Every Newfoundland owner is keenly aware of the calming influence Newfs have on people, young or old, at home, hospitalized or in an institutional setting. This incredible furry-coated dog presents a naturally unassuming, reassuring invitation to those in need. It is not hard to understand then why so many of our members have gotten into the world of therapy with their special companions.
A Group of nursing home residents visit ringside at the
2003 National Specialty (photo by Karen Steinrock)
New- July, 2011 - AKC Launches Therapy Dog Recognition Program -
The AKC Therapy Dog program awards an official AKC title awarded to dogs who have worked to improve the lives of the people they have visited.
The AKC Therapy Dog title (THD) can be earned by dogs who have been certified by AKC recognized therapy dog organizations and have performed 50 or more community visits.
AKC does not certify therapy dogs; the certification and training is done by qualified therapy dog organizations. The certification organizations are the experts in this area and their efforts should be acknowledged and appreciated. Read More from the AKC
Getting Started With Therapy Work by Jan Boggio
Pat Dowell suggests that before beginning any animal-assisted therapy work to first get you and your Newf certified. "Not only will you be covered under the organization's liability insurance policy (this is the case with most national organizations), it will provide you with the training you need, the temperment/situation testing for your Newfie, and provide you with access to other involved in therapy work.
Helpful hints from Pat: "When arranging for a place for you and your Newf to visit, it is important that you go to the facility beforehand to see if it is too hot or too crowded for your partner. On your visits, make sure you bring fresh water and a bowl (and extra towels!). Ice cubes make for less of a mess. And keep your eye on your partner. He or she will let you know when they have visited long enough."
Laurie Shapiro suggests you expose your dog to as many environments as possible. "Be sure to have your friend well acquainted with linoleum floors," she said, "I've heard of dogs that slipped once and refused to set paw in that facility ever again! An elevator is another unusual device that is frequently found in the places you'll want to visit. Make sure your dog sees and gets to sniff wheelchairs, crutches, canes, carts, scooters, etc. If your dog is still a puppy, expose him to everything you can think of!"
Most groups require that a dog be at least one year old. They may require health certification.They will want vaccination records, although some organizations do accept titer results in their place. This difference may help you decide which group you want to belong to. The dog will need to be bathed and dried the day before your visits- a large commitment with our breed.
Karen Steinrock agrees. "Good grooming is, of course, a big part of the job. And a drool towel is standard therapy Newf equipment." She encourages anyone interested in therapy work to give it a try.
"If you're thinking, 'My Newf never earned any titles or anything. He'll never make it as a therapy dog,' think again. Rufus made it painfully clear he had no interest in the breed ring or organized Newf activities at a young age. I believe Rufus- and probably many other Newfs- have a calling to serve mankind in this meaningful and rewarding way. The only credentials required for the job? A sweet disposition and good manners."
(photos by Sharon Bauman, Pat Dowell & Suzi Bidwell)
NEWFS REACH OUT TO CANCER SURVIVORS A friend asked me if my Newfs and I would like to participate in a weekend retreat geared towards helping cancer survivors and their families deal with living with cancer. The dogs and I had done some nursing home visits, but somehow I knew this was going to be totally different.READ MORE
MADISON JOINS THE COUNSELING STAFF Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my best counseling partner would have four legs, a mass of black hair, drool like a fountain, and have a heart that held a special place for every individual in the elementary school where we both workedREAD MORE
RUFUS FINDS HIS IDEAL JOB If you've ever felt the exhilaration of winning in the breed ring or earning a working title, multiply that by ten when you see your Newfoundland "connect" with an otherwise uncommunicative patient.READ MORE
Adam, The Resident DogIf you were a Newfoundland dog and you could choose your career, what would you choose? If you ask Adam, (Proud Magi Adam at Adrian, OFA) he would say that his job is one of the best jobs a Newfoundland could wish for. He is the resident dog at Portage Manor, a county residential care center in South Bend, Indiana. READ MORE
A Lesson Well LearnedThe best part of this story is the fact that the principal players are absolutely dedicated to their breed. They have gone out of their way to educate and promote the Newfoundland, and have even contributed to the restoration of the Landseer painting through their services.READ MORE
Reading Education Assistance Dogs by Suzanne Bidwell All breeds are eligible to work with children in the R.E.AD (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) program, but I'm sure you'll agree that Newfs are perfect for this work. They seem intuitively to sense they are doing something important; subsequently, they relax in the environment. They also make good pillows. READ MORE
Sunshine Friends - Kids Reading to Dogs by Beth SellOur Newfoundlands, Tickle and Zena, are volunteers in the Kids Reading to Dogs program of Sunshine Friends, Inc., (SFI) of Syracuse, New York. When Ron and I put on their "uniforms" (bright yellow vests), they get excited, and they usually whine in anticipation as we drive into the parking lot of the library or school where we will be working. This year we participated weekly at a public school and they wiggled with delight when the kids ex- claimed, "The Newfs are here."READ MORE