Permian Basin dogs are taking on the task of brightening someones day by becoming a therapy dog.
The Lone Star K-9 Academy is offering a 5 week training program for ‘Therapy Dog International (TDI)’ training.
Once a week, dogs and their owners work on commands, tasks and get educated about being a therapy dog.
At the end of five weeks, each dog takes a test and must complete 14 different commands. If they pass, they get their certification and can work in nursing homes and hospitals.
Mary Jankowski has been training dogs for years and she feels West Texas is lacking in therapy dogs.
She feels trained dogs that visit the nursing homes make a large impact of patients lives and shes working to get more certified dogs in the Basin.
” We worked specifically on take it and leave it, which means they have to leave whatever we tell them to leave and tha’ts so important when your at a hospital or nursing home, that is someone should drop pills or medication and your dogs going to scarf it up because they think its a treat,” says Jankowski.
Along with learning commands, the dogs in training were exposed to medical gear, such as wheelchairs, crutches and walkers.
This allows them to be more comfortable in a setting where they must perform a job.
“They see a walker and they see this big shiny thing that’s eating a human and it frightens them. So we are teaching them in a safe environment that these things are all okay,” says Jankowski.
Jankowski finds joy in teaching dogs as well as educating owners,but its what motivated her to start, that keeps her going.
“My mother in law is in the nursing home with alzheimer’s and Harley is very important in her life because she doesn’t relate to us very much but she will talk and relate to Harley,” says Jankowski.
Jankowski saying Harley allows her mother in-law to have clear thoughts and communicate with her.
It seemed like the training room was full of stories just like Jankowski’s.
Each owner had a motivation that lead them to the class.
“Not too long ago, I was sick and my dogs really helped me,” says Allison Tuttle, class participant.
Tuttle saying not everyone has a furry friend that can help them through a tough situation and she wants to give back by sharing her puppies love.
“My mom is a cancer patient and with Nicole going through her therapy really helped my mom,” says Suzie Newsom, class participant.
“My grandparents were in assisted living and I would sneak my dog in to visit my grandpa and it kind of went from there,” says Ingrid Austin, class participant.
Ingrid and her dog make weekly trips to the nursing home or hospital. Showing tricks, getting treats and bringing a moment of relief to someone who needs it.
“We would also go see people in the waiting room. It can be a long day when your sitting there not knowing where your family member is or friend is so getting a visit from a therapy dog kind of breaks up the monotony of just sitting and waiting,” says Austin.
Debbie Mcfarlane along with her dog, Remy, form what she calls ‘the certified therapy dog team.’
Mcfarlane says shes the sidekick the Remy, her job is to make sure he’s safe but he does the heavy lifting.
“Oh he loves it, in fact he pulls me-hes not supposed to be pulling, hes supposed to be healing but oh no im stretched way out because hes anxious to get to work,” says Mcfarlane.
For more information you can visit the Lone Star K-9 Academy on Facebook.