✦ Hello! I am Peanut, a therapy puppy who works with owner and handler Monica Mansour of THERAPuppy. Woof!
I have a very important job i.e. to make little humans happy!
I was born at Ruff n' Roll, a Cavoodle and Poodle breeder, and my puphood was very happy! I had lots of natural spaces to run around and play with my other little brothers and sisters! Then I met the two lovely sisters, Monica and Natalie. And that was the key turning point in my life!
COVID-19 was a terrible time for everyone, Monica came up with the idea of a Therapy Dog business. That was how THERAPuppy came about! They knew that a lot of people needed love, support and healing especially when COVID swept through so many places.
So off to training school I went! I had to do the training online with Brydie Charlesworth from Dog Education Centre in Albury-Wodonga. I passed with flying colours and got certified within two months! Woo-hoo! I think I'm a pretty clever dog, and so are my other Cavoodle and Poodle family!
I'm not the only Therapy Puppy. Other pups have been trained since then (I told them it was fun!) and now I have a few four-legged friends who join me as Therapy Puppies! As Therapy Puppies, we are gifted at showing empathy towards humans. Our job as Therapy Puppies is to provide comfort, companionship and emotional support to humans suffering from mental health, disabilities and also those with severe physical illnesses. We help to ease the emotional burden many humans carry with them. That is why you'll find many us working in places such as hospitals, retirement homes, schools, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, disaster sites and airports.
Learn more about how dogs are helping humans heal here.
I bet you are already smiling when you look at these photos! See... that's our magic. We really do make people smile and feel good!
While Peanut is having a pee-and-poop break, we want to share that our Brilliant Communications Strategist, Joh Ju runs a Cat Group in Singapore doing the same thing! Yes, cats are not to be outdone by their canine peers! Read her story on Love that Heals.
We're also very proud of Vera, the Dogtor-On-Call. Read Vera's story here.
For me, I love working in the schools.
Can you imagine a non-verbal child reading? Or children who didn't read actually start to do so and even love it? That's just one of the magic of therapy dogs. These children LOVE reading to us, and we love listening to them!
I help children, staff and families feel comfortable and confident to participate in an activity. For example, if we go into a classroom and we see a child who looks a little bit anxious, I can calm that child down and help them participate fully in that activity. My friends and I get the child to do their work, read a book, join their friends to do something fun together, or even to walk through the front gate of the school when they separate from their parent or carer. And we also help the child to feel happy, excited and to want to come to school to learn!
Therapy dogs know deep down beneath our fur that all children can learn, if we know how to reach out to them. We never give up on them. I remember a little boy that Monica introduced to me, and Monica had offered him a little book on Peanut and asked if he would like to read it. The boy simply said, "Sure!", and he took the book and started reading. The miracle is, nobody in school had heard him read in the last two years. That's what we have been trained to do as therapy dogs. We simply know how to be there with a little human being, help them feel calm, safe and accepted. And then the miracles simply happen.
We start the morning bright and cheerful!
I love THERAPuppy's “meet and greet” program the most. This is where we meet all students at the front gate as they come into the school each morning. You should just see the joy and excitement every morning! The children can spot us a mile away and they start yelling our names. That makes us all bubbly and it makes our day to see the smiles on their faces. We love it when they pat us and give us a cuddle. This sets up great energy to start the day because the children are joyful, they laugh, they are happy and you know, these vibes can really spread around! They may not say it, but I know that some of the big humans like the teachers are also delighted to see us!
We can really make a difference to a child's morning. I remember there was one particular Friday at a school, as I was walking into the office, there was a child there who was almost hyperventilating from crying so much. All the big humans there tried to console the child but they really couldn't do anything. The child was really deeply upset. As a trained therapy dog, I knew just what to do! I walked right up to him and put my paws on his knees. Two seconds later (yes, that's how good I am!), the child was giggling and it did not take long after to walk the child back to class. What can I say? The proof is in the pudding!!
Our Therapy Dog Training
We take our job very seriously. Our handler, Monica Mansour knows that well!
"It can take between 3-6 months to fully train a dog. There is a lot of the training that you also need to do on your own. We trained our dogs through Brydie Charlesworth from the Dog Education Centre. Brydie has a full training program that you can register for. We follow their videos and their training regularly. At the very beginning each day it is just 2-3 very short sessions. It keeps their attention and doesn't tire the dogs out. What's key is to use very high rewarding “treats”. Our dogs are very food orientated, and you can get them to do anything with those treats! Once this training is done, then the dogs can get certified. Therapy dogs must get certified each year."
Ok so yes, Monica has found out our weak spot! We are foodies! We just love treats! And you can see also that we are bona fide professionals - we get certified each year to make sure we are kept fresh in our skills.
THERAPuppy dogs have contracts too!
At the end of each year, THERAPuppy sets up business contracts for the next year. What this means is, schools can rely on us with these contracts to provide regular, consistent visits. THERAPuppy does not rely on volunteers and there is an amazing team behind the scenes to ensure we pups get to each location when we are needed. Our visits can last anything from an hour and a half to three hours per week. Our sessions can be weekly, fortnightly, or multiple sessions per week as well.
"What schools love about us is the flexibility. Our pups work well with different children. Many times, we are called through the school’s PA system so you'll hear, “Can THERAPuppy come to the office please?” You just never know when a child could be having a moment of anxiety and need a bit of support. We have a schedule to follow, but whenever possible, we are always happy to help whoever needs it when we are at the school," explains Monica.
Monica is a really jolly human (you can tell from her sunny smile!) and I love helping people. We're very caring and we love making every person we meet happy! Keep an eye out for us! We might be all over Australia soon!
Get a Therapy Dog for your school
0404 449 950
Specialist in Cavoodles and Poodles
Ruff n' Roll
0459 094 081
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