Canine College in Juno Beach is growing.
Through a partnership with the humane education organization Animals 101, Canine College now offers specialized training for those who wish to visit therapeutic facilities with their companion animals.
Animals 101 has been offering humane education programs in schools, including dog-bite prevention, dog training techniques, careers working with animals and a "Reading to Dogs" program, as well as other related topics.
Incorporating friendly, certified-activity dogs, these programs reach out to reluctant readers and students who have new household pets. These same animals are certified to work in hospices, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Canine College uses an assortment of materials and methods to specially train each dog for the work his or her owner is seeking to perform.
After a tailored training program, clients will be invited to have their dogs evaluated by a licensed Delta Society evaluator and earn the certification necessary to become a Pet Partner.
The Delta Society is a national organization that oversees the evaluation and certification of companion animals (not just dogs) that will be employed as activity and therapy animals.
If you are interested in working in facilities as a Pet Partner with your dog, here are a few things you should know.
Animal-assisted therapy is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is an integral part of the treatment process, says the Delta Society Web site. AAT is directed and/or delivered and documented by a health/human service professional with a specific clinical goal for a particular individual in mind.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, recreational therapists, teachers, social workers and others can incorporate AAT into their work and treatments in a multitude of ways, the Web site says.
Animal-assisted activities also provide social, motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits for people during interactions. These activities do not have to be overseen by healthcare professionals and do not work toward particular clinical goals. AAA often occurs in meet-and-greet sessions in a variety of settings and can be administered in groups or with individuals.
Dogs who are Delta-Society certified and working in either AAA or AAT settings are not service dogs, and therefore are not protected under the Americans with Disability Act. This means that they cannot be brought into public locations, such as stores and restaurants. They are not to be confused with service dogs, seeing-eye dogs and assistance dogs, such as those who are graduates from programs such as Canine Companions for Independence, Leader Dogs or New Horizons.
Once fully trained and certified, Pet Partners can visit schools and teach students about animals and the environment, demonstrating the animal-human bond, while teaching the proper way to introduce oneself to a dog.
Volunteers can also visit a variety of inpatient facilities or represent the Delta Society at community events, helping others learn about the joy of animal companionship.
Truly, being a Pet Partner is a most rewarding and important endeavor that will strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners while enhancing the community in a very special way.
For information on Canine College and how you can become a Delta-Society Pet Partner, call Birgit at (561) 371-6239. For information on Animals 101, visit www.animals101.com and for information on the Delta Society visit www.DeltaSociety.org.
Michelle Rivera is a humane educator and full-time dog trainer with Canine College. She is the author of several books on dogs and veganism. Her newest book, "Do Dogs Have Belly Buttons?" is due out in the spring of 2007 by Adams Media.