Hi Aly –
I started a letter to you a couple weeks ago about Victoria and what she means to us, and got distracted. Well now I have more to say!
For YEARS I have wanted a dog who could work as a therapy dog, going to hospitals, foster homes, senior centers, etc etc etc. I’ve had 4 previous dogs in my adult life, all amazing rescues, but none who had the right attributes to become a therapy dog, and as much as I loved those dogs I was disappointed that they weren’t ever going to be therapy dogs. (And I know that there are a zillion amazing rescue dogs that work as therapy dogs…I just didn’t get lucky in that regard). That was probably the main factor in deciding to get a hand picked and highly trained dog, and thankfully I found you. From the start I had confidence that we would get the dog who was the best fit for us, and we did. Victoria is an amazing dog, so well behaved and sweet. She’s been a beautiful addition to our family, and from the start I had high hopes that she would make it in the therapy dog world.
So today was the day of her (our) evaluation….and let me tell you the process is intense! Her exam was held at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which had extra meaning to me because my son has a disease that has resulted in multiple hospitalizations and visits to CHLA. The exam is intense….I liken it to taking the Bar Exam for prospective attorneys! There were at least 8 examiners in the room, and she was faced with a multitude of scenarios that a therapy dog must be able to navigate successfully. Some of those scenarios….people very angrily yelling at each other, and then wanting to pet her. Someone approaching her in a big robe and big hat walking very clumsily with a squeaky walker. A neutral dog coming into the room and seeing that dog get excitedly fussed over by a group of people, and not reacting. A sudden loud noise nearly. Getting bumped in her blind spot. Walking by food on the floor. Having an exuberant group want to pet her. Getting a restraining hug. Politely accepting a treat from a stranger. Getting brushed by a stranger and having all paws, both ears and her teeth examined. Walking through a crowd of people who are passing all around her, talking, walking quickly or in wheelchairs, and remaining focused. Like I said – it was intense!
And I was also being independently graded on my handling of her and all of the situations.
IF a dog/team passes the evaluation, there are multiple levels that a dog can be approved for therapy dog work — and they can have restrictions on the type of work they can do. Only about 50% of dogs pass their initial evaluation, and most not with the highest level and no restrictions.
Well guess who passed with top marks and flying colors…..Queen Victoria did!!!
Thank you for giving her such a solid solid foundation, and supporting me in continuing her training and troubleshooting when needed. She’s a testament to the foundation you provided and to the continuing work that you set us up to do.
Today was an amazing amazing day. Tori and I are now a therapy dog team certified at the highest level. She is now even more a “puppy with a purpose” and she will provide joy to so many people who need it.
And for the first time the tears that were streaming down my face as I exited the CHLA parking lot were tears of JOY!
Thank you so much!!!
Jennifer and Tori