Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ryder spreads the love.

A couple winters ago, my mother fell in the snow and broke both of her arms, necessitating a six week stay in a rehab/nursing facility.  To cheer her up, I brought our collie Ryder to visit and work his magic.  He was such a hit, we brought him back a few times, and before long the other patients and residents were calling him into their rooms to visit.  The staff also fell under his charms and when I would show up to visit my mother without him, they would ask me to go get him!  All of which started me thinking about getting Ryder certified as a Therapy dog.  And this past summer, while we were at Sunnybank, I finally had him take the test, which he passed.

I had to wait for all his paperwork to go through, but finally in September, he was ready to start doing visits.  I contacted a few local nursing homes, and they all agreed to let him come visit.  But one Nursing home in particular was very enthusiastic, and even asked if they could put him on their weekly schedule!  They do a lot of activities for their residents, and were very happy to have a therapy dog stopping by the Nursing home.  It has been such a wonderful experience, and we can see how positively the residents have responded to Ryder’s visits.  Many of them light up when they see him coming down the hall, and one resident even had her family buy her a bag of dog cookies, so she has them to give to him when he visits.  And some of the staff look forward to his visits too, one particular lady keeps treats in her desk for him as well.

I recently planned a movie day, where I had Ryder and two other therapy dogs visit with the residents and watch an old Lassie movie with them.  It was a big success, judging by the smiles on their faces.  The staff even took pictures of Ryder and the other dogs with the residents, and printed them so the residents could hang them in their rooms.

We recently learned that the AKC, in order to encourage pure bred dog owners to pursue pet assisted therapy work, have made Therapy Dog titles!  Ryder is one visit away from earning his THDN.

Therapy Dog Titles
·         AKC Therapy Dog Novice (THDN) Must have completed 10 visits.
·         AKC Therapy Dog (THD) Must have completed 50 visits.
·         AKC Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA) Must have completed 100 visits.
·         AKC Therapy Dog Excellent (THDX) Must have completed 200 visits.
·         AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished (THDD)

Doing pet assisted therapy dog work has been a very rewarding experience, and it has so many benefits for the residents.  It can improve a patient’s social interaction and can improve their emotional health, as many are still sad after giving up their pets when they entered the facility.  Therapy dogs can also visit hospitals, hospice facilities, schools, libraries and sites of disasters.  To learn more about Therapy dog programs click on any of the following links:

AKCTherapy Dogs
Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs
TDI - Therapy Dogs Internatiional


  1. The work you do is so important.

    I often throughout if our situation had been different Bailey would have been an amazing therapy dog he had great instincts.

    We used to bring him to visit my grandma in her nursing home and while there he always seemed to have a round of people he needed to see and a avoided those who didn't want contact w without needing to be told.

  2. How wonderful that Ryder gets to do that - bet he is a very big hit with all the patients!
    Woos - Lightning and Misty

  3. Congratulations Ryder! My ghostwriter works at a nursing home and she says whenever someone brings a doggie to visit, everyone becomes very happy and excited. Pets bring out the best in everyone. One lady had a collie named Laddie, who is long gone for probably 75 years now, but she remembers him as if he was still alive. We tell her Laddie is staying with her daughter. Please continue to go and visit the nursing homes as much as you can!

    Hope you have a Happy Christmas! Thank you for visiting the Daily Bone. Your friend, Chester

  4. I really, really love this post! KUDOS AND CONGRATULATIONS!! I so admire owners and pups like your boy Ryder who take the time and make a difference in someones day. I so hope that if (when?) I'm in a similar situation like your Mother that there is a pup like Ryder to visit me!