Bosco working at CHOP
How Bosco Became a Therapy Dog
Ever since my dog, Bosco, was a puppy I wanted to socialize him as much as I could in a lot of different environments so I could take him just about anywhere. We would go to different local events where I knew there would be people, kids and other dogs. About five years ago I took him to a walk benefitting cystic fibrosis in honor of a good friend of mine whose sister had passed away from the disease. After the walk was over, we were gathered around an area where there were a lot of children playing. All of a sudden, the kids came running up to Bosco, petting him and asking questions, giving him hugs and tugging on his fluffy fur. Bosco didn’t seem to be bothered by it one bit. It actually looked like he liked all the attention!
It didn’t even occur to me that he could be a therapy dog until after I told the story about the kids to my sister, who happens to work at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She suggested the idea of Bosco becoming a therapy dog. I had never really thought about it before and decided to do some research into how to get Bosco registered as a therapy dog. The process was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be.
I contacted Therapy Dogs International, which is a volunteer organization dedicated to testing, regulating and registration therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers. Bosco had to pass a test reflecting real-life situations designed to simulate a therapy dog visit at a nursing home, hospital or facility where a therapy dog would be needed.
Bosco the happy therapy dog
We went on a designated date and time to take the test which consisted of Bosco following some commands: sit, down, stay. After that, he was tested for his temperament and behavior. These tests involved his reactions to different situations including: how he reacted when someone approached him and walked by him, someone in a wheelchair coming up to him, seeing another dog, and loud sounds – which all didn’t seem to bother him one bit. He passed the test on the first try! He also had to do a similar test at Penn Veterinary Hospital. They conduct yearly checkups as part of CHOP’s protocol to be a therapy dog in their pet therapy program.
Once I got my human clearances, we were off to start our visits. In a nutshell, it consists of Bosco and I visiting designated floors at CHOP and going to each hospital room and seeing if anyone would like a visit. That could be the child, the parents, visitors or even the nurses or doctors! We go into the room and say hello. I try to get Bosco as close as I can so the child can see Bosco up close and pet him. Bosco has such a laid-back personality. He seems to really love all the attention and petting that he gets, and sometimes he even gives his paw to those who ask for it!
It’s truly a wonderful experience being a volunteer. Sharing my dog with those who don’t get the chance to leave the hospital for any length of time is really rewarding – not only for me, but for Bosco, too! Bosco and I have been doing therapy work for three years now. He knows it’s time to go to work when I put his blue bandana on. He has gotten the routine down so well that after we sign in at the volunteer center at CHOP, he’s already heading to the door to get on the elevator and start doing what he does best – bringing smiles and joy to all those around him!
Lauren Buchak – Bosco’s Owner and GVH Client
At some point every dog owner returns home to the unexpected mangled item on the floor. If you google destructive puppies or dogs there is enough evidence to indicate that chewing is a common problem that almost every owner deals with. Some dog breeds are more prone to chew that other dog breeds. The top five dog breeds that love to chew are: Jack Russell Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles.
As a Labrador retriever owner, I [Practice Manager, Tiffany] can vouch for why this breed has made the list. My Maggie has found herself chewing on the heels of my new shoes, makeup, Chap Stick and lotion. Jill and Paige two of our Veterinarian Assistants, have dog breeds that made the list. They have also come home to destroyed pillows, blankets, woodwork, shoes and many other household items.
Before you can tackle the problem, it is important to understand why your dog or puppy is chewing in the first place.
A few reasons why your puppy may be chewing:
- Puppies like children go through a teething phase. As their teeth come in their gums will be sore and chewing on something helps to relieve the pain.
- Puppies are also curious in nature as they explore their new surroundings. It is difficult for them not to put things into their mouth.
A few reasons why your adult dog may be chewing:
- Your dog may have never been taught what items were appropriate for them to chew on and what items were not appropriate.
- Your dog may just be bored. Lack of exercise causes them to find something to entertain themselves with and it might just be your shoes.
- Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Talk to your veterinarian if you think that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety.
- Your dog may be chewing out of fear or because they are seeking attention.
Check out our next post that gives tips to combat this common problem:
Teach Your Dog Not to Chew
Let’s look at some techniques that will help guide you as you teach your dog not to chew. First, let’s get into the right mind set. It is important to think about rewarding your pet for their good behavior instead of punishing them when they chew. Just as you would child proof your home for the arrival of a new baby, you should puppy proof your home for your new puppy.
If you are bringing a new puppy or dog home select a variety of toys made with different material and textures until you know what toys your new pet prefers. Rotate the toys so they are seeing something new every couple of weeks. This can be an easy way to keep them entertained.
You may have the best toys and have done a great job of rotating them to prevent boredom and still find your pet chewing on items around the house. Check the items that you find them chewing on and remove any toys that resemble that item. Your pet may confuse what they can chew on and what they cannot.
While your pet is getting use to their new surroundings you may want to consider a crate. A crate can be a safe place for your pet to sleep and chew on their own special toys or treats. When you are home to supervise your pet attach a leash to your pet. This can serve two purposes if a leash is new for your pet this helps them get use to wearing a leash. It also acts as a handle for you to easily grab when your pet needs to be redirected.
If you find that your pet is destroying items only when you are away from home, they may need additional exercise to burn off excess energy. Get your pet on a routine and take them for a long walk in the morning or before you leave the house. You can also save a special toy like a Kong filled with their favorite treat that they only receive when you are leaving. If you are unable to correct the behavior their separation anxiety may need to be discussed with your veterinarian.