
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Polar
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Join date : 2012-02-25
Location : Castle Rock, CO

PostSubject: Re: Polar goes everywhere!   Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:24 am

@amymeme wrote:

So what does it take to become a therapy dog?

I'm no expert, but I think it is all in the dog's personality. He or she has to love people, that's the number one requirement. But they have to be gentle too. There are a lot of dogs that love people and jump up and down when they meet someone, that will not do for a therapy dog. High energy dogs tend not to make therapy dogs, so if Ami is still young, you need to wait for him to be older and mellower before you try it with him. The Children's Hospital Colorado requires a dog to be at least two years old before they even consider him/her for the program.

They also have to be pretty obedient and very well behaved. They don't have to be as well trained as guide dogs or service dogs, but they can't be pulling you everywhere on a leash either. A lot of therapy dog organizations recommend that you get the Good Canine Citizen from AKC first. You don't have to do it that way (I didn't), but it may be a good start.

They have to be pretty confident in new and strange environments, without any aggression toward people at all. They cannot be skittish, because if something surprises them while they are been petted (if someone drops a metal pan on the tile floor for example), it would be very bad if they snap or nip at people. Since I work with children, some are very very young and tend to grab or pull on things, it would be bad if Polar reacts to someone pulling hard on her tail, her ears, her fur, etc.

The dog also has to be healthy, the hospital requires a certain vaccinations, and Polar has to get a health screening every six months. It may be a little different depends on what organization you do the therapy dog program with, I would guess different organizations have different requirements.

It's very fulfilling work, I get to see how Polar brings a smile to all the little children she visits. But it can also be tough emotionally, at least for me, since some of the children we visit are very sick. Some of them are connected to many tubes and machines and such, some cannot even move any parts of their body without help. It could be very difficult to see kids in such conditions. As the handler you have to be mentally prepared for that as well.

It can also be hard for the dog emotionally, since I think they can feel the same emotions we do. It can be too much for some dogs to handle. One of the volunteers in our program had to quit because her dog doesn't want to visit the hospital anymore. Her dog went from stopping outside the hospital not wanting to go in, to not wanting to get in the car to go to the hospital. Even though she wants to continue on and help the children, she made the right decision to quit, because it wouldn't be right to force her dog do something she doesn't want to do.

So, a lot to think about!
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kylah2013
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Female Join date : 2014-02-18
Location : Grand Rapids, Michigan

PostSubject: Re: Polar goes everywhere!   Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:23 am

Beautiful dog! I love the thought of a therapy dog, sounds like a great experience.
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