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Homeward Bound Q&A: Therapy dogs?

Dear Homeward Bound,
Does your organization ever provide therapy dogs for visitation to local hospitals or rehabilitation centers?
From,
Curious
Dear Curious,
We so glad you are thinking of ways to connect people with pets! The benefits of animal companionship to people in need are countless. Lots of people think of their local humane society when thinking of where to find therapy dogs but sometimes this is like barking up the wrong tree.
Therapy dogs are specifically trained to do their work and are typically very well socialized with people and environments of all kinds so that they are safe with whomever they encounter. There is a great organization, therapydogs.org, specifically devoted to training therapy dogs and their website provides information on how to request therapy dog visits.
In contrast to therapy dogs, the dogs that come in to Homeward Bound are quite often in need of some socialization and therapy themselves to learn how to relax and adapt to life. They may be strays who never had exposure to people and families; they may be young, rambunctious dogs who were surrendered when they outgrew puppyhood and all their puppy habits of chewing and jumping weren’t so cute anymore; or they may be dogs with specific behavior challenges, such as a fear of men, that makes them unsuitable for taking out and about.
We work hard to help the dogs at Homeward Bound overcome their challenges so that they can fit well into the particular family that fits them but we know it’s just too much to ask them to offer comfort when they are just too needy themselves.
Good luck in your search to connect people with therapy dogs! We know you’ll succeed.
Homeward Bound
 
Editor’s note: This is the first in what will be a regular series of columns from Homeward Bound. If you have a question, email shelter@homewardboundanimals.org.

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