So, as I often do, I got into an argument on the internet with a person I kind of want to bash over the head with a rolled up newspaper. It wouldn’t hurt them, not really, but it would make me feel better.
(Italics is their words, bold are mine)
Therapy animals don’t have to have any special training. My mom has a 13 year old poodle who her psychiatrist “prescribed” to her as a therapy/companion animal because she is bipolar and didn’t want to have to pay a pet deposit at her apartment.
I’m sorry, I’m going to have to disagree with you about therapy animals not needing any special training. They DO need training (IMO)and need to be REALLY well grounded in the basics (come, sit, lie down, drop it) and they have to be able (again IMO) to pee on command ANYWHERE you ask them to because you never know where you’re going to go with them.
The idea that any pet (especially dogs) can just BE a therapy animal because somebody says “This is my therapy animal” without getting the proper training (again..this pertains particularly to dogs/cats/other largish animals that might be used as therapy animals like mini horses, etc) drives me crazy. I know you can just say “This is my therapy animal” and buy the right kind of vests, paperwork etc on the internet. BUT real therapy animals (again IMO) have hours and hours of training put in so they can do their job properly. I’ve looked into therapy dogs for my son (who is autistic) and the ones I”ve looked at cost anywhere from 30-50 GRAND. For one dog. That’s money I don’t have but I understand WHY they are charging so much for their dogs. They are purebreds, for one thing, and for another they have to somehow recoup the cost of feeding/housing/vet care for the dogs as well as the cost of spending hundreds (if not thousands) of hours training the dogs.
IN MY EXPERIENCE, they do not need any special training if they are merely there for comfort/companionship. My grandma was able to bring her completely untrained bichon frise as a “therapy dog” to her assisted living facility when her Alzheimer’s started to get bad. And so did the other residents. Some of them wore vests that you can buy online. Often times I’d see residents who knew their dogs, but didn’t recognize close family. Therapy has many different meanings… as a cat lover myself, can totally understand how stroking a cat’s fur could be therapeutic to child with autism. And as far as cat training goes… well there’s a reason we don’t have seeing eye cats. They just aren’t trainable… or worth a damn on a leash.
After reading this, I threw up my hands. I don’t know if I’m being a jerk here or not, to be honest (my jerk-o-meter is broken right now. I am attempting to fix that with copious amounts of coffee). Because to me, an untrained (for therapy work) dog or cat or other animal with a therapy animal vest/papers is just a dadgummed pet. And while it may be more DIFFICULT to train cats to do tricks, walk on a leash, etc..it’s certainly not impossible. Although I’ve never done it myself, I’ve seen it done.
I will always stand by my opinion that real therapy animals have hundreds if not thousands of hours of training in how to do their job. Because that’s what it is…a JOB. And if your so called therapy dog or emotional support dog isn’t properly trained, then I’m going to wonder why. I”m going to wonder why your animal is wearing a vest that sort of screams “I’m well behaved and very well trained and doing a job here” when they’re running around like crazy, barking and jumping up all over the place (which I have seen). Your dog may be wearing an “I’m a therapy dog” or “I’m an emotional support dog” vest, but if they’re not well behaved and totally ignoring me (which I’ve noticed most therapy dogs do, until they’re given the command to pay attention to me), I’ll know better.