Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Therapy Dogs

Some of you may already know that many ABQ libraries host a "Read to the Dogs" program every month. This program makes reading fun and non-stressful for children learning to read. But these dogs aren't just ordinary dogs. Did you ever wonder why these dogs are so special? Well, our "reading" dogs are all registered therapy dogs. We hear the term registered therapy dog all the time, but what exactly does that mean?

Therapy dogs are not just friendly dogs. They are friendly dogs that go through rigorous behavioral training and receive an actual certification to do what they do. The "test" that they take consists of displaying obedient behavior in the face of heavy distractions, interacting with people in different situations with no signs of aggression and also friendly and polite interactions with other dogs. The handler and dog also have to go on several supervised visits to health care facilities in order to be accepted.

Once they are certified, they have lots of different jobs to do. Besides contributing to the reading proficiency of young library patrons, therapy dogs and their handlers also visit nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospitals to name a few. If you and your child would like to come read to the dogs, check out the library system's schedule here.  To read more about therapy dogs, try a subject or keyword search by "Dogs - Therapeutic Use".

Also, April is National Pet Month so here are a few ways you can celebrate:
  • Do something to make your pets feel special; Take your dog to the park, buy them a new toy, give them a nice brush or massage. There are plenty of books in the catalog on pet care if you need suggestions!
  • Have a puppy party and invite all your friends and their dogs over for a fun day of play.

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