Students that are having ruff days, give a round of A-Paws. The Office of Student Services hired the “Top Dog Therapy Team” to come to campus every other Tuesday for the rest of the semester with their dogs in tow.
“The Top Dog Therapy Team” Youngwood location is a non-profit organization that trains therapy dogs and brings them around the area. According to owner Rodney Little, not all dogs are fit for the role.
“The perfect therapy dog for the “Top Dog Therapy Team” has to have the right temperament,” Little said. “We put each handler and dog through a 30-point temperament test.”
It takes more than a temperament test for dogs to graduate, however. The dogs go through training that takes about eight months. Not every dog makes it through.
“Our average number of people that graduate [from] this program … through all levels of training is about 50%,” Little said.
Once a dog graduates, the “Top Dog Therapy Team” exposes the dogs in a controlled setting to discover their strengths and weaknesses in different situations. This is how they decide which dogs go where.
“Some of our dogs end up excelling in all areas and work within all four branches of our team,” Little said.
The therapy dogs will be in the Fireside Lounge from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on March 1, 15, and 29, as well as April 12 and 26.
Meet the dogs!
Blossom is a 4-year-old standard Sheepadoodle, although she is on the smaller side of the standard. She believes she is a lap dog and can often be found sprawled across her human mama’s lap. She graduated from the therapy dog program in Aug. 2019. Her favorite things include romping with her four-legged sister and with the grandchildren, as well as being engaged with kids of all ages during therapy outings. Her favorite playtime activity is fetch and keep away.
Finley is a 16-month-old Wheaten Terrier. He’s a really chill guy who loves attention, making him a great therapy dog. Schools are Finley’s favorite place to visit because he especially loves kids. He has two kids at home who he snuggles with on the couch.
Wally is a beagle and basset hound mix, also known as a bagel hound. He was rescued three years ago from a shelter in West Virginia and loves the spoiled “Inside Dog” life. He spends his free time napping, playing with his two canine sisters, and “helping” his mom and dad around the house by overseeing all meal preparation and food consumption, and “vacuuming” any dropped food morsels so they don’t ruin the carpet.