In 1995, the Therapy Dog group consisted of nine members going
out an average of twice a month. This number has grown to 61 members,
with about 20 active members. The schedule has increased to 3-4 times a
week, including one night. Most of the dogs have been trained at the
Berks County Dog Training Club.
In order to be tested for the therapy dog group, the dog must be
1 year old, up-to-date with shots, free of any wounds, rashes, ticks or fleas. The dog
must be able to approach strangers in a friendly manner, keep its feet on the floor and be
comfortable around other dogs.
The testing process involves evaluation of both dog and handler.
The tester will be looking for positive reinforcement, encouragement, and enjoyment of the
interaction between dog and patients, etc. Both the handler and the dog should be well
groomed, neat and clean. The handler should be appropriately dressed and using language
indicative of the surroundings.
After a minimum of four observations in facilities, the tester
will inform the handler whether or not he or she has met the necessary elements. Upon
completion of the paperwork necessitated by Therapy Dogs Inc., the team becomes eligible
to attend all therapy dog sessions with the group or do solo visits with permission of the
The therapy dogs have also taken on regular visitation to Reading
Hospital, a program called Paws for Wellness. Paws took off in 2004 and we currently have 16 Handlers and approximately 24 dogs involved in this program.
Courtesy of Marge Stiller
Therapy Dogs from left are Ebony, Solomon, Bobby,
Sabrina and Maisie. They are being given treats by Darrell Belz while
handlers Doris Lambert and Pat Mock look on.
Therapy dogs do many tasks including
visiting with students from Albright and Kutztown during finals in the
winter and spring.