Bright Spot just finished up its September Therapy Dog Training Course with nine teams completing the required classes.
These teams now qualify to move on to step two in the Bright Spot Therapy Dog certification process. This step involves a one-on-one evaluation of the team conducted by a Bright Spot evaluator that takes place in an actual nursing home setting. Class participants have been prepared with the skills and techniques they need to know to pass the evaluation and make meaningful visits to people in need as a certified Bright Spot Therapy Dog Team.
During the evaluation, the evaluator will watch both ends of the leash. The handler and the dog must work as a team, the handler always communicating to the dog how best to interact with the individual they are visiting.
For example, the handler with a large dog who is visiting a patient in bed must direct the dog to move alongside the bed and rest his head on the bed so the patient can pet his head. In time, the dog will learn to execute this maneuver instinctively. The handler of a small dog visiting the same patient in bed must pick the dog up off the floor – and with the patient’s permission – place the small dog gently on the bed within easy reach of the patient. This and a variety other techniques were played out in class, with each team getting its turn to practice.
A team that passes its evaluation is given the veterinary health form to be completed by the dog’s veterinarian and sent in to Bright Spot, along with the membership fee for registration.
Once these documents are received the new Bright Spot Therapy Dog Team is issued a Welcome Packet including certificate of certification, insurance coverage, Bright Spot Therapy Dog vest, t-shirt, identifcation badges for both dog and handler, along with online access to the members only portion of the website containing the Bright Spot Therapy Dogs Handbook and Official List of Volunteer Visiting Opportunities.
The next Therapy Dog Training Class will be held in October. All classes are held at Animal Alliances in Northampton, MA, conveniently located off I-91.
Check our website for exact dates and time. The October class is filling fast and space is limited. Sign up today to reserve your place in class. The final course of the year will be held in November, with classes resuming in January 2017.