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A volunteers’ perspective at the human end of the leash

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This week the Love Dog (www.lovedogadventures.com) therapy team spent two days at UNLV de-stressing the students. We always talk about the importance of "both ends of the leash" when discussing Pet Partner animal therapy teams and this is what sets us apart from other therapy programs.

Not only did over 800 students stop by the Lied Library to meet our dogs, they had a chance to speak with their handlers, about all sorts of things. I was busy giving dog training tips and explaining how the Pet Partner / Love Dog (www.petpartners.org) process works.

Some volunteers shared their career paths and reminded everyone this is a volunteer activity and we all have "real lives and real jobs."

Most importantly while the students were petting and cuddling our dogs, we as the human end of the leash "listened."

Perhaps the biggest benefit of our visits with students is that we are someone neutral to chat with and we "listen."

Here is one volunteer's perspective on the event:

"Well, I would have to agree that the last couple of days have been truly wonderful and beyond my expectations as far as how many students and faculty would take the time to stop to see all of us! There were all very happy that we were there and expressed how much they wanted us to me back.

There was even one young woman who openly admitted that she was writing a paper and had unfortunately received a D on her first draft. But as she sat there and stroked Boise she stated that her mind was clearing, wasn't as stressed, and was even coming up with some new ideas of how to improve her research in order to receive a higher grade on her final paper. She left extremely relieved.

Along with just enjoying stress-free moments, there were so many questions about our group.

  • How to get involved as a therapy team
  • What type of training and testing do we go through
  • Why is Pet Partners different and why do we have a high standard for excellence
  • Are certain breeds more suitable for therapy work

The entire population of visitors could not believe how calm our therapy animals were, especially due to the time we were in an enclosed space together, with all of the noises, smells, and the hands on interaction with new people.

They were impressed with the relationship each handler had with their dog and how the dogs never barked, growled, lunged, jumped, whimpered or left anyone out that needed a hug or some type of interaction to make them feel special and the only one that mattered at that moment in time."

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