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April 11, 2010

Claire's Therapy Dog Test: Delta Society

I had Claire certified as a therapy dog through Delta Society in the spring of 2008. It's already been two years, and her certification is coming up for renewal. So we'll be retested on May 15th. In order to knock our training up to the necessary level, I'm walking Chance & Claire separately for the next six weeks, so I have an opportunity to work with Claire individually. That's two hours of walking daily for me, and it's eating up a lot of blogging, gardening, and crafting time! But it will pay off in the end with a well trained and obedient pup who knows I'm in charge and is able to meet and greet lots of strangers, offering comfort and love to old or sick people.

(Claire on her first test day)

When we were first certified, I registered as a volunteer at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills and took Claire there to visit the residents. We discontinued our visits when the price of gas skyrocketed. Since then they've decided to close the long-term care unit at the Country Home, and the morale there has understandably hit rock bottom, so I haven't wanted to go back, as much as I know we're needed. Claire's re-certification has renewed my interest in being a therapy team, so we may go back sometime this summer, probably after 4-H camp in July (I'll be a counselor & running the art barn).

Lots of people ask me what's involved with the test, so I thought I'd post the test requirements here. It's a pretty involved evaluation much like the Canine Good Citizen test. You'll have to click on the images to enlarge to a readable size for a step-by-step breakdown of the process. The test consists of two parts: the Pet Partners Skills Test (PPST), which evaluates whether the animal can be controlled by the handler and follow basic commands, and the Pet Partners Aptitude Test (PPAT), which is designed to simulate conditions that may be encountered on a visit and helps determine the most appropriate environment for the team to visit.

There's a financial component to certification as well, as a vet visit is required, along with a fecal test and full immunizations. Then there's the testing & membership fees of Delta Society themselves.

Have you ever gone through certification with a pet? Have you had an animal visit you or a loved one when you were sick or staying in a care facility? Please leave your comments on the blog--I'd love to hear them!

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