As our regular readers know, Covenant House’s mental health team has been augmented with the support of Walter, an adorable beagle and therapy dog-in training, for the past year. I am pleased to report that Walter is no longer “in training” – he passed his test last week with Pets and Friends and is now qualified to go into hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities. In order to pass, Walter had to undergo testing that amongst other things, includes evaluating a dog’ s response to loud noises, how a dog greets a person (no jumping on them etc.) and how the dog responds to their handler being attacked.
Jesse, Walter’s guardian and one of our mental health clinicians, explained that the examiner simulates a situation where the dog handler is attacked to gauge how the dog will respond: will he/she be aggressive towards the attacker? If so, they automatically fail. Jesse said the examiner ran up and pushed into him while Walter observed. Well, instead of showing any aggression towards the examiner/attacker, Walter jumped up on her lap and started licking her face! What a way to diffuse an angry attacker – dog kisses. Needless to say, Walter passed with flying colours.
We are pleased to welcome Walter as a permanent member of our team.
Jesse and Walter
Photo by Kent Kallberg