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.
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.