Therapy Dogs International, Inc. or TDI, Inc. was founded by an RN working in England. Her name is Elaine Smith. Therapy Dogs visit nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities or institutions basically to provide "emotional support."
You need to complete basic obedience and the dog has to be pretty versatile because they are exposed to wheels chairs, crutches, walkers, canes, etc. and they may get a hug or hugs by various folks. Some folks teach their dogs to do tricks. TDI has good guidelines:
- Dogs must have a current rabies certificate and distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, para-influenza and parvovirus inoculation.
- A yearly physical and stool check.
- Dogs must be kept on leashes at all times when in an institution except when doing certain obedience exercises.
- To wear the yellow TDI ID tag when working as a therapy dog.
- Dogs must have passed a Canine Good Citizen Test with TDI modifications.
- Dogs must be at least one year of age.
- Annual heartworm test.
- Female dogs must not be in estrus when participating in therapy work.
- Be well groomed.
- Therapy Dogs, when in public, may wear a red leather or nylon harness with the TDI patch on top as a visible sign they are a Therapy Dog.
There is an extensive amount of information about TDI and various organizations like them. Start with: http://www.tdi-dog.org
There is quite an interesting write up and you can keep going on and on finding all types of information. Even the definitions of "service dogs" and "therapy dogs. It's good reading. Try it.
And if you can't get the info on the Internet, write:
88 Bartley Road,
Flanders, NJ 07836
or E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org