At Fur and Feather Works, we are proud to support students with an interest in Therapy Dog work in pursuing this noble goal. Our Therapy Dog and Handler class helps dogs take the leap from well-trained pets to registered therapy dogs.
Is therapy work for you and your dog? Therapy Dog & Handler Spotlights help you decide. In this Spotlight, get to know Fur and Feather Works trainer, Ericka Kinsey, and her Basset Hound/German Shepherd mix, Apollo.
Ericka, how did you and Apollo get involved in therapy dog work? Apollo is a rescue who was re-homed to me by a friend when she realized her life couldn’t include a dog. He and my other dog, Sadie, had walked and played together, so I knew they were a good fit for each other. Apollo’s a mellow, unflappable dog who loves to eat, cuddle, and sleep. I decided right away that he’d be wonderful for pet therapy.
What kind of therapy visits do you and Apollo do? We’ve done pet therapy visits to the Regional 911 Dispatch Center, and are involved with Paws2Read, a monthly event organized by Paws4Love-Reno, where children read to visiting dogs at local libraries. It’s fun to watch the children interact with and show pictures to Apollo! We also bring weekly pet therapy to Renown Regional Medical Center, where Apollo has numerous fans.
What do you enjoy about therapy dog work? I love watching Apollo bring joy, love, and laughter to stressed employees and families. I remember a young woman who had flown in from New Jersey to visit her father in the ICU. She started to cry, and Apollo leaned into her as she stroked him. Another time visitors who had just lost a family member all wanted to visit and pet Apollo, as if knowing they would be comforted.
Do you have advice for people considering training their dog for therapy work? My advice for anyone interested in training their dog for pet therapy is to learn about the certification criteria, determine if their dog fits the eligibility requirements, and attend classes with a positive reinforcement trainer to work towards this goal. Being part of a pet therapy team is a life-enriching experience, so I definitely recommend it!
Therapy Dog and Handler class is only available a few times per year, and it can fill quickly. Get on the wait list for the next offering of this class by emailing email@example.com to express your interest!