All of us here at Bridgvale Farm wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Safe Thanksgiving Day!
It’s sunny and crisp here in western Massachusetts. A New England-perfect day for Thanksgiving!
It’s sunny and crisp here in western Massachusetts. A New England-perfect day for Thanksgiving!
I start several weeks ahead by creating a master list of food to be bought, things to be done around the house – inside and out. And, setting aside the Spa Weekend for grooming the dogs. As much food as possible is bought ahead and checked off the list. Outside chores of putting the perennial garden to bed for the winter, bringing in the outside furniture, and cleaning the gutters are done before it’s too cold outside to do them – or, worse, the snow and ice hit us hard, making it impossible to do \ until the following spring (never good!). Once the outside is done, the inside things like storm windows and extra bedding and woolen clothes are brought out from storage. I love checking things off on my master list.
They love looking good and they love the individual attention they get while being brushed – even getting their toenails trimmed! They hop right in the tub to get nice and clean, then back to the grooming table to be blown dry and trimmed. I love doing this as much as they enjoy it. This year, Annie was particularly in need of a major trim. She was starting to look like those wooly caterpillars that come out in the fall. So much fur came off of her, I had to put a new bag on the Shop Vac.
With 25 dogs and handlers participating in the event, there were dogs to be petted and dog-related activities taking place throughout the store.
Here, shoppers could obtain information on getting their own dog certified as a therapy dog, as well as pick up a schedule of events taking place throughout the store.
This translates into a higher than last year or the year before donation to Bright Spot Therapy Dogs supporting the meaningful work our therapy dog teams do bringing comfort and caring to those who need it most.
The dogs and their handlers finish our therapy dog training course armed with the necessary skills and techniques to make meaningful visits in a wide variety of environments-healthcare, education, and business. All participants will be scheduled for a one-on-one therapy dog team evaluation held on-site at an area assisted living facility. Our Bright Spot evaluators have the perspective team conduct visits with residents in the facility and observe whether or not the dog and handler properly perform the techniques taught in class. Our trainer and our evaluators are Bright Spot volunteers themselves and have years of experience visiting with their own dogs.
The pack contains certificate of certification, volunteer insurance coverage, identification badges for both handler and dog, a Bright Spot blue vest for the dog and a Bright Spot blue t-shirt for the handler to wear while visiting. In addition, teams certified with Bright Spot have exclusive access to our members’ portion of our website where they will find our official List of Visiting Opportunities containing a variety of facilities working with people of all ages.
With over 200 facilities on our List of Visiting Opportunities, there’s the perfect visiting location available for every Bright Spot Therapy Dog team.
Plan to join us for our final class of 2017 running December 3 and 10. For details and the steps involved to receive Bright Spot Certification, please visit our website and sign-up today.
Scientific research has proven that the simple act of petting a dog lowers blood pressure and makes a person feel happy and relaxed. These scientific findings were clearly evident today as I looked around the room and saw happy faces everywhere – students, staff, volunteers, and the dogs…. I felt surrounded by happiness – with laughter filling the air.
The steady flow of students never tapered off throughout the 2 1/2 hour event, running from 11:00-1:30. Many stayed for a while, went off to class, then returned for more therapy dog love.
Included in the event were two Golden Retrievers and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel stationed in the library for students there studying for mid-terms.
We need this… This is the best… My favorite event of the year… I love that you come four times a year, both semesters during mid-terms and finals… I miss my own dog so much. Spending time with these dogs really helps…
Today was his Spa Day… meaning a bath, blow-dry, trim, and pedicure. Now, a lot of dogs I know would run in the other direction with this on the day’s agenda. But, not my boy King. He knows the cues. Out comes the job vac. With this he lifts his head from the sofa and starts to take note. He hears me adjusting the grooming table to the center of the floor in the dogs’ grooming room and comes running. And I put on my purple smock. Once the smock is on, King’s excitement is at a high. He literally runs ahead of me to the grooming room – and there he is, excitedly waiting for me, atop the table.
Gosh-he even takes a pedicure in his stride. As long as he’s doing things with me, this special boy is a happy dog. While on the table, every 15 minutes or so, he leans in toward me, placing his head on my shoulder. Of course, I stop and give him a hug and kiss. Such a sweetheart!
I have to say, I enjoy spending all the time I can with this guy, no matter what we’re doing. Love grooming this dog. He loves looking good! As I write this quick post, he’s lying on the floor right up against my feet. He’s never far away!
Training with your dog to become a Bright Spot certified therapy dog team is lots of fun and extremely rewarding. If your dog is well-trained, friendly and outgoing and you enjoy helping people in need, volunteering as a certified therapy dog team is just the thing for you!
Our classes are kept small to allow plenty of time for practice, individual help, and questions. Participants are given a complete course packet to take home with them containing information about all the skills and techniques covered in class. Graduates of the class will come away prepared, not only to take the one-on-one evaluation held at a local nursing home, but to make meaningful visits with their dogs once certified.
The TD class was great. Jordan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Michelle does such a good job in all the aspects of the class- presenting the information, having participants practice the obedience and visiting skills and making the class friendly and fun for the participants. Annabelle does a very good job as assistant.
Our website is where you’ll find the answers to most of the questions you have about therapy dog work, where we visit, and how to go about getting your dog certified through Bright Spot Therapy Dogs. We hope to see you and your dog at our next class!
This event is very special, not only do people get to learn about therapy dogs and the meaningful work they do for people of all ages in healthcare, education, and business environments, they also get to see a variety of fun and interesting things they can do with their own dogs at home. In addition, Barnes and Noble will donate a portion of all sales that day to Bright Spot Therapy Dogs. So, if you buy books and other items while you’re visiting with our wonderful dogs throughout the store, you will be helping to raise the amount Barnes and Noble will be donating to our meaningful work.
Learn about Therapy Dogs: Our Bright Spot information booth will be set up with photos of our Therapy Dog Teams visiting in healthcare and educational settings. Copies of our print publications will be available as handouts, and our knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand to describe the meaningful work our therapy dogs do and explain how dogs get trained and certified as therapy dogs through Bright Spot.
Read to a Bright Spot Reading Buddy Dog: Dogs are wonderful listeners and enjoy all kinds of books! Young children will have the opportunity to read to one of the Reading Buddy dogs for a 15-minute time slot. Different Reading Buddy dogs will be scheduled throughout the day. Bring a favorite book from home or choose one from the store to read to the dog.
Agility, Obedience, and Tricks: Trainers from Animal Alliances will be demonstrating obedience work, agility, tricks, and lots more training skills people can do with their dogs. Demonstrations will be on going throughout the day. Shoppers will have the chance to talk with the trainers about the schedule of classes offered at Animal Alliances, which is located on Damon Road in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Airport Therapy Dogs: Meet Bright Spots James and Raven and their teammates Sally King and Karyn Cordner who are official airport therapy dogs at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT. Learn from Sally and Karyn what the dogs do at the airport and what it takes to become certified and trained through Bright Spot Therapy Dogs as one of these special airport dogs.
The Fun Sport of Geocaching with Your Dog: Meet Comet, geocaching companion extraordinaire, and learn from his teammate Nancy Ronan what geocaching is all about. The pair has trekked all over western Massachusetts in search of geocaches. Stop by the demo area and learn all about their adventures.
Meet Brinkley, a certified Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response Dog: Brinkley and his teammate Ned Polan would love to talk to you about the meaningful work they do helping on the national level in times of crisis, along with the training and certification involved. Brinkley has served at a military kids’ grief camp, the Revere tornado, a weekend encampment for homeless and at-risk veterans, and four weeks with survivors and the families of victims at the Washington Navy Yard shooting. For his work, Brinkley received an Award of Merit from the Secretary of the Navy.
Meet the Breeds: Find out what it’s like to live with a Bernese Mountain Dog, an English Setter, a Standard Poodle, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a Golden Retriever, an All-American-Mix, and lots more. A variety of Bright Spot therapy dogs will be scheduled throughout the day. Event attendees will have the chance to meet the breeds in person and talk to the dogs’ owners.
We’ve had a great turn-out the past two years and try to make each year’s event better than the last. We hope to see you there on November 4th.
It was this special dog who started it all back in 1992 when very little visiting with a therapy dog was seen anywhere. Every Friday afternoon for nine years, Beatrice brought comfort and companionship to the residents at our local nursing home. Her magical connection with people inspired me to found Bright Spot Therapy Dogs to encourage more people to become involved in therapy dog work and open more doors to visiting therapy dogs.
Since the founding of Bright Spot Therapy Dogs back in 2004, over four hundred handlers and dogs have become certified therapy dog teams, and more than 185 healthcare, educational, and business facilities have requested the services of our well-trained Bright Spot teams. Bright Spot started as a local western Massachusetts organization. Today it covers all of New England.
Today, therapy dogs are recognized as being highly therapeutic, having scientific research to back up this claim. With this recognition has come a demand that is hard to meet. Bright Spot Therapy Dogs conducts Therapy Dog Team Training Classes seven times a year at Animal Alliances in Northampton, Massachusetts. Please consider sharing your beloved dog with others as a certified therapy dog team. I can guarantee that you and your dog will love it, as I have these past twenty-five years as eight of my dogs, seven more after Beatrice, have carried on the magical work she started back in 1992.
Our next Therapy Dog Team Training Class will run October 15 and 22 from 9:30-11:30.
She and my mom became a therapy dog team through Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. Coco worked over 2000 hours at Mom’s middle school (where my mom is the principal), providing comfort and support to the students and staff there. When Mom and Dad brought me home from the breeder (actually, even when they visited me when I was a week old, three weeks old, and six weeks old), they made it very clear that I was expected to follow in Coco’s paw prints and become a therapy dog. I embraced the challenge and continue to work toward one day being as effective as my big sister, Coco, was.
Jackson and I are so happy to be back working at Mom’s school! Students returned Wednesday, August 30th. Mom reported that several students were asking her when she would be bringing us to school. One student said she felt anxious about being back and was hoping Mom would have a dog at school the first day. Mom decided that we needed to get back to work immediately.
I also went to school Wednesday and Friday this week, and Jackson went Tuesday. Maggie, the behavior specialist’s golden retriever and another therapy dog in training, also went to school Friday. Mom says we are such integral pieces of students’ school experience that they come to depend on us.
I was jumpy because I was so excited to be back. Mom apologized, and the student said, I understand, Betty! I am very excited to see you, too! We met up with another seventh grader who was heading to the behavior specialist’s room. I jumped on him and again, Mom apologized. He replied, Oh my gosh!! I am SO happy to see you, Betty!! I understand you are just as excited as I am. When I jumped up, he hugged me tight, and I knew I was right where I was supposed to be, back with my friends.
My old seventh and eighth grade friends in both the behavior specialist’s room and the therapeutic classroom were so happy to reconnect with me. I met many new sixth graders, as well. My first day back, one sixth grader exclaimed, I get to be in this room AND there are dogs here??? I LOVE this place!! Mom says this student is anxious and was struggling with the transition from elementary school to middle school. I have helped ease that transition for him. He and I are quickly becoming very close. A seventh grader was struggling getting into school the first days back. Seeing me, and knowing he would be able to spend time with me, got him excited about being back. After connecting with me, he was able to get back into the routine of school and to reconnect with his friends.
Students who spend time in these spaces are with their peers for most of the school day, but spend some time in small groups or in one-on-one settings throughout the week. Students who spend time in the behavior specialist’s room, for example, may have anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. but they are able to attend most classes with their grade level peers. Some need homeroom with the behavior specialist, a break in that room here and there, or a place to take tests. Others need more direct support. Students in the therapeutic program also attend many classes with their peers, but some need more intensive interventions (small group math instruction, for example, or more frequent therapeutic breaks and structured check-ins). Students in the Language Based Program need their English and/or reading instruction delivered in a small group setting by a Language Based teacher. These three programs serve students with different needs, and we have become necessary additions. The adults who work in these programs love dogs and understand the benefits to having us with their students.
His first day back, he was also met by a seventh grader who walked him down to the behavior specialist’s room. He reconnected with his seventh and eighth grade friends, and met many new sixth graders. The sixth graders were impressed that we have more than one dog that comes to school.
Today, she met a sixth grader who moved to Northborough over the summer. He has had a difficult life so far, and he finds himself living with a relative far away from other family members. The adjustment is difficult for him, but when he met Maggie, he melted. I was busy working with other students in another room at the time, but I hope to meet him next week. Mom says he really needs our support.
We were able to take many walks outside with students and support staff. Mom says it is sometimes easier for students to talk to counselors or teachers when they are walking a dog. Additionally, we provide a break from the stressors of the typical school day. Some students are on behavior plans and they earn time with us.
As with any new school year, there are new teachers at Mom’s school. They are amazed that we work at school and think it is wonderful that we are able to provide support to students in that setting. For us, it just is what it is. We do not know anything different, and we embrace our roles as therapy dog
Given how active and playful we are at home together, Mom thinks it is remarkable that we settle down and do such good work at school. We just get it – we understand that there are times to play, and there are times to work. There are students who really need us, and we are happy to be part of their education.
We are back to getting our weekly baths and daily brushings, as well as more frequent teeth brushing and ear cleaning! Oh well… it’s part of the deal when you are a working dog. And it is SO worth it!
We are looking forward to a terrific year at Mom’s school! ~Betty