Walters's and Hilda's Therapy Work
The weekly visits are enjoyed by both residents and
Walter is a 257 lb teddy bear who loves the attention.
Hilda, although still a rambunctious youngster,
senses to be calm and patient when at "work".
Walter has been invited to participates in the R.E.A.D.
It helps school children with reading disabilities.
Auri & Mike, their owners, have done an outstanding job of
training them both.
Their weekly dedication to this service is commendable!
Good thing I'm part of the R.E.A.D. program...
The ingredients in here look good to me dad!
That was hard work
Our beloved Mastiffs Walter and Hilda must be the biggest dogs in North Vancouver with combined weight of over 450 lbs. Despite their gigantic size, they are very friendly, docile and fully trained for obedience. As a working breed, we knew they’d love to be working but we wanted to make sure they had the right temperament for the job first. This is how we started their journey into becoming certified therapy dogs.
We started by testing and certifying our Mastiffs with the Canadian Kennel Club for their Canine Good Neighbour, the American Kennel Club for their Canine Good Citizen, and B.C. Pets & Friends. From there we were able to commit to weekly visits to group homes (see link below to the video) as visitation team.
We knew our dogs had the temperament to have therapeutic contact with the elderly and the disabled in hospitals, nursing home facilities, schools and pre-schools so in order to move toward, we had help from a good friend who has several therapy dogs, including Mastiffs. She helped us through all the steps to become a therapy team. We had Walter, Hilda and ourselves tested, certified and registered with Therapy Dogs Incorporated (TDInc). Now we are happy to join her in visits to extended care facilities in Langley, B.C., and our Mastiffs became good friends too!
Soon after, we were invited to participate in the READ program (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), where registered therapy animals who have been trained and tested for health, safety, skills and temperament volunteer with their owners as “pet partner” teams offering children an irresistible opportunity to improve their reading in a setting proven to be effective, motivating and fun. Again, we had to test, train and certify and register our dogs through the Intermountain Therapy Animals to be able to became a READ team.
Being a member of the Paws-4-Reading team in North Vancouver was the best gift we could have ever received. It is amazing how your pet can affect so many kids in such a positive way. Thanks to the students request to read with Walter’s sister, we are now training Hilda to start with the kids next semester.
We spend over eight hours a week volunteering with our Mastiffs, between group homes, long term care facilities, and schools. It is all so worth it, as we get such joy of sharing out pets. Although the “therapy dogs” designation recognizes the therapeutic benefit they provide to the general public, we feel it goes beyond that. Sometimes we ask ourselves who is getting the most out of this therapy work? Bringing smiles and happiness for those in need can be the most gratifying experience one can have in life and its effects will continue for a lifetime.
If you want more information about how to become a visitation team, a certified therapy team, or about the READ program please visit:
Evan & Cheryl Compton