Two Bears Dog Training

Yellow Scene Magazine
September 2010 (Pet Issue)

The Making of a Therapy Dog
A local trainer tells how one pup went from troublemaker to peacemaker

Devon, a 5-year-old black Labrador, is a rescue from the Longmont Humane Society. Originally a stray, he was adopted and returned to LHS twice. Extreme anxiety and separation issues, tearing through doors, eating his way out of privacy fences and killing a house rabbit all meant he would not be eligible for adoption again without serious behavior modification.

That’s when Aimee Sadler, LHS’s behavior coordinator, asked me to foster him. I soon realized he’s a special dog Devon. His attraction to people and his gentle nature make him a born therapy dog.

Four months later, I adopted him. A year after, we passed the Delta Society testing procedures and Devon became a registered therapy dog.

Devon works his magic in a variety of settings. As part of the reading dog program at the Erie Library, he helps children increase their reading level by quietly listening to them read aloud. Often he puts his head in their lap and they gently stroke him while reading a favorite book, knowing he will not judge them if they trip over some words. At a local hospital, Devon visits patients, visitors and staff. His always happy expression and willingness to be petted made the stress of a hospital stay evaporate, if only for a short time.

Devon also works at Skyline Vista Elementary School in Denver with Dogs Assisting with Wellness and Growth. The DAWG Project was created as a unique opportunity for students to work with a therapy dog on specific social and behavioral goals such as self-esteem, self-confidence, following directions and problem solving. Participating students have goals they work on through their time with the therapy dogs. They work on these goals by learning to teach the dogs to maneuver through an agility and rally course.

Wherever Devon goes he brings joy to everyone he meets. He is always willing to give someone a smile or a kiss, lie down for a belly rub or just sit quietly for petting.

Contributed by Diann Yandrich of Two Bears Pet Services.

 

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