Friday, July 16, 2010

The Tangled Web

I've mentioned before that I have hopes of taking the therapy dog test with Bunny in the near future.  However, lately, the closer we get, the further away we seem to be.  I'm starting to get a rather jaded view of the whole therapy dog process.

When I had Treat certified, we went through TDI.  However, I became disillusioned with some of their practices and regulations.  One of the programs we really wanted to participate in was the READ program, and I have seen first hand how wonderful that program is.  The problem was that TDI refused to let you participate in READ and refused to cover you if you did participate.

I made up my mind that this time we were going to test with Delta Society.  They were supportive of the READ program and the more I researched them, the more I liked the idea of their test and evaluation process.  However, lately I've heard some things about them that really turn me off. 

It seems that Delta Society is now refusing to let anyone who feeds their dog a raw diet participate as a therapy dog.  Not only that, but if there's any other dog who eats a raw diet in the house, the therapy dog is still banned.  It seems highly suspicious that two of the people on Delta's board who are behind this new decision both work for Purina

I don't feed raw, but I'm not signing up with an organization that thinks they can dictate to me how to care for my dog.  It seems that more and more, these organizations are forgetting that the people who go into nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, schools and libraries are volunteers.  We gave up on the dream of visiting local hospitals already.  It's not free to volunteer, especially with therapy dogs.  I've always taken my dogs through obedience training before taking the test, which isn't cheap, but is money well spent.  Then, there are the fees to take the therapy test and to maintain your membership.  There's also the price of gas to get to the places where you visit.

I'm also left wondering how they plan to enforce a regulation like no raw feeding.  Where's the line?  What if a dog catches a rabbit or squirrel in the back yard (besides a dog who thinks he's king of the world)?  What about giving your dog a bone to chew on at times?  How are they going to check to see what the dog is eating or has been exposed to?  It brings up a lot of questions for me, and for many others, I'm sure.

So, for now, we're back to the drawing board.  I have seen the power of bringing therapy dogs in to visit people and in the READ program.  I know that it's very worthwhile.  The places where we currently visit don't require us to have certification, but I think it's important to have as insurance, particularly in the lawsuit-happy society that we currently live in.  I just know that we have to find an organization that's a good fit for us.  I'm curious to know how many of our readers are currently working as therapy dogs in some capacity, and what organization, if any, you work through. 

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  1. Holy hell is that a dirty practice. It's amazing how money and interests are starting to corrupt just about every aspect of our society.

    Good for you. Sorry for the frustration, but screw that!!

  2. Ugh I wish I could help you out, but since I'm used to other people tell me what to do with my..oops...their dogs..I'm drawing a blank here.

    Perhaps there are some service dogs schools in the area that would be willing too work with you.....!?

  3. Sorry to hear you face such hindrance in your effort to give some love to your community... sometimes in life, we just don't understand how some hoomans think.

    Licks, hero

  4. I have heard lots about Delta's ban on raw-fed dogs and I, too, am confused by it. I believe both kibble fed and raw fed dogs carry bacteria in their mouths and feces, so why should they ban one and not the other?

  5. Don't give up. There must be a way of letting others share in the girls beauty. Just don't get the raw diet issue - unless as you suggest it's money pulling the strings.

  6. Wow, that's not cool at all. I hopes that you can find some new way to share Bunny with people who need her calming presence.

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  7. Pretty soon dogs that lick their butts won't be allowed to do therapy either!

  8. Why should people make it difficult for folks to volunteer? It doesn't make sense. Hope you can find the right group soon!


  9. I'm not saying I approve of the ban, but I do think the reason they say no raw food fed dogs is because you really do get a lot more harmful bacteria with raw food. And with kids getting licked by the dogs it could bring up some serious law suits for Delta Society if the kids got sick. I think they are protecting their own skin.

    If your dogs catch rabbits and eat them occasionally I see no reason to tell this to Delta Society. If you always fed your dog raw diet, I wouldn't lie about it, but seeing as you don't that's not an issue.

    I've never participated in the READ program before, but I think it's a REALLY great thing to do, Bunny would be perfect!

  10. OMD, the timing of this post couldn't be more appropriate for us. My mom is taking Cali through the process now with TDI. She used Delta Society before and was not happy with them so wanted to try another organization. I cannot believe this about TDI!!! What in the world??

    Confused Wags,

  11. We had a look at Delta's website and it looks like they're concerned with liablity, number 1 and maybe access for the dogs as number 2. The rule doesn't make a lot of sense in life, since there's no way for them to be sure exactly what anydog is eating all the time. It makes a lot of sense in the legal arena and also if a facility raises the question regarding letting dogs in, because raw diet is still controversial. Maybe for no good reason, but in court that would make a huge difference, whether the facility was being sued or Delta or both. As a doggie who has two humans working for a 501(c)(3)not-for-profit, I know that sometimes they need to keep their eyes on the main mission. Delta's main mission is all about the therapy dogs. Even if there's some influence from Purina, which they claim there isn't, if Purina is a funding source that might have to be OK with them. Sometimes these organizations just have to decide whether to work with the funding sources or dissolve altogether. It still might be too restrictive to deal with, but I wouldn't let the raw diet issue alone stop me if it was something I really wanted to do unless raw diet was a huge issue for me, which is isn't because...ick. I don't even have any interest in the meat when I help look through the grocery bags. I try to help them locate my treats as quickly as possible, but that chicken and ground beef in there - it's only potential future dinner as far as I'm concerned.

    All that barked, I'm only talking generally about what non-profits must deal with and think about. I don't know anything about the specific organizations in question or if they are good or bad. I think being a therapy dog would be cool as anything, but it looks like being qualified to be one might be a pain in the tail.

    wags, Lola

  12. I'm really glad that you shared the information about Delta Society and their ban on raw feeding.:) IT is really unfortunate that so many groups are getting so restrictive about something that is supposed to be for the benefit of others. If you're willing to volunteer your time and effort for this, they should be thankful. I'll be interested to read whether you find a good therapy group or not. It's something I would love to look into in the future!

  13. I think a lot of dog organizations have lost their true missions - DOGS. Shelters and rescues charging exorbitant rates to adopt, therapy dogs who have to jump through legal hoops just to offer love to's sad.

    But banning because of diet? That's ridiculous.

  14. FRANKIE'S MOM HERE !!!! I could go on for HOURS about BOTH of these groups and the Two others that I am aware of, but .... let me tell you this... Most of us who take our dogs to "visit" wherever.. are truly concerned with the liability. RIGHT??? These groups have made such a huge issue of it, that it becomes ingrained in US. WELL, I'm here to tell you that you do NOT need any group membership to have the situation totally covered. I have had a RIDER attached to our Home Owners Insurance policy for YEARS. It only cost $2.75 Last year to have $200,000.00 in coverage for ANYTHING that Frankie may do or cause. So why would I be willing to pay CTD or any other group... the "dues" which cost considerably more.. to get the same coverage I get for TWO DOLLARS AND SEVENTY FIVE CENTS????
    See these groups SAY they are working for the good of our Dogs... but they are Working for a PAYCHECK.
    Frankie has had over $1,200.00 worth of training. I take him to 3 different nursing homes and 2 libraries. They didn't even ASK TO SEE HIS CERTIFACATES!! All they wanted was his Shot records!!! He makes a difference!!! And I am Not involved in any of those "groups" or their STUPID policies!!!
    Soooooo dear dear friend... Run to your insurance agent... get a rider policy for your home owner's policy and.... get out there and enjoy the volunteering. Give the "groups" the single digit salute each and every time you go out to make a visit!!!!
    As Frankie would say, Holy Cat Crap... mom's on a rant again. SORRY

  15. Frankie's mom is right - talk to your insurance agent about a rider policy under your homeowner's insurance. (Our mom works in the insurance industry so she knows :) )

    This should cover you and you can still do good by visiting those people who need it.

    Pugs & Kisses,

    Yoda & Brutus

  16. I had no idea it was so difficult to just try and give some doggie love and snuggles to folks. Has anyone been known to get sick from a petting session with a dog? I seriously doubt it.

    You go, Frankie's mom, rant away! What a great suggestion. Hope it protects Bunny and her family, so they can continue their visits.

  17. How frustrating when all woo want to do is do good and spread some fur and cheer!

    Paws khrossed woo will find something that works!


  18. I didn't realize how many regulations there are. We had been looking into doing therapy work with Miss M, which kind of got derailed with a lot of the time commitments and my school schedule. Right now she is just volunteering on the streets of Chicago to give "random acts of kindness" and licks to anyone who passes her way...

  19. My mom just read about this pawticular issue with Delta Society in Whole Dog Journal. Do you gets that magazine? If not, lets us know and maybe I can get mom to scan in the article and send it to you. Mom says that it seems awfully suspicious when there is pretty much NO evidence that raw foodables that doggies eat transmit buggies to sick people. Oh, yeah...and that whole Purina thing. Sorta suspicious to me.

    Mom says that she agrees with the peoples who say just gets some extra insurance and start therapy-ing!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  20. I heard about that, and it is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!!! Kibble has plentyyyy of bacteria in it too! Dogs are dogs are dogs, if they wanted sterile little furry things on legs than maybe they can just bring people stuffed animals?

    This is what the Whole Dog Journal has to say about it...

    I think if we ever have anough time to do therapy dog work, Rugby wants to do READ too. We would go through Fidos for Freedom
    Maybe there is an organization like that around you somewhere?

  21. WooooooWeeeeeee...I glad I'm not a trained doggie now fur sures.
    I was under da impression we already had bacteria in our mouths and what about da hoomans that go in places, they gots bugs too. How comes da peoples don't ask them fur shot records...duh! Why should somebuddy be ables to tell my mum what to feed me or not feed me?
    Hmmm, I guess Cloud da Wonder dog AIN"T involved in all dis huh? He bes on dat raw food diet.


  22. Wow how frustrating! Mom was thinking of looking into me doing therapy with seniors after I pass my CGC but I don't think any of us realized it was so difficult. I hope it all works out for you because the ones in need are the ones paying the price :-(

    Face Licks

  23. I agree with your thinking - but I hate to think that you can't find a good organization for certifying your therapy dog. My goodness - you'd think that these organizations would be enthusiastically welcoming to anyone who wants to volunteer with a sweet dog like yours. I hope that you find a good fit.

    I used to do Search and Rescue work with my Lab, Acadia. I found a very similar kind of attitude - like they were doing ME a favor to let me volunteer huge amounts of time. Although I could handle the rules then, I know that I wouldn't be able to tolerate the same rules now because they dictated punishment-based training.

    In any case, I wish you luck in your quest to do good in this world!

  24. That would seem very hard to regulate? How can they know what you feed your dog at home? Seems to border on the ridiculous really!

    I hope you find a way around this all as a Therapy Dog is an very important job and Bunny would (and does) bring much joy to folks that need it!!

  25. I am pretty good with kids and my mom thought about getting me certified so I could visit the children's hospital. I don't want to brag, but kids LOVE me and I am as gentle as can be. Unfortunately, I didn't meet the qualifications - it was pretty disappointing for all of us ...

    Your pal, Pip

  26. thanks for posting about this. i hope to do therapy work with booker in the future, so this was informative for me. it sounds like a liability issue for delta society, but i do find it a little seedy that 2 of the board members work for purina. i like frankie's mom's a little extra for the homeowner's insurance rider!

  27. Thanks for offering to take a nap in our honor. That would be amazing. What great pictures of you (sorry our eyes are really too tired to read words right now).

    Felissa, Davinia, and Indiana

  28. Those are "interesting" regulations, right?
    Therapy dogs is something we will never see here!
    And that makes us feel sad.
    I am sure you will find the right group to join!
    Kisses and hugs

  29. It always makes me sad to see how a very good endeavor in the beginning manages to become corrupt in the end. :-( It is absolutely ridiculous to think that a therapy dog organization can dictate what you feed your dog.... what in the world does that have to do with being a therapy dog and making people in a nursing home, hospital, etc. HAPPY??!!

  30. This is all so interesting to our Mom who hopes one day to have either Thunder or Ciara be a therapy dog. She had no idea about all this crap. Frankie's mom has a great idea. But we aren't sure it will work for us because our breed is on that stupid dangerous dog list and it is already hard enough to get an insurance company to let our humans have homeowners insurance without trying to add a rider for more protection. Tough world we live in.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  31. I'm sure that those ties to Purina have nothing to do with Delta's decision-making. Oh and also all those lobbyists in Washington don't influence laws and there is no quid pro quo in corporate campaign contributions, either.

  32. So well put. We're on the lookout ourselves but we sure were turned off by the Delta restrictions. No idea what we're going to do yet, you're obviously ahead of us on this, but we look forward to what else you want to share on the subject and hopefully we'll post something useful for you too.
    Twinkie and the pack


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