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“How can I get my dog therapy-certified?”

Many of us here at the Newton Falls Public Library have seen therapy dogs at work, whether at hospitals, nursing homes, or even colleges. Therapy dogs are different from service dogs such as seeing-eye dogs and seizure-response dogs. While service dogs are specifically trained to assist a person with their documented disability, therapy dogs are pets with the training and temperament to volunteer at nursing homes, hospitals, and anywhere else that people would benefit from the comfort of a friendly dog.

Inputting “therapy dog certification Ohio” into an online search engine brought up the websites of several different regional organizations, along with http://www.therapydoginfo.net/ which gives a list of national and state-specific therapy dog organizations. There is no single officially-recognized therapy dog certification. Instead, our patron’s best bet would be to find the organization that best suits them and then to make contact to find out what kind of training they offer or require. The American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program is suggested as a good place to start. It’s required by several therapy organizations, and would give dogs and their owners a good idea of what to expect.

While dogs of any size can serve as therapy dogs (one of our librarians affectionately remembers the Rottweilers, Newfoundlands, and Irish Setter who faithfully visited her college campus every Monday evening), Animal Planet put together a list of the top ten small breeds for therapy work [http://animal.discovery.com/pets/10-small-dog-breeds-for-therapy-work.htm], including beagles, poodles, and Yorkshire terriers. It turns out that one of the first therapy dogs was a Yorkshire terrier found in a foxhole during World War II. Cleveland resident Cpl. Bill Wynne adopted her, named her “Smoky” and trained her to assist in the war effort. Her duties included making the rounds with Dr. Charles Mayo (of the Mayo Clinic) to visit injured soldiers.

Cpl. Wynne wrote a memoir about his time with Smoky called “Yorkie Doodle Dandy,” available for borrowing through CLEVNET. Patrons looking for more stories about therapy dogs can check out “Angel on a Leash: Therapy Dogs and the Lives They Touch” by David Frei, available here at the Newton Falls Public Library.

For answers to your questions, visit the Newton Falls Public Library, 204 S. Canal Street, Newton Falls or phone 330-872-1282. For information about all the free library programs or hours, visit our website at www.newtonfalls.org or our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewtonFallsLibrary.