The Fur Angels Pet Therapy Group have the utmost pride in all our therapy dogs, and love to share their giving personalities wherever needed. All of our therapy dog teams have been fully tested to the highest standards and have passed the AKC Good Citizen test and are fully certified and tested with The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc. The Fur Angels Group of Michigan is non-profit and can accept tax deductible donations. There is no charge for any of our visits. Our reward is seeing the smiles and comfort our dogs create, and all they want is simply a scratch behind the ear or tummy rub and our dogs are paid in full. Some information on Therapy Dogs and the wonderful work they do.
What is a Therapy dog?
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, and people with learning difficulties, or in stressful situations.
Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.
A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with him, while calmly enjoying that attention. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto a persons lap or bed, or just "paws up" on the side of a bed and stay there quietly. Some dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience.
Classification of Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs are not service or assistance dogs. Service dogs directly assist humans and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas. In the United States, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance and are not mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs.
Many organizations provide testing and accreditation for therapy dogs. In the United States, some organizations require that a dog pass the equivalent of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test and then add further requirements specific to the environments in which the dogs will be working. Other organizations have their own testing requirements. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises; can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably; are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving; get along well with children and with the elderly; and so on.
History of the Therapy Dog
During World War II, under combat operations against Japanese forces on the island of New Guinea, Corporal William Wynne came into possession of a young adult Yorkshire Terrier abandoned on the battlefield. He named the female dog Smoky.
Smoky accompanied Wynne on numerous combat missions, provided comfort and entertainment for troops, and even assisted the Signal Corps in running a telegraph cable through an underground pipe, completing in minutes what might have been a dangerous, three-day construction job which would have exposed men and equipment to enemy bombers.
Smoky's service as a therapy dog began when Corporal Wynne was hospitalized for a jungle disease. As Wynne recovered, Wynne's Army pals brought Smoky to the hospital for a visit and to cheer the soldier up. Smoky immediately became a hit with the other wounded soldiers. Dr. Charles Mayo, of the famed Mayo Clinic, was the commanding officer who allowed Smoky to go on rounds and also permitted her to sleep with Wynne in his hospital bed for five nights. Smoky's work as a therapy dog continued for 12 years, during and after World War II.
The establishment of a systematic approach to the use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a Golden Retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions. Over the years other health care professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits, and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.