Monday, August 6, 2012

Oops. Chico’s in the dog house

No matter how sweet and gentle an animal has been thus far, TEST HIM before entering a therapy situation.   Yes, I’d attempted to get in touch with a therapy animal program before taking him visiting at a nursing home. I never got a response. Finally I decided to go ahead. The home I’d contacted was anxious to have pets visit, so I brazenly went anyway.

You may recall back when I first posted about the experience, that he had snapped at a couple of people trying to cuddle him. I should never have dismissed it as first day jitters. He did it again last Wednesday, and that even after Husband took him on a long, exhausting walk so he’d be in a cuddlier mood for his visit.
So I tried again to reach the therapy program, this time armed with email addresses and administrators’ names. And this time they responded – most graciously, in fact. 
There are a number of vital steps to entering an animal in the program. There are orientation workshops for interested pet owners, followed by individual evaluations of obedience and temperament. Tests include reactions to sudden noises, ear pulling, etc. They also need to sit, stay, fetch, and come when called. It’s a process that takes about a month to complete.

If said animal passes muster, they go on supervised visitations. If all goes well, they can be licensed and insured. But temperament tests are repeated every year to be sure no nasty habits or ouchy ailments have developed.
So no matter how wonderful Fido has been so far, it’s not proof he’ll be sweet and docile in every situation. If I’d done this properly, I would’ve discovered Chico didn’t take to the elderly.  

It would’ve saved the heartbreak of severing bonds with folks who were becoming dear to me.

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