|Finn Looks Deeply Into Each Heart He Encounters|
In our determination to lift the spirits of others, Finn and I are on a new year's mission. Though we have engaged in animal welfare and educational outreach work on a daily basis over the past year and a half (since Finn became a part of my forever family), we want to take this work to the next level by going through a rigorous screening process to become a registered therapy dog team. Anything worth doing, is worth doing to the highest level of professionalism and integrity. To that end, we have chosen to pursue approval through Pet Partners.
The Pet Partners Organization and WebsiteThere are a number of organizations through which volunteers can seek an official status for their therapy team service. We chose Pet Partners for several reasons:
- Theirs is a very reputable organization with a well-established history;
- They put animals first;
- Their process provides unlimited opportunities for demonstrating team growth;
- They provide quality resources that enhance both animal and handler skills;
- Their community is one that connects teams of beautiful individuals;
- They provide insurance coverage for registered teams; and
- Membership can bring a greater credibility to volunteer therapy teams.
|Quality of Life is the Soul of the Mission|
Finn and I must prove ourselves both in terms of aptitude and skills. Our evaluation process seeks first to confirm that both of us have the heart for this service. I know, without a doubt, that therapy team outreach is a calling for me. And, having watched Finn display his "people whispering" essence over the many months since his adoption, I feel sure that he is also well-suited for this mission. Finn leans into this work, rather than merely tolerating it. That is the key qualifier when it comes to passing our aptitude testing.
|Finn is a Willing Student, Teacher, and Therapist|
Finn came to me with no prior training. He knew no commands when we began our pursuit of this quest. We currently set aside time every single day to push the boundaries of our learning. Finn must show a mastery of a number of commands: come, sit, down, stay, and leave it, for starters. He will be tested in a number of role playing situations common to what he is likely to encounter during visits to hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. Right now, as a part of his preparation, I am focused on immersing Finn into the most common types of experiences he is likely to have when he officially starts his therapy dog work.
You may be wondering what Finn gets out of all of this. As a mix of two of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, I have found that Finn needs a great deal of stimulation. He is a combination of working dog breeds. In my rehabilitation work with rescue dogs, I have seen the importance of providing smart, energetic animals with a job and a purpose. As a Border collie mix, Finn would normally be involved in herding, or agility, or some form of highly evolved activity engaging both body and mind. He seems to really enjoy stretching his mental muscles during our training sessions. Finn's emotional tank also appears to be filled up by all of the attention and affection that comes his way as a result of our interactions with others.
Finn is a whole new dog compared to what he was on the day of his emancipation from the life of a shut-in. In many ways, I feel his people-whispering nature is what it is due to his having overcome such a barren existence during his early years. Finn has a way of cracking people's hearts wide open and making them feel things deeply—things that are healthy, and lovely, and healing. How do I know this? Well, Dr. Finn began by practicing on me. A dose of Finn every day has been the best prescription for living a life filled with what matters most. My desire is to give as many people as possible a taste of this good medicine.
Author's Note: If you enjoy reading about the healing power of animals, you may be interested in my book review about Bella and Jean. Joy Unleashed tells the story of how they have been transformed while touching lives in beautiful ways. Another book, Moose! The Reading Dog, will appeal to the children in your life.
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