Saturday morning, I took THE animal therapy exam and I passed! My tail is wagging! HM was a bit nervous but I liked it. There were lots of people waiting in line to pet me. I had to perform 20 different tasks ranging from basic commands to walking through a crowd with obstacles. And again, there was food on the floor that I was supposed to ignore. Such a waste. At least at the end, I got a big treat. AND I now have my own badge saying that I am a therapy animal. Me Benji, the shelter dog! They said that I was the youngest in my group who passed the test. BTW, I chose to wear my Ruffwear harness; it seems to be my lucky charm. Since I wore it during the exam, I will wear it on every visit, so it will be my new uniform.
After the test, we celebrated the occasion with, you guessed it, more treats. Now it is up to HM to do some shadow visits to test the waters and see what sort of facility works best for us as a team. We can choose from a long list of assisted living facilities, senior centers, youth centers, a hospital, libraries, and even a courthouse. Once we know what type of setting we like, we can try a short visit to one of these facilities together. But first, I will take a well-deserved nap.
This week, we had a mock exam to practice for the real animal therapy exam. I tried my new Sense-ation harness (photo on the right). The jury is still out on whether I will use my Ruffwear front range harness or the new one during the real exam. I always feel proud when I wear the Ruffwear harness. It’s very comfortable and I have worn it since I was first allowed to go on big trips. Besides, the trainer told me that I look smart with the Ruffwear harness. On the other hand, the new harness is supposed to help me be more responsive. To be honest, I did not know that there was a problem. OK, sometimes I am a tad bit enthusiastic. But hey, there are so many fun things to explore in the real world.
For the first part of the exam, I had to stand still to be petted and examined. That was tough, especially when HM made the mistake of dangling a treat in front of me. I thought we could play, but not this time, she said. The exercise “leave it” was easy. All I had to do was walk past a bowl with food, without touching it. Just in case, I was keeping an eye on the food (you would too). The exam also included a part where I was petted by a crowd of people. All I saw were legs and lots of hands reaching down for me. That was a bit confusing; I looked up but could not figure out which hands and legs belonged to who. They need to number those things. In the end, the mock exam was rewarding; I got lots of treats and even applause. Maybe I will bow next time.