Therapeutic Canine

Our dogs bring joy to our lives, and they can do the same for others.

I was pleased recently to learn that my friend Shawn‘s dog Dulcie had been certified as a therapy dog.

Shawn and I have known each other for many years, since both of us showed our dogs at the Gage County Fair. (She had a mastiff; I had a rottweiler.) I have never met Dulcie and wanted to know more about her and what makes her a good candidate as a therapy dog. Here’s what Shawn had to say about her sweet English Springer Spaniel:

What is Dulcie’s story?

I got Dulcie when she was about 3 months old.  I’ve grown up around Mastiffs, so I’m not quite sure what possessed me to get an English Springer Spaniel. I guess I wanted something different.  She was different. Mastiffs run around for two minutes and then sleep for four.  Dulcie is like the Energizer Bunny-she NEVER stops!  Dulcie is also handicapped. She was born without an eye.  However no one told her, she has no problems.

What makes her well-suited to being a therapy dog?  
Dulcie is a very happy, outgoing dog.  She loves people, especially kids.  She also loves to perform. She definitely knows when she is “On.”
What did her training consist of? 
I took Dulcie to puppy obedience and socialization classes.  Then I worked with her on my own in obedience skills.  I spent several years in Dog 4-H so that was a great help.  We trained to get our Canine Good Citizen Degree (from AKC but any dog can get it).  The most important thing I did was to take her to as many different types of place and events that I could and to expose her to as many different people I could.  That is the best training for a therapy dog.
What aspects of the training were most challenging for her? 
Dulcie has what I call “selective springer hearing”.  When she is on the trail there is no stopping her.  The “Come” command is a continuous work in progress.
What is she really good at? 
Dulcie makes people happy, just by being  her doggie self!  She loves to show off and play.  Dulcie is the Ultimate Diva Dog!
Where will she go and who will she help as a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs are used in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehab centers, and more.  Dulcie and I would like to work with our Community Preschool, which has children with disabilities.  We would also like to work with the grade schools.  Dulcie has a disability that doesn’t stand in her way, and it is important to promote that message as early as possible.
Have you had therapy dogs before? 
Dulcie my first but definitely not last therapy dog.
Why is this important to you? 
I love animals and I know that my animals have helped me through tough times. I want to share that.  Also it’s hard not to smile when getting doggie kisses!
What is something about therapy dogs and therapy dog training that people may not know or understand? 

Our dogs bring joy to our lives, and they can do the same for others.

ANY dog can be a therapy dog.  It’s not about a certain breed or even if the dog is a purebred or a mutt.  What is important is how the dog relates to people.

Is Boo jealous of Dulcie’s accomplishment? 
Of course, he wants to be just like her!  We are working on getting him trained too.

Readers: What kind of experience do you have with therapy dogs? Have you ever thought about getting your pet certified?

To learn more about AKC therapy dog groups, visit


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on September 17, 2012, in Dogs, Dogtography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great post!

    I have many friends who have their TD title on their Chessie’s. It is a wonderful program.

  2. runningwithellen

    My German shepherd, Dakota, was a certified therapy dog. I think I got more out of it than he did, for I was always amazed at how his presence made hospital patients light up, come alive. I know I always felt 200% better after a day of volunteering.

  3. Congratulations!!!
    Our dogs are uncertified therapy dogs; they always give me the most support when I need it. It never ceases to amaze me what dogs can do.

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