Therapy Dogs International

Many people ask me, when Tris is doing her visits, how we got certified to be a therapy dog team. Well, we did some research and chose the organization called Therapy Dogs International (TDI). They list the tests the dog will need to pass on their website, and you can choose to get trained at a center, or do it yourself. We tried the do it yourself training. Once you feel prepared you can go to a training center, on the scheduled day, and take the test.

The TDI Test is divided into two phases and has 13 individual tests and additional exercises within each test. Here are some of the phase 1 tests:

Phase I

The dog must wear either a flat buckle or snap-in collar (non corrective) or a harness (non-corrective), all testing must be on a 6ft leash.*

TEST 1: TDI ENTRY TABLE (Simulated as a Hospital Reception Desk)
The dog/handler teams are lined up to be checked in (simu- lating a visit). The evaluator (“volunteer coordinator”) will go down the line of registrants and greet each new arrival including each dog. At the same time the collars will be checked, as well as nails, ears and grooming and lifting of all 4 paws and tail, which must be lifted if applicable. If the dog has a short cropped tail it should be touched.

TEST 2: CHECK-IN AND OUT OF SIGHT (time: One Minute)
The handler will be asked to check in. After the check-in has been completed the handler will be escorted by a helper to where the handler is supposed to sit. All dogs will be placed in a down position on the handler’s left side keeping teams at least 8 feet apart. Now the handler will start completing the paperwork. Once all teams have been placed, the helper(s) will ask the handler(s) if they can hold their dogs. Now the handler(s) will leave for “one minute”. The handler(s) can give the “stay” command verbally or by hand signal or both. The helper(s) can talk to and pet the dog(s). The dog(s) can sit, lie down, stand or walk around within the confines of the leash.


As the dog/handler team walks toward the patients’ rooms, there will be various people standing around. Some of the people will try visiting with the dog. The dog/handler team must demonstrate that the dog can withstand the approach and touching by several people from all sides at the same time and is willing to visit and walk around a group of peo- ple.


The evaluator will ask all the participants to line up with their dogs in a heel position (w/dog on left or right), with 8 ft. between each team. Now the handlers will put their dogs in a sit/stay position. The handlers will give the sit command to the dogs. The evaluator will tell the handlers to leave their

*If the dog is on a longer leash, a knot must be made in the leash to mark 6 ft. The handler must drop the extra leash.

dogs. The handlers will step out to the end of their 6 ft. leash, turn around and face the dog(s) and wait for the evaluator’s command to return to their dog(s). (The evaluator will give the return command immediately).


Same as test number 4, except dogs will now be in a down/ stay.


All handlers will be seated. Three dogs at a time will be fitted with a long line. The reason we fit more than one dog with a long line at the same time is to save time. The handler will continue to hold the 6 ft leash while the long line is fitted by a helper. To avoid any kind of incident, the evaluator will make sure that the handler is holding the 6 ft leash until the dog has been placed and is ready to be tested for the recall. One handler at a time will take the dog to a designated area which is out of reach of the other dogs even with a 20 ft. line. The evaluator will then give the command: Down your dog!. The handler can down the dog either by voice and or by hand signal. The evaluator will give the command: Leave your dog!. The handler will tell the dog to stay either by voice and or by hand signal. The handler now will turn away from the dog and walk in a straight line to the end of the 20 ft. lead. The handler will turn and face the dog. The evaluator imme- diately will tell the handler to call the dog. The handler will call the dog, either by voice, hand signal or both.


The dog should show willingness to visit a person and dem- onstrate that it can be made readily accessible for petting (i.e. small dogs will be placed on a person’s lap or held; medium dogs will sit on a chair or stand close to the patient to be eas- ily reached, and larger dogs will be standing).


Once you pass you receive a kit, a bandana, an ID, and some paperwork that you will need to take along to your visits. Then you can jump right in. We chose our sites, but you can also accept invitations to people’s homes or locations that are requesting a dog team. We have nearly 50 visits acrued so far and look forward to having many many more in the future.

Therapy Dogs Intl Logo.png

2 Down 448 To Go!

Venturing out on College pond today was wonderful. It is just one of Plymouth’s 450 ponds! Located in the Miles Standish State Forest, this pond really gives you the feel of being on a lake in NH, ME, or VT.

We had the lake to ourselves, and as we paddled around the shore I admired all the camps and cottages, and secretly pined for having one to myself. The water was very clean and crisp, and near the shore it was very clear. We even got to see a turtle leap off a rock and swim away; Tris found this especially amazing. She later went out onto the mini rock island to try to find her new shelled friend to no avail.

Definitely worth a paddle, and maybe even a picnic lunch under the trees on the beach!

Go Bananas? Don’t Mind If We Do!

Located off exit 8 in Kingston “Go Bananas” is an Army and Navy store that sells all sorts of amazing outdoor gear. Our mission: find kayak paddle clips/rings. Once inside, we had to stop along the way and greet all of the lovely employees. Soon after that we found our clips and were at the checkout for some more dog cuddles. This store was super dog friendly, and we even met another pooch shopper while we were there. Definitely coming back here for all my future outdoor supply needs.



Plymouth Waterfront Festival 2017

Did you happen to know that this years Waterfront Festival also fell on National Dog Day? And boy could you tell. There were quite a few dog related booths, and many many four legged shoppers walking around the festival. There were multiple free goodie bags being handed out all day. The food truck strip was Tris’s favorite, smelling all the grills and griddles roasting… she was in heaven. Since we got there fairly early we also got a prime spot at Plymouth Rock for a photo op!

We will definitely be back next year.

Canine Kayak Training 101

This summer I bought a truck, which then lead to a kayak rack for my Old Town Dirigo 120. So of course then next step would be dog training. Tris had never been “on” the water just in it, so I knew it might be tricky to get her to trust the kayak to keep her afloat. So before our first day out in August, I dumped some biscuits into the cockpit and let her figure out how to get to them. She craned her neck, timidly stuck in a paw, and before you knew it she was in, and quickly out, with a biscuit in her mouth. She hoped around like a kangaroo grabbing them all and I continued to praise her bravery. The next time I sat in the kayak; still in the garage. I put the biscuits in the bottom of the cockpit again and coaxed her into my lap. Luckily the Dirigo 120 has a long enough deck that she can fit in-between my legs in a sit position with plenty of room. We did the sitting for a few minutes with me feeding and praising her. Finally I knew the kayak might rock when I did a deep dip with my paddles, so I got her into the kayak, in a sit, and hugged her with my knees as I purposefully tipped it side to side. She wanted none of it at first, however with treats present she found a way to endure.


The big day had finally arrived. I had packed and secured everything the night before, and around 6:30 we headed for Hedges Pond. It was completely deserted. Which was perfect. If she capsized us I really didn’t want an audience. Once in the shallows I stepped into the cockpit first, and tapped the edge for her jump in. She jumped alright, but behind me on top of the deck hatch. She had great balance, I really was impressed, but it wasn’t the safest way to head out onto the water. So back down into the water she went, then I hauled her in, got her seated, and we were off. She figured it out almost immediately, and began to just enjoy watching the ripples in the water, and peering down into the depths. Eventually we were out in the center of the pond and I just idled. It was glassy, slightly foggy, and the sound of birds was everywhere. She loved watching it all. The sun was rising as we headed back to the shore. After a quick hyper run around the beach we were on our way home, passing a couple more (land) dogs along the way.

It was a great first trip with the greatest dog on the planet.


Picking Out Our Toyota Truck!

When you buy a car you think about your lifestyle and go from there. Well my dog is a huge part of my lifestyle. We needed something hardy and tough. Also, after moving to Plymouth, I realized with all the house projects, dump runs, and buying new appliances, a truck would really come in handy. Finally, being in an area with fairly heavy snowfall I knew having four wheel drive would be a very good idea.

Going from a Prius to a Tacoma was a big adjustment, so the day I picked up the truck I brought my dog to to the dealership with me for support. All of the employees were eager to give her a pat, and compliment her ability to sit in chairs. She really made the whole process more fun for everyone involved.

Of course we have been back for scheduled maintenance since then, and waiting in the waiting area with my dog has always been a pleasure. She is a great conversation starter, and tends get a majority of employees over for a quick pat as they pass through the hallway on their daily business.

So if you want your dog to be a part of your car buying purchase, Sullivan Brothers Toyota in Kingston is a great choice (



Looking for an event that your dog can attend? Well Paw Palooza Cape Cod is held at the Dennis-Yarmouth High School, and for just $5.00 you can have an entire day of fun. You can find booths belonging to organizations, food companies, dog toy manufacturers, collections of collars and leashes, and gifts galore. This year Blue Buffalo even handed out free handkerchiefs for their dog guests to wear!

Bring yourself some sunblock but don’t worry about your dogs overheating, they have a row of cooling tents that spray a gentle mist for the dogs. Another neat event was the local police dogs in action showing us their tactical skills; and to see the dock dogs competition (featured below). Definitely worth checking out for the weekend next year. Check back for future dates:

Black Tie Attire and Four Legged Friends

Back in April the Planet Dog Company held a special event in Portland ME. The event was a “Dog Ball” which helped raise thousands of dollars for two amazing non profit organizations: K9’s on the Front Line ( and America’s Vet Dogs (

Held at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, this event was super classy, served amazing food, and even had dog toys in the floral centerpieces that we could take with us after the festivities. There were silent auctions, live auctions, and guest speakers who really pulled at your heart strings. Each guest also received a glow in the dark planet dog toy with the event name on it. You could even walk the red carpet and take home a professional photo with your dog before dinner began. It was a lovely night of fine dining and chatting with fellow dog aficionados. We even stayed at the dog friendly Westin Portland Harborview hotel, which offered dog beds for their four legged guests.

Definitely hoping to go back, however, since this was the inaugural event we will have to wait and see if it will happen again next April. Fingers crossed!

Prepping for Adventures

Getting my kayak clean up and ready to roll was only the first step for the summer. Some training was involved with my dog to get her used to sitting inside of it. At first she was timid and nervous, however, after hauling a few biscuits into the cockpit she was able to overcome her fears and stand inside. Next up is a trip to Billington Sea Kayak in Plymouth for a new paddle. Finally, we will try out Big Sandy Pond for our first attempt at kayaking. Both of us will be outfitted with lifejackets, just in case, and I’m hoping to have a nice dry maiden voyage. IMG_3278