By Claire W.

Engaging with a warm, loving pet is known to reduce stress, anxiety, trauma, and loneliness. EVPL McCollough is thrilled to begin offering the opportunity for people of all ages to spend time with a registered therapy dog in a new program, Paws for Comfort.

Paws for Comfort will take place twice a month (once in the month of September), on a Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon. People of all ages are welcome to come for the hour session and take turns spending time with Jack the therapy dog and his handler, Pat. At this point in time, registration is not required.

Meet Jack

Jack is half-Siberian Husky and half-German Shepard and will be two years old on October 27. His favorite special treats are Doggy Donut Balls and Pup Cups, but he mostly gets Milkbone dog bones for treats. Jack has two doggy brothers that he loves to wrestle and play with. He likes to go to the dog park and play with all the other dogs and just run in the backyard. He loves to have his belly scratched and his ears rubbed.

To learn more about Jack and Pat and how Jack became a registered therapy dog, please check out the interview below:

What made you (Pat) decide to take Jack through the therapy dog program?

I had a friend that had her dog go through the training and Jack had already started the basics. I was also hopeful and still am that he may be able to come to school with me. I am a school social worker and I understand the value of having therapy dogs to help calm and regulate the emotions of kids. Once I started we both loved it!

Can you tell us the basics of what the therapy dog certification process involved? How long did it take, what was Jack required to learn, etc.?

It really starts with beginner classes and the basics of obedience. I started Jack at 10 weeks old, but some people start their dogs later. There are at least 3 classes at the end of which they receive the Advanced Canine Good Citizen Certificate.  Beyond the obedience basics, they complete tasks that test their temperament, if they startle easily, how well they bond and respond to their handler etc. Once that is complete they have to take a test with a person certified to test therapy dogs through an agency called Therapy Dogs International. Once they pass that test there is some paperwork including a vet exam that is completed and sent to the TDI. They have to complete so many hours of therapy dog work each year and have a current shot record and vet exam on file to keep the certification.

What sort of places/people has Jack visited in his job as a therapy dog?

Jack visits several nursing homes as a group and we go to the individual rooms of people that cannot get out.  Jack is also a Heart to Heart Hospice Volunteer. Some of the other dogs go to hospitals, schools, disasters, etc. I also take Jack to different events for him to walk around and interact with people and other animals. We are hoping to expand the places Jack goes, starting with McCollough Library!

Is there anything else you think people might be interested to know or learn about therapy dogs, Jack specifically, or your experience?

Jack loves to “work”. He acts very differently when he is working than when he is home playing and wrestling.  He does get excited sometimes to see his therapy dog friends and other animals but is easily reminded of his difficult job of being petted and loved on by people. He knows he is working when he has his harness on. The only time he wears it is when he is working as a therapy dog or out in public. Therapy dogs do not have to be any certain breed or size, there are some in our group as small as a Miniature Australian Shepherd and as big as a Great Dane. They do have to have a great temperament and love to be around people and of course to be petted and loved on. Being a therapy dog and handler team takes a lot of work and practice but is worth it when we are able to bring so much joy and comfort to others!

Claire W.
Experience Manager

Claire W.

Claire is a lover of stories and creative, artistic expression who believes that the public library is an ever-evolving and adaptable community touchstone. She frequently contemplates the existence of unicorns and other magical creatures and spends much of her time with her three very real dogs and husband.

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