I have wondered about this for some time now. I have heard so much…incorrect information about Therapy Dogs and their certification. It is even more confusing as there are so many supposed therapy dog training organizations out there and the laws governing them are different in each state. I decided to get the skinny and be done with it. I suspected money was involved somewhere particularly since there does not seem to be a medical billing code for therapy dogs.
This next part will make me some enemies or rather it would if anyone actually read my blog. I think I’m safe. There really is no such thing as a therapy dog. This whole thing with dogs has legitimacy only because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law says that if you have a “service dog” you and your dog may not be denied access. So what is a service dog? Well that does not seem to be as important as how to get one and the only legal way to get one is with a prescription. If your problem is all in your head then you can get a prescription for that too from your shrink and you can call him an “emotional comfort dog”, not a therapy dog.
There is even a law about what happens if you claim to have a service dog and she is not. I imagine this is more about whether you have a legal script rather than the qualifications of the dog.
So then what does it mean when you see these “therapy dogs” walking around with their vest and patches attesting to their kind intentions? It simply means that someone has spent time working with the dog and allows others to enjoy their company, probably for tips and treats. If they are lucky they have found a nursing home or maybe even a hospital that will allow them to visit. But I have to ask myself why? I can’t imagine tips coming close to paying for the insurance.
PUPPIES! We have puppies, roly poly, cute and cuddly, adorable and precious. And not just any puppies but Komondor puppies! For many years I had watched the dog shows and marveled at the Komondorok as they floated around the ring. How many times did I remark, “I want one of those”? Well much has changed since I saw my first Kom on TV, changes that allowed for me to actually have one of these magnificent dogs. The biggest change is I now live on a farm that uses working dogs, the perfect place for such a dog.
These are not your average dog and don’t thrive in the cities. They were breed to endure some of the worst weather that nature has to offer and defend their charge against fearsome predators. I love these dogs! I can put them in the pastures in the midst of a blizzard to fight off packs of coyotes and then turn in for the night without fear of what I will find in the morning. Nothing can do that except a LGD, not a llama or donkey or other such animal I have read about that some have claimed guard their livestock. A U.S. Marine could do it but otherwise, no.
We have Great Pyrenees that handle most of the work now as we are just developing our Komondor training program so I will say something about them. They set a very high bar for our new Kom puppies to reach. Our dam is Paige, of the Montgomery Kennel as is the sire, Zenta, a Hungarian import. Paige is the fourth Kom to live at Cota Farms and her litter is the first born here.
In addition to offering our puppies for sale, I hope to have sales of trained pups. Ideally these pups would be purchased along with the rest but remain here for an additional period for training. In this way we hope to develop a more modern training approach to livestock guard dogs. Most of the present training methods are focused on a type of sheepherding that is used less today and far less here in America. Much of the sheep production that goes on here is done on small farms or on limited acreage. There is also the likely hood of some other livestock on the premises, like chickens or geese. In the old countries the dogs may prey on these birds in an attempt to feed themselves but today dog food is abundant and so the dogs can be expected to protect everything in their domain.
We have had rather good success so far. I can say that our losses under all circumstances are much less than when we did not have the dogs. I have noted the drive to attack waterfowl seems to be greater than with chickens or turkeys. This is something I will keep track of. The smaller predators that like to prey on chickens or ducks are also deterred by the presence of the dogs as we seldom find their carcasses anymore and the dogs don’t usually consume the whole animal even if they do take a bite out of it.
Cota Farms will be hosting a quail hunt this spring and we are even now planning for it to be a great success. It’s actually a quail run as there are no guns involved. So that all the dogs and not just experienced bird dogs have a chance at retrieving one of the prize quail, here are some training tips for the winter. Get your dog a toy for Christmas that is about the size and shape of a quail. Work with her through the winter by throwing the toy into high grasses, or perhaps hiding it in a large park or wooded area, use your imagination. The trick is to get your dog to retrieve the toy, bring it back to you without eating it. This would be a simple matter if it was just a toy but your dog may not want to bring back a live bird and instead have lunch. Add some meat or treat to the toy and get your dog to bring it back to you first then you can reward her. Send me a note if you have any questions or would like to come out to the farm to train sometime. More details will follow as to date and entry fees, prizes, etc. Good luck!