Pet Therapy: the Ideal Dog
By Sylvie Lamoureux, Zootherapist
Member of the Association des naturopathes professionels du Québec (ANPQ)
Adapted by François G. Cellier
Septembre 2, 2016 – A dog destined to work in pet therapy is a selected animal. It was not trained previously. For me, this was a sine qua non condition. The animal is chosen for its skills and openness to people who need help, in order to improve their living conditions.
Counselling is not only more productive with the presence of a selected dog, it is facilitated. The animal that is listening to someone is usually appreciated. Even more so if it meets its needs without even realizing it; it smells, feels and acts with ease. The magic occurs if the animal is free from coercion, and nothing is required from it. This will result in a great interaction between it and the person concerned.
Dog Breeding : A Better Line
This harmonious atmosphere will make the job easier. Thus, I will be able to apply the intervention plan requested by the special education teacher, social worker or dentist, without any difficulty. I prefer, by far, working with breeding dogs. They usually come from a better line, in addition to being equipped with the qualities necessary for my work.
Knowing the traceability behaviours and skills of an animal are paramount. To track potentially transmitted diseases, from one generation to another, is equally important. This allows me to choose my subjects wisely. When acquiring an animal, I make no concession.
Twenty-Five Years of Expertise
For example, in 2012, I bought my first female Dachshund SS from Élevage Dufailloux. Its owner, Françoise Favier Lafrenière, has been doing this job for 25 years. She is known to maintain a high-level SS Dachshund line. Françoise provided me with the right resources to work well and understand this dog breed. When I decide to have my own range of four legged partners, I will put all the chances on my side.
A year later, in March 2013, I created my own company called Zendach breeding. I work with my young dog partners. I thus refined my skills as emotions sounder. Seeing my puppies grow at home, helps me focus and understand the essence of what they are. Therefore, I built a great relationship with them.
The One and Only Agathe
Moreover, I have an Australian Shepherd aged 10. Its name is Agathe and it is watchful. My puppies do mimicry, when they see it at work with me during a pet therapy session. Agathe is there to show them how to be strong and confident in the middle of my intervention. The first experiment of its kind can be a bit disturbing for young dogs. I can therefore make sure of a replacement, because Agathe will take semi-retirement in a few years or even a full pension. This rest will be well deserved, yet it continues to act Like a big sister and to set an example to others.
For the time being, I will not dwell any longer on the subject, but I will be back in a few weeks with the second part of this chronicle.
See you soon
Photos 1 and 2: Noriko Mineo
Photo 3: Denis Fortin
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