The Paw Street Journal
by Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc.
News From the World of Therapy Dogs                                  January 19, 2010
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In This Issue
Raising a Future Therapy Dog
Meet Our Mascot-Georgia
Dear Georgia
About Us

Canine Assisted Therapy is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization and is supported by membership, grants and donations. Please help us to continue our service to those in need by donating generously today.

Thank you!

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Anna and Cosmo
Animal-Assisted Intervention in the Classroom

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Meet Hope - C.A.T. Dog in Training
Volunteer Tip

To respect a patient's privacy and wishes, be sure to knock and ask permission to enter a patient's room before you let your dog cross the door threshold. This means you need to keep your dog under control and right next to you. He or she should not enter a doorway until you give him a command to do so.
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TopRaising A Future Therapy Dog and
A Great Companion
Anna and Cosmo
by Lisa Hartman, Pawsitively Pets!
Want to have a friendly, confident, tail waggin' companion?  We all do!  Well most great canine companions and therapy dogs are not born, they are made.  Setting a dog up to successfully live in a human filled world is critical to the dogs' future and well being.  Below, I share a few tips to getting your dog off on the right paw!

By far, the single most important aspect of a dog's upbringing is socialization.  Socialization is the gentle exposure process to new stimuli-people, animals, places, sights and sounds.   A puppy needs to meet many friendly children, many friendly men, etc.  It is believed the socialization window closes at sixteen weeks of age for most dogs, and even younger for guarding breeds, so the clock is ticking to get your dog out into the world.  Make it fun and take your dog out often to experience new places, sights and sounds.

We want dogs to have good, or positive associations with people and the world at large. One of the easiest ways to attain this is to use something the dog loves, and most dogs love food!  Let children toss your puppy treats. Ask strangers to hand feed your dog.  Bring treats or a favorite toy to the Vets' office and ask the staff to feed or play with your dog. Using a tool as highly valued as food could be the difference from your dog merely tolerating strangers to loving meeting them, as a wonderful association is being made.

Handle your puppy often and play "A Touch for a Treat."  Touch your dogs' ear, treat.  Look in his ear, treat.  Touch his tail, feel his belly treat...You get the idea.  Pass the puppy to your friend to do the same.

Enroll your puppy or dog in a reward based, positive dog training or puppy class.

By far, the easiest way to teach proper behavior or to get rid of unwanted behavior is with positive reinforcement.  Stay away from choke chains, prong collars, shock, and other harsh punishment as it can create fear, anxiety, aggression, and certainly bad associations with people and learning in general.  Even scared adult rescued dogs may become the most friendly, enthusiastic canines with positive reinforcement and associations.  (Note: if your dog is already fearful or aggressive, seek help from a qualified professional immediately.)

Teach your dog to be "Sit Happy".   Certainly a good canine citizen or future therapy dog cannot jump on people.  Practice and ask your dog for sits everywhere; at home, on walks, before entering the dog park, etc.  Most importantly, teach your dog he must have his rear end on the ground to meet people.  In no time he will learn that sitting is a polite way to get what he wants, and he will sit more often.

With a little proactive work on your part you can ensure your dog has the best chance possible of being a super canine companion and therapy dog!

Lisa Hartman is head dog trainer for Pawsitively Pets! You can reach her at 

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Meet Georgia
Georgia Full Size and Trimmed
Hi! My name is Georgia and I am a Canine Assisted Therapy Dog, a.k.a. C.A.T. Dog.

My human sister, Sarah Meile, created me by drawing me on a sketch pad.  I was named after a wonderful woman named Georgia Imhoff.  I was named Georgia because of what she stood for and meant to everyone.  My creators want me to be just like Georgia.

Being like Georgia means that I am a volunteer.  Being a volunteer means that I do things for people to make them feel loved and happy. Being a good volunteer, just like Georgia, means that I give love unconditionally to anyone who is in need of what I have to give.  Being a dog, it's easy for me to give my love unconditionally.   It's easy to let people pet me because it makes them feel better.  I like listening to stories that children read to me too.  I love being a volunteer!  

I am happy that my name is Georgia and I hope I can be just like her.  I want to help everyone that is a part of C.A.T. Dogs to be just like her too.   Every year, C.A.T. Dogs will give an award called the Georgia Award to a volunteer that is just like me and just like my namesake, Georgia.  It will be a doggy black-tie where all my friends and I get to wear fancy collars and eat lots of cookies.  I can hardly wait to put on a beautiful collar and mingle with my C.A.T. Dog friends!

I have lots of experience being a C.A.T. Dog volunteer.  I can help you be a good volunteer and a good C.A.T. Dog volunteer too.  Send me an email with your questions, and I will do my best to answer them.  Together, we can be just like my namesake, Georgia, and be the best volunteers ever!

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Dear Georgia: Being the Best We Can Be
Anna and Cosmo
Dear Georgia:
My dog and I visit the same facility each week. How can I make the most of my visits? - Trying to be the best we can be.

Dear Motivated Mutt: Much of keeping your visits interesting depends on the type of facility that you are visiting.  Visiting a nursing home or assisted living facility can be made more exciting for the patients and resident by bringing photos to show them, specifically photos of your dog.  Photos of the dog as a puppy may bring fond memories to the patient and create great conversation.  C.A.T. has bookmarks that they are happy to supply to you.  Even though it's small, giving the patients a bookmark is a wonderful way to show them that you care and may initiate talking about books that they have read or intend to read.

If you are visiting a children's facility or medical center, try to go on a day of the week when they have the most appointments.  If there aren't a lot of children, grab a book and try to get the child or children to read with you or better yet, get them to read to your dog.  Some children will love to "walk" your dog.  If the dog is up for it, and with the parent's permission, let the child hold the center of the leash while you continue to hold the very end, and let them walk the dog up a hallway or around the waiting room.  Children love to see photos especially of puppies.  Keeping a little photo book with pictures of your dog will almost always be of interest to children.  Don't forget to have your dog perform little tricks for everyone.  There is nothing like the smiles that you see when your dog does something entertaining.  

Don't forget about the staff! The stresses of caring for patients everyday can easily be relieved by the simple act of petting your dog.  This not only benefits the staff members, but having them walk away from your dog with a smile, they take that smile directly to the patients.

All these things may not seem like much to you as a volunteer, but remember, you may be the only person that visits these people for the entire week.  Don't under estimate the joy that you bring to them simply by being there and saying "hello". - Georgia

Email your questions to

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