Those of us who see these dogs do their “work”, don’t really understand exactly how they do what they do. Maybe it’s in the way they wag their tail and act happy when they see you… Maybe it’s the way they snuggle up against you to get closer when they sense that you want to hug them… Maybe they gently kiss you because they feel your tenderness… They react to you, as you react to them, with no conditions nor demands for their love. Maybe it’s all of these things together. Whatever “it” is, it has been proven that it can make a profound difference for someone when such a connection is made.
If you think back to your childhood days, you may remember a certain stuffed teddy bear or a special blanket that helped you feel warm and secure when you hugged them. Therapy dogs are that teddy bear or blanket… warm and real, and when you hug them, they hug you back…..
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Throughout the year we receive many invitations to speak at Girl Scout and Boy Scout meetings. At the meetings we talk about the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs as well as the requirements for a pet to become a therapy dog. Of course, at the end of the presentation our dogs love spending some "therapy" time with the scouts!
Reading to dogs is fun! Dogs are wonderful listeners and they create a relaxed atmosphere where children can practice their oral reading skills while petting a friendly dog. Our dogs and their handlers have been invited to many public libraries throughout the Lehigh Valley. Some are located in Allentown, Easton, Emmaus, Kutztown and Parkland.
It's never too early to learn about volunteerism. The Community Service 5th grade club at Willow Lane Elementary School in Macungie learned what therapy dogs do and how they are different from service dogs. After the introduction of the dog/handler teams and a question/answer period, members of the CS Club had a chance to informally meet the teams and ask more questions. PS Anyone aged 12 through 17 may be tested with a dog to become a junior member. Please see Alliance of Therapy Dogs for more information.
Our dogs are invited to area colleges and universities for their de-stress days. These days provide the students an opportunity to relax and interact with the dogs thus helping the students to take their minds off upcoming tests, the dogs they left at home and life in general. Our dogs have visited De Sales University, Kutztown University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College.
Our dogs and handlers are popular at Lehigh Valley health conferences and fairs. Research has shown that petting and stroking dogs can help people in many ways: lowering stress levels and blood pressure; taking a person's mind off of personal problems, aches and pains, and worries, even if for a short time; and, acting as an ice breaker in providing an opportunity for people to communicate with others. We have been invited to health and wellness fairs at churches (Trinity Memorial Lutheran), colleges (Cedar Crest College, Reading Area Community College), community centers (Club House of the Lehigh Valley), and businesses (Orasure, Victaulic Company).