One of Frankie’s many visits to Libby’s House visiting with resident Donna. Donna loved petting Frankie’s ears!
I’ve been getting such wonderful and positive feedback about Through Frankie’s Eyes. Thank you! One such reader, Suzan asked if I could elaborate a bit more about Frankie’s work as a therapy dog.
She asked where we went for training. I did include a link on the resource page at the end of my book, but we went through Therapy Dogs Incorporated. There are various other organizations and two others I know of are Therapy Dogs International and Delta Society. I did have to first get special permission from Therapy Dogs Incorporated before I began the training because of Frankie’s special needs.
I feel fortunate to have found a woman in my area who was a tester through Therapy Dogs Incorporated. I was able to work with her one on one. I didn’t find the training hard and from what Julie shared with me that one of the most important things is that Frankie paid attention to my moves and followed along. I never realized it before this, but Frankie was very good at that. Frankie seemed to just know what to do when we visited facilities. It truly fascinated me.
Each therapy dog organization works in a similar way in regards to training, though some may require more or stricter standards– depending where you will be doing work too.
Suzan also wondered how I found places to take Frankie for therapy dog visits. Sadly, there are just not enough therapy dogs as more and more places are asking for them these days. But I knew I wanted to visit the elderly and was also interested in going to our local hospital. Somehow I heard through the grapevine that Libby’s House, newly open, was looking for a therapy dog. Before I even had Frankie trained I called and asked once we passed the testing, could we visit there. They were thrilled!
I don’t think it’s too hard to find places to volunteer as there is a need in most states. You may even try to find local groups that do pre-training with dogs before you take the big test as there are many groups out there like that too.
Lastly, Suzan asked if it was hard to get school visits for Frankie. I didn’t find that to be the case. I did some promotion at the beginning, but once I did a few schools and libraries, the word just spread. I was also very conscious of not over doing Frankie’s visits and making sure she had plenty of time to be a dog. We started out doing 2-3 a week and as she aged I cut back to one a week at the most, and then semi-retired her before fully retiring her. But schools seemed very open to learning about Frankie. And I do think the fact that I had a dog as part of my show, that certainly helped. They keep kids very well entertained. I can’t tell you how many times teachers of the younger kids in Kindergarten and first grade commented how well their kids sat through my half hour presentation. I always gave credit to Frankie as she was quite mesmerizing and fascinating her wheelchair.
Thanks, Suzan for asking these questions. I hope I answered them for you.