A Labradoodle Can Be A Great Therapy Dog

Here’s a great story about Bogie, that proves how A Labradoodle Can Be A Great Therapy Dog. Some breeds are better than others when it comes to finding the right dog for being a children’s or child therapy dog, or a dog that will do well in a hospital situation. There is something very special about these Poodle mixes that are part Labrador and part Poodle, and are known as a Labradoodle. They have just the right combination of smarts and personality that makes for an excellent candidate for pet therapy.

Check out this story about Bogie, that shows just why A Labradoodle Can Be A Great Therapy Dog.

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This Lab-Poodle Could Be A Great Therapy Dog

EMC Lifestyle – Imagine a drug that can lower your blood pressure, improve self-esteem, increase reading skills and improve the survival rate of heart attack and angina patients. Sounds like a miracle drug, right? But it’s for real.

It’s called a dog. Extensive research has found each of the above benefits of dog companionship.

You don’t have to quote the research to Robere Keirstead, whose dog Bogie, a Labradoodle named after Humphrey Bogart, is a certified therapy dog.

Bogie, who turns five years old on Feb. 2, is one very special dog. Bogie and Keirstead work in two local settings. On Monday and Friday, they visit John XXIII Catholic School. They also visit Waterford Retirement Residence.

Bogie teaches children that good things can happen in the world. But Bogie’s just passing along what he learned himself.

“Socialization is very important for dogs,” said Keirstead. “You have to teach them that the real world is good.”

That helps them develop confidence and comfort around people and other dogs.

“You also have to teach them good manners,” she said.

Keirstead lives with three dogs and took each of them to puppy kindergarten when they were young.

“I still take them to agility training,” she added.

It’s all part of becoming a professional team.

It’s not easy meeting the standards to become a therapy dog. When Bogie was about 18 months old, he was tested to become a St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog.

“They’re looking for a dog who has a steady personality,” said Keirstead. “They drop cans behind you to see if the dog startles or runs away. The dogs are also introduced to people on crutches, in wheelchairs and wearing long housecoats.”

If anything indicates that the dog does not have a stellar and stable personality, it is not allowed in the program.

Bogie’s first assignment involved visiting Kingston General Hospital. After working as a therapy dog for a year, Bogie became eligible to be tested for certification as a child therapy dog.

This time the testing was downright wild.

“They have several children, from 8 to 10 years old,” said Keirstead. “You walk into the room with the dog and music is playing, children are throwing toys. Then they put Bogie in the centre and the kids ran around playing Ring Around A Rosie. They fall down, scream, and make lots of noise. Then one at a time the come running beside the dog and flop onto a mattress and scream. Again, they’re looking to see if the dog is nice and steady. If the dog runs, growls, jumps on a child, or takes a toy and won’t bring it back, they’re not allowed in the program.”

Again, Bogie passed with flying colours. Next, he went through an assessment to determine if he met the standards to become involved in the St. John’s Ambulance Reading Education Assistance Dog (READ) program called Paws 4 Stories. Bogie became the first dog in Kingston to volunteer in a school for this program.

“The role of therapy dogs is so important,” said Keirstead. “Dogs are ideal reading companions because they help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure. They listen attentively. They do not judge, laugh or criticize. They allow children to proceed at their own pace.”

In January 2010, Bogie went to work at École Catholique Cathedrale every Monday and Friday morning. This year, the pair visit John XXIII Catholic Elementary School in Collins Bay.

“The Paws 4 Stories program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful methodreading to a dog.”

Keirstead explained that when a dog is listening, the environment is transformed. A child’s dread is replaced by eager anticipation, and learning occurs.

“The handler is a skilled facilitator, tooshifting performance pressure off the child and providing support while the child gets supervised reading practice necessary to build vocabulary, increase understanding of the material, and gain fluency as a reader.”

In addition to her dog training and dog therapy skills, Keirstead is a retired teacher and painter. So she knows a lot about creativity, education and how to help children learn.

“I believe if children can develop a love of books and reading in the early grades the whole world is open to them,” she said. “If a child struggles in the early grades with reading and never gets up to grade level, before you know it he is in Grade 5 or 6 and cannot read well.”

Isn’t it great how Bogie, the Labradoodle, can actually help young students improve reading skills and gain confidence in the classroom? I like hearing about these situations where a Poodle or Poodle-mix like Bogie really becomes a valued asset in assisting children in schools or giving loving comfort to ailing patients in a hospital. The article here shows us why A Labradoodle Can Be A Great Therapy Dog.

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