Great news! Our girl Fiona has passed her Canine Good Citizen test. CGC certification is generally a requirement to becoming a therapy dog. Huskies are smart when it comes to training, but can be pretty headstrong. As in – I know what you want me to do – but I choose not to do it right now! The CGC test consists of ten steps of obedience and good behavior, and Fiona thankfully passed them all.
Our initial goal is to do reading therapy work. This is generally listed at “Read to a Dog” at your local library. Children who are learning to read, read to and pet the dog. The dog is an impartial observer and non judgmental of course, of reading ability. Children are encouraged and excited to read to the dog. Who knew learning to read could be so much fun?
My parents were avid readers and instilled a love of reading and learning in me from a very early age. I remember when I “got it” and reading made sense. I took off like a rocket, reading books way beyond my age level, voraciously and with great joy. I am hopeful that working with Fiona and young readers can give that same joy to others.
Fiona is very gentle with people and loves to love. She senses boundaries and knows intuitively what people want from her. I don’t know how she knows, but she knows. We took her to the nursing home where her Grammy Mervin lives (Rob’s Mom), and she had people ask to pet her who had been afraid of dogs their whole lives. She takes treats so softly that she almost drops them.
Fiona met one man at the nursing home who had raised huskies in his youth; he was in a wheelchair and she stood up gently to put her paws in his lap and kiss him, which is what he wanted. There was another woman who was fearful of dogs, but curious; Fiona slowly licked her outstretched hand and went no further. Both people were so happy to have met Fiona and she really seemed to brighten the day for them. Which is why I think therapy work will be very rewarding for both Fiona and for me, and very helpful to those she meets.
Our other dog Secret is not yet mature enough for therapy dog work, although I hope she will be ready in a year or two. She also is a very loving dog. She can learn by her older sister Fiona’s example for now!
Our next step is to find a therapy dog group, perhaps our local SPCA, although there are many others. We’ll keep you posted on our progress!