Back when we had our Seafood Extravaganza our friend Marylee, who works at Hoffman Hospice, was commenting on how wonderful Gus was and suggested he might be a good Therapy Dog. She invited us to go to the Responsible Dog Ownership Day at Yokuts Park that Saturday and visit their booth where I could pick up more information. I did that and also got Gus blessed by the Catholic priest who was there. I met Kim, the volunteer coordinator. The next week I talked to her over the phone and she mailed me the packet with more information and lots of paperwork to fill out.
Things moved a little slowly because Hoffman Hospice has moved to a new location. If you've ever picked up and moved you know what a headache it can be sometimes. But finally Kim called and let me know she had made arrangements for Gus to be temperament tested. That was last Friday. While Gus was in another room with the trainer I went to Kim's office for my interview. I was a little nervous, I must admit. I knew Gus would do fine. I wasn't so sure if they'd want me though!
You've heard it said "timing is everything"? It just so happened that the newly formed Junior Handlers of Kern County (Dog Club) were having a fun match on Sunday. Barbara, the trainer who was temperament testing Gus, would also be there to judge a handling class as well as the test for the AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test and to certify dogs for Therapy Dogs International. Gus would have to pass the testing for the TDI before he could go to work.
Well now things were rolling along. Obviously Gus passed his temperament testing and I apparently passed mine, so now we were headed for Liberty Park on Sunday. Only one other person signed up for the TDI certification which helped my nerves a little. We took turns going through the 15 requirements. Both dogs did really well. Of course, Gus did just a little better, if I say so myself!! I was given another handful of paperwork to fill out and we were done.
What's left now is that Gus needs to get a physical examination from the vet, I'll take a head shot photo of Gus and mail some papers in. He'll get his own i.d. card. I start my volunteer training on Thursday which will last several weeks. We're hoping we can do our first visit during December or January.
Guess what the kicker is on this whole story? I asked Barbara how many other therapy dogs and handlers Hoffman Hospice has. She looked at me matter of factly and said, "You're it. You'll be the first." I feel humbled to making history! (The pressure!!!!)
Gus will be fine. I may be a nervous wreck though. We'll keep you posted.