Thursday, November 19, 2009

Animal Assisted Therapy-4H Group Lesson

The 4H Vet Science programs has 10 group lessons per year and 10 individual lessons. Yesterday was the group lesson on Animal Assisted Therapy. For this lesson a woman came in with her guide dog in training. We learned that this woman has been training guide dogs since she was 9.

We also learned that a candidate must be at least 17 to receive a guide dog and the candidate only pays $1. That dollar gives them full ownership of the dog! The dogs can only work for about 10 years before they must retire. I guess since dogs years are approximately a multiple of 7, that sounds about right. :)

The dog that we got to meet is named Ziva. Ziva is a black lab and is very playful and sweet. Given the command "find the girls", Ziva can locate the women's restroom. She has been known to insist that the water fountain is the restroom, but she is still learning and doing quite well.

Around May or June of next year, Ziva will go on to school with a professional trainer to learn the other necessary skills of possible leading a blind person. If she passes with flying colors, she will then be placed with someone based on need and temperament. If she fails, there are a few other jobs she may be able to qualify for, or some will get her as a pet.

We learned that one dog is being trained to detect high and low blood sugar levels from the smell of the saliva of his caregiver. Wow, who knew??

1 comment:

  1. We have an extended family member that uses a guide dog, and it has been interesting to learn about how they have to care for their dog as well. Can't have a bad mannered smelly dog in public! They also look at the personality of the dog and the perspective owner before they place a dog. Then they train for several weeks with the trainer...all such an interesting process.


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