Guest Post Friday SF SPCA Senior Scholars Class
Rosalynn Lily's Therapy Dog Photos

How a rambunctious Border Collie becomes a Therapy Dog!

Allow me to introduce name is Rosalynn Lily, I'm a five year old wild and crazy Border Collie.

When I was adopted by my fur-mom at 7 weeks old from a local Livermore rancher, she kept saying that she needed to find a job for me as she hadn't been able to do that with her previous border collie.

We tried agility when I was old enough but unfortunately, due to an injury I sustained during my training, I never had the opportunity to compete in a single agility competition. That injury also kept me out of other high intensity activities such as flyball or what I was bred for, competive sheep-herding.

So what was left for me to do as a job?  Mom decided that she would try to get me certified as a therapy dog. She contacted the local animal shelters for any therapy dog training programs they might have in place. We ended up training and getting our certification via the East Bay SPCA in Dublin.[...]

To become a therapy dog, I first had to go thru the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizenship training. After a few Saturdays of training for that training, I passed my test on the first try. My fur-mom was so proud of me and she even bought me a K9 Good Citizen patch that I could wear on my vest (should I complete my therapy dog training).

Once that requirement was met, we had a pre-training meeting at the Dublin SPCA to see if I would be a good candidate for their therapy dog program.  I had to meet a strange dog, a stranger, and even a guinea pig (all I did was sniff at it's cage even though I had never seen a guinea pig before). Luckily, they thought I would be a good candidate so I was able to enroll in the training workshop.

At the workshop, we were exposed to walkers, stuff on the floor (that folks may drop during our visits) and being pet by lots of hands as part of our training.  Our handlers (aka our fur-parents) learned to watch us carefully for any signs of doggy distress as these visits would be new experiences for us and the SPCA wanted to make sure that our stress levels didn't get out of hand. We passed that training and we, me as the therapy dog, my fur-mom as my handler, were awarded our certificate...but we weren't done yet.

We received the current list of places that the SPCA had available for therapy dog visits. Mom chose a senior citizen assisted care home in Castro Valley for me to visit. Before we could do our regular visits, we had to do a mock visit with the evaluators at the SPCA to make sure that I'd do well and I did, yay! I finally earned my Therapy Dog vest for my regular visits.  My fur-mom sewed on my K9 Good Citizen patch and also my name patch on my vest, I'm stylin' now!

The Castro Valley facility isn't that large and we only visit the folks who want to visit with me, Mom takes great care to not wake up residents from their rest and to not scare folks who may be afraid of dogs. We've met with one woman who used to be a ballerina and a doctor when she lived back in Russia way back when. She sang me a wonderful lullaby in Russian the first time I visited her. We've met with another woman who worked with Caesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and the United Farmworkers for 17 years. Another of my regulars loves to see me and always asks me for "doggy kisses", sometimes I'm in the mood, sometimes not like last weekend when I didn't give her a kiss as she wanted but I gave them out freely to two other residents. My handler told the other residents not to tell that they got doggy kisses :-)

I love being a therapy dog....Mom was somewhat worried that I'd be my usual crazy self (like I am when I'm at home) but I pleasantly surprised her, when I get to our facility and Mom puts on my vest, it's time for me to work and to bring a ray of doggy sunshine to the folks I am visiting....

PS.  My fur-mom is new to the Grouchy Puppy blog so pictures will come later....

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