Oct 12, 2018 7:00 AM
Karen Saunders & her special guests!
Therapy Dogs International

Since 2005 my husband and I have volunteered with our therapy dogs to visit hospitals, schools, nursing homes and even more places to help others have a better day, to give them a smile, or something else to think about when they are facing challenges.

I am a member of Therapy Dogs International (TDI), which started in 1976 as the first organized therapy dog group to test and register dogs to visit facilities.

I explain that therapy dogs are pets who pass tests to be able to be shared with others to make their day better.  (I also explain what they are not, which is service dogs which are not pets.)  I have photographs of a wide variety of therapy dogs working with adults and children, and examples of dogs working with children with Downs Syndrome, autism and a host of other challenges and seeing the children smile and laugh when the dogs visit.   I site examples of how a dog might walk with a child who has had surgery, been in a cast for months, and is learning to walk for the first time.  How that child never holds any thing in their hand, but this time they took the leash and held it for a walk of 150 feet.  And, how, when seeing the dog the next week she reached out to pet the dog....and how the staff reacted taking photos because she had NEVER reached out to touch anything else before in her life.

Some of the stories are cute, some are tear jerkers.  It is all part of the day in the life of a therapy dog volunteer.

I usually ask to have some other therapy dog handlers and their dogs go with me so the audience sees more than one breed of dog (therapy dogs do not have to be purebreds), and so everyone has a chance to pet a dog.

I am including some examples of the photos in my power point presentation. The talk is about 20 to 30 minutes long, depending on how many other therapy dog teams I bring and if I let them introduce themselves.

I do not charge for doing this, I want people to learn about a different type of volunteering and what it does to help others.