Runners and Victims of Last Year’s Boston Marathon Bombing are Comforted by Returning Therapy Dogs

Last year’s horrible Boston Marathon bombing killed three people—Lu Lingzi, 23, restaurant manager Krystle Marie Campbell, 29 and Martin William Richard, 8—and injure 260 more. Six golden retriever therapy dogs were brought in one day later to help comfort residents and families in addition to going to hospitals to visit the victims.

These dogs, referred to as “comfort dogs”, are specially trained by Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs of Chicago, IL. The program began with only four dogs after a shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008. Today, there are roughly 80 certified dogs within ten states in this program. The dogs are schooled from puppyhood; they’re taught to be able to work with various age groups and must be extremely friendly. They’ve gone to assist families and victims after other tragedies such as NJ’s Hurricane Sandy, Texas’ plant explosion, CT’s Sandy Hook School shooting as well as many other catastrophes. The comfort dogs have returned to assist in the city’s healing three times after the Boston bombings.

This year, on-lookers and participants of the Boston Marathon are filled with joy, excitement and hope in addition to fear and sadness. These same six therapy dogs—Addie, Luther, Hanna, Maggie, Isaiah and Ruthie—have come back to the Boston Marathon to console those whose family and friends died or were injured on April 15, 2013 and will be waiting at First Lutheran Church which is only a few blocks past the finish line. Addie and Maggie had just come from Newtown, CT where they’ve been needed since the trauma at the Sandy Hook School; the other dogs came directly from Chicago.

“The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs president, Tim Hetzner, explained, “They’re a calming presence and allow victims to open up and talk about what happened—which is a critical part of the healing process.”

Posted by Josh Griffith

Picking a Good Therapy Dog

It is time to get a dog. With a lot of thought towards the prospect of volunteering, you are interested in therapy dog training, so you decide to get a pet that will also work well at nursing homes and hospitals. It is time to find the perfect pet. Here are some tips to picking a good therapy dog.

If you are interested in taking your dog to hospitals and nursing homes right away, you might want to get a mature dog instead of a puppy.  Even if you are interested in having a therapy dog, a puppy might not be your best chance. They are fun but you can’t guarantee how the puppy will behave as he grows up. He might develop some characteristics that will not be good for going to a hospital or a nursing home.

Of course, mature dogs can come with their own set of challenges as well. Either way, you are going to want to look into the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program.

Do not get stuck on a certain breed when you are looking for a good therapy dog. Although some dogs are better suited for the job, breed does not guarantee that your dog will work well as a therapy dog. Qualities are much more important than breed. There are certainly a number of breeds, ranging in size from small to large, that have wonderful track records in disposition and learning.

If you do decide to get a mature dog, be sure to look at many different shelters and rescues.   Ask the workers and volunteers. Be clear with them what qualities you are looking for. Often, they work closely with the animals in their care and should be able to find the perfect companion for you.

As for qualities, you need a dog that is friendly with both people and other pets. They need to be calm and levelheaded so they are able to handle the commotion of a hospital or nursing home. Therapy dogs need to enjoy being petted and held. That will be their primary job, to be cuddled and loved. You also want an intelligent dog who is able to follow basic commands.

Not the most important, but therapy dogs need to be easily cleaned. Every dog needs routine baths and toenails trims but some dogs are easier to keep clean. You might not want a dog that needs frequent haircuts or a dog that sheds every time you take him somewhere. Drooling is also going to be a problem.

It is a big responsibility to decide that, in addition to getting a pet, you want a therapy dog. However, you need to find the best dog possible for the job. Spend time looking until you find exactly what you are looking for so that visiting hospitals and nursing homes is a pleasant experience for both of you.

Once you get that perfect partner, and you are ready for your dog’s gear, we’ll be here to help. Petjoy specializes in the manufacturing of working dog equipment which includes therapy dogs.

Posted by Josh Griffith

Do You Know Susquehanna Service Dogs?

At Petjoy, we respect the work of training organizations that work with service dogs.

Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD) nurtures and teaches dogs to aid both children and adults with impairments to live a self-sufficient life. In 1993 SSD was established by a team of volunteers with an idea of teaching dogs to aid people in living a self-sufficient lifestyle. With the aid of over one hundred and eighty volunteers throughout the state of Pennsylvania two hundred service dogs have been put with adults and children with impairments.

Usually there are fifty pups being taught with puppy raisers and at least fifteen service dogs are placed annually. SSD is a program of Keystone Human Services Children & Family Services and a member of Assistance Dog International with an accreditation.

SSD makes sure their dogs are in good health with the proper disposition to become a service dog. They use specifically bred dogs from their program, other dog assistance associations or personal breeders. The dogs receive a complete health testing, will be neutered or spayed and completes a rigid teaching program. Before placing a dog with a partner they must exhibit outstanding manners both in home and in public, plus execute an assortment of behavioral assignments on cue. Each dog will be taught to carry-out special assignments that depend on their partner’s requirements. A service dog can be taught to pull a wheelchair, pick up items, open or close doors, do balance tasks, switch lights on or off, locate a telephone and many other tasks. A hearing dog reacts to various sounds including a doorbell, knock at the door, timer on stove, clock alarm and other everyday sounds.

Service dogs can be taught to help adults and children with a variety of impairments. These dogs can aid a person with physical and psychiatric impairments. These dogs are also taught to aid people with polio, spinal cord injuries, autism, stroke victims, blind and the hearing impaired and many other disabilities.

A person who has filled out an application and been accepted into the SSD program will be matched with a service dog that has been taught to meet their requirements. You and your dog will take part in a two and a half week educational procedure where you and your dog will master the art of working as a team. SSD renders routine follow-up meetings and the service dog teams are required to pass a yearly recertification assessment. SSD makes every attempt to make sure the dogs work as they were taught and continue to help their partner.

It cost about twenty thousand dollars to teach and place a service or hearing dog. People can buy a service dog for five thousand dollars. Scholarships are attainable on a need basis.  More scholarships and money collected come from contributions and fundraising from associations, individuals and businesses. SSD receives money from the Capital Area United Way and they also hold special annual events to raise money. All cash raised stay in Pennsylvania to assist people in the community.

This is a wonderful program to train service dogs to partner with individuals with disabilities. These dogs are taught a variety of tasks to assist individuals in leading an independent lifestyle. SSD volunteers have undertaken an excellent service for the disabled and make it possible to receive the assistance they need for everyday life.

Visit our website Petjoy for more information about dogs and the equipment and supplies we carry for that special dog in your life.

Posted by Josh Griffith

WDC Introduces Children to Working Dogs

Again this summer teens who love dogs and are career minded will be able to boost their resumes and get interactive puppy practice via Penn Vet Working Dog Center (WDC). Middle school aged children will get a look into the demeanor skills of dogs and have a chance to take part in the teaching of these remarkable working dogs. This is a week long summer program at WDC.

The objective at the center is to reveal to the youth what the working dog does, how detection dogs are taught and how they are precisely taught at WDC. Some of the youth are intent on being veterinarians and the center is a way to reveal to them other occupations available working with dogs. The pupils will learn how to teach the dogs in clicker training, docility, liveliness and good health. The pupil will also converse with professionals who are laboring in the dog detection environment

The pupils will see personally how WDC teaches the dogs in the area of detection. The youth are subjected to the areas of search and rescue, police investigation, cancer signals and diabetic alarms. The Academy’s teaching will conclude with a pretend search. The pupils will be paired with a WDC dog to carry out their own search implementing the insight and procedure that was taught during the week. The pupils take part in the teaching for the dogs that will do astonishing work. The pupils get to have a definite impact on these dogs.

Middle school aged youth can select from three beginner sessions this summer. The dates are; 06/23 thru 06/27, 07/07 thru 07/11 and 07/21 thru 07/25. Twelve youths will be accepted for each session with a first come first serve basis. No prior knowledge is required but youths who have concluded a week of Academy training will be qualified to apply for an upgraded session running from 07/28 thru 08/01. The price for this program is $650 and the deadline for applications is 05/31/2014. Visit the WDC website to apply for this program which is held at Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia, PA.

This is a wonderful program teaching youth about the important work that these dogs do on a daily basis. Working dogs are a great asset whether assisting the police or working with people with disabilities. Petjoy offers a great assortment of supplies and equipment for these dogs. To view our products visit our website anytime.


Posted by Josh Griffith