One of the benefits of living near a Pet Partner (formerly Delta Society) animal therapy program Community Partner Affiliate is that once you register for the Workshop, you can begin shadowing experienced therapy teams.
The Las Vegas affiliate program is Love Dog Adventures and it offers both mentoring with your own animal once the Evaluation Test has been passed and you are a Registered Pet Partner team, but even more importantly shadowing opportunities before you test. Workshop students are invited to accompany experienced handlers to a variety of facilities to observe both large and small animal handling. Students go without their own animals.
In the Workshop we learn about the broad range of animal assisted therapy assignments. We learn the difference between Animal Assisted Activities versus Animal Assisted Therapies. But often seeing different animals at work is the only way to truly understand what is required and help you determine where you and your animal would do best.
Sometimes people think it is obvious what is required of both the handler and animal in certain types of facilities but each visit or session or class is different and only by watching experienced teams in action can you determine if this is a suitable placement for both ends of the leash.
Learning how to handle a large dog with clients with low to no mobility is so different than handling a small or tiny dog. And as much as the human volunteer may want to work with a specific population, your animal may just not be appropriate to get the job done. .
When you see how animals interact with people with dementia or psychiatric issues versus physically challenged populations it registers so thoroughly what is required of the animal and handler. When you visit a school and see that for an hour your animal needs to perform in a certain way either being very still for a long period of time or performing certain actions, you can more readily decided if this is the assignment for you.
Does your animal need quiet and calmness and familiarity thus a Predictable environment? Or can your animal do well with a rapidly changing, noisy, unpredictable, more Complex environment?
During the Pet Partner Workshop, the students rank the Love Dog partner facilities and get to thoroughly understand each location and requirements.
Then the shadowing can begin. And never underestimate the importance of going to places you never thought you would want to work in! See it all. One recent graduate team never thought a hospital setting would be what they wanted but it has become their strength and they are loved by staff, clients and families where they work.
Another team never knew their dog was the most suitable for working with children on the autism spectrum.
And my own dogs are not interchangeable. Benny and Petey each have their strengths and talents and areas in which they excel. I have the joy of working across the spectrum, with one dog at a time, fulfilling unique assignments with each dog. Many of our Love Dog team members have more than one animal and find this broadens the assignments they can participate with. Especially if they have both a dog and a cat!
So take advantage of a Pert Partner Affiliate program when looking to begin your animal therapy career.
The next Las Vegas Pet Partner Workshop is full but the April 12, 2014 Workshop is still open. To schedule a Free Orientation contact firstname.lastname@example.org and learn more about this unique animal therapy program.