I have decided start directing Nibbler's training towards the requirements for therapy dogs. This was something that crossed my mind even before we brought her home. When I saw her picture, I knew she was the one for us, and the breeder told us a few weeks before we picked her up that she had a very laid back personality. And the thought crossed my mind, maybe she could do therapy? It has been something that I talked about with my boyfriend, and something I have considered doing. But it wasn't until recently that I realized that she could be great at it. I brought her with me to AJ's for a sandwich on the patio. A couple with two boys were sitting outside and they told me that they used to have a corgi, but he had recently passed away at 13 years old. They told me about how awesome of a dog it was and how much they missed it. One of the little boys asked to pet Nibbler and I said yes. Without me doing or saying anything, Nibbler immediately sat down as the boy crouched and she waited patiently. As he stroked her fur, she tilted her face up and kissed his cheek. Smiles broke out over the faces of the little boy and his parents.

It is with tears that I write this. I had been getting frustrated with training and wondering if therapy was something she could actually do. Yet when we go out she has the uncanny ability to make people smile and open up. She has a long way to go, definitely. She is only 7 months old and I know we still have a lot of training ahead of us. But there seem to be these moments with other people in which she becomes something more than just a dog. It's remarkable and can't quite be explained. She has a way of making people happy. So I am going to keep on training, and look for some training classes specific to therapy, and cross my fingers in hopes that she has what it takes.

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Comment by Beth on November 26, 2009 at 8:28am
We went through TDI and we don't have the supervised visits like Geri and Sidney did. We did take a 6-week TDI class and that is where we were introduced to wheel chairs and walkers. The test isn't like when you do obedience. For certain things some testers will give you a second chance if you miss it. Generally speaking, you will immediately fail if the dog snarls or growls. The utmost thing they are looking for is a stable temperament, so if for instance your dog gets up on "stay" but you still have control, and you can put your dog back on stay and get the desired result, you may very well pass. But if your dog wigs out a bit at having his paws handled, then you would likely fail as they see that as a temperament issue.

I was happy that our tester was somewhat familiar with Corgis, because Jack grumbled at me a few times (he was NOT happy because the testing site was the same as the room we'd trained in but had been totally rearranged and he wanted to check everything out but was not allowed to). I quickly interjected "That was a grumble, not a growl!" and was afraid she'd mark him down, but she just laughed and all was fine. My boy is very talkative!
Comment by Kristin, Honey, and Hooch on November 26, 2009 at 3:23am
I've been thinking about doing this with my girl Honey, too! She really adores people and being around people, and is so affectionate and sweet. She has a few small quirks that I'll need to train out of her first (she's a rescue, and seems to not have been well-socialized around larger dogs because she's a bit afraid of them), but I think it'll be worthwhile and fun for her.

I wish you and Nibbler the best of luck in your journey to become a therapy dog! She's young, and training young dogs can be frustrating at times, but don't give up and you two will reach your goals. Take your time, too, and try not to feel like it's a rush. I'm sure she'll make a wonderful therapy dog! Good luck!
Comment by Geri & Sidney on November 25, 2009 at 11:18pm
Awesome! Sidney is also a therapy dog, and he's good at it too. After passing CGC, he took a 6-week therapy training class, where they conditioned them to not be afraid of things like wheelchairs and walkers, and taught us handlers what we'd be expected to encounter, and how to handle things. He then completed his 10-week supervised visits with my daughter, and is now working on the same 10 weeks with me as co-handler (the first 10 weeks need to be in assisted care facilities). After the 10 weeks are up and we turn in all our paperwork, he'll be cleared to work in other areas, like at schools and libraries. I know he'll really shine when it comes to kids! Like Beth said about Jack, Sid is so short that many of the seniors have a hard time reaching him. He knows "paws up" but does not like to hold that position long; I think it is hard on his back.

Congratulations on your decision, good luck with training, and please let us know how things unfold. I love to hear happy stories like yours. You'd be amazed how grateful folks are for even a few minutes with a therapy dog. It brings tears to your eyes :')
Comment by Beth on November 25, 2009 at 10:23pm
I think that's wonderful. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me as we did the therapy dog testing last March. I don't know how much you've looked into the specifics, but basically it's the CGC test with a few things added in.

Don't worry about having a long way to go. I did not feel Jack was ready til he was about 20 months old; he was just too busy before that.

The single most important tip I can give is to socialize, socialize, socialize. We are lucky to live near a busy park and Jack has seen the military practicing in fatigues, track meets, marathons, dogs, kids in strollers, people in wheel chairs--- you name it! Like your Nibbler, Jack always draws people out and he has so many friends wherever we go. Everyone loves Jack and I feel blessed because he is exactly the dog we asked for when we went to find a puppy. The breeder did a fantastic job matching us up.

Our visits are to nursing homes because of my work schedule, and I think Jack would rather meet with children because they squeal and get down at his level and he enjoys that. But it's very rewarding to see all the eyes light up when we walk in. The dayroom environment is a bit crazy because there are so many people and dogs and handlers, but he's good. The biggest issue I have is that he keeps trying to lie down and then no one can reach him!

The training will come with time, but the basic personality needs to be there and it sounds like Nibbler has it.
Comment by Jane Christensen on November 25, 2009 at 10:10pm
Good Luck...she reminds me of my Wynn...he just know things about people that I can't even explain!

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