Ask a Terrier: Budleigh Analyzes Therapy
I think that I’d make a good therapy dog. Is it hard to become one? I have my own harness. It has a pocket. Are there any further requirements? FYI, my fur is soft.
Respectfully yours, Baldur (as dictated to my Giant Mitch)
My Yelly Giant often remarks that, “The best therapy dog comes in little, blue pills!” Then, he laughs. A lot! Sometimes cries.
He means, I assume, that to pursue this higher calling, canines must understand the difference between being a therapy dog, trained to provide comfort and affection, and a service dog, permitted to carry a concealed firearm.
According to the American Kennel Club (Motto: “Stay!”), therapy dog candidates should be naturally calm, friendly and affectionate. However, professional training is needed to mold a dog into a patient, adaptable companion or, in certain cases, a merciless killing machine. (See The Manchurian Candidate.)
Decades-long scientific research reduced to a 20-second news clip proves the benefits to Giants of a therapy dog – lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced anxiety, and increased levels of endorphins and oxytins– two ingredients normally found in shoes.
Therapy dogs are comfortable in different facility settings, like hospital wards and nursing homes. There, Giants depend on them to share their serene character. That’s an awesome responsibility. So, before deciding to train, Baldur, ask yourself, “Am I truly tranquil, or do I just sleep a lot?”
Frankly, I’d have made a fine therapy dog but for, you’ll pardon the expression, “obedience class.” What a scam! Nothing but cliques made up of Hipsters and Mean Girls and Golden Retrievers. And if you don’t fit in, if you’re a free spirit, if you bite just one little instructor – and not even that deep – they label you “terrier.”
That’s a brand that stays with you; probably embossed on one of those jingley things on your collar. And because of it, you’ll never be a therapy dog. Or hold public office. Or work with explosives.
So think long and hard, Baldur. You face a tough road ahead with no promise of a better harness – or even a pocket.