Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.
Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc., is another a nonprofit organization that evaluates, tests, trains, qualifies, and supports therapy dogs to be used for loving support in nursing homes, hospitals, psychiatric wards, and in other facilities where such dogs are needed. To train your dog to be a canine therapist, both you and your dog must first pass the Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc., therapy-dog certification analysis given by one of their evaluators. When you pass the test, you are sent a kit containing a registration form signed by a certified evaluator; your ID card and a name badge with your dog's picture stating it is a therapy dog; a 2-million dollar accident and liability insurance policy for coverage while doing therapy work; a bone-shaped ID stating: "I Am a Therapy Dog"; a Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dog leash; an official certificate; and a bumper sticker advising other motorists: “Transporting Therapy Dogs — Please Don't Tailgate.”
This organization encourages you to make your own evaluation to see if you and your dog are suited to this kind of work. The quiz is light-hearted but it helps you determine your dog's suitability. The following is a partial list of the questions you are asked:
1. How does your dog react to rolling shopping carts, roller blades, or skateboards?
A. He calmly watches with curiosity as they move past.
B. The eyes glaze over, the mouth foams, and with curled up lips he barks and growls furiously.
2. How do you and your dog handle the unexpected?
A. Appropriately, just like Lassie.
B. Does Cujo come to mind?
3. How does your dog behave at the vet or groomer?
A. He compliantly agrees to whatever fate awaits him.
B. They meet us at the door with a muzzle.
4. Have you and your dog had any formal training? How about at-home training?
A. Yes, we have been through at least beginners and we still practice at home.
B. We're perfect, we don't need no stinkin' training.
5. Do people cringe at the sight of your dog?
A. No, they smile sweetly and pat him fondly.
B. Is that what they're doing? Oh.
6. Does your dog like children?
A. Yes, he wags his tail and wants to go play — gently. He knows not to jump up and scare little ones.
B. Yes, baked, broiled, or boiled; he doesn't care.
If you score mostly A responses, you and Bowser are ready. If, however, you score even one B response, you should consider a training course before venturing out to do therapy work with your dog.
All kidding aside, pet-therapy visits are important work. As much as medical experts know about caring for the sick, they can still learn more from a little dog whose quiet presence with a patient can lower the blood pressure, get those endorphins flowing, and banish stress and pain.
As the owner of a small dog, you already know all the joy and unconditional love that such endearing creatures can bring into your life, so if your dog is suited for this kind of work, why not share this healing presence with someone less fortunate? Passing along this magical connection is one of the greatest gifts you and your small dog can give.