I know I have not written in a long time. I have suffered some setbacks with Mercy since my last post. Mercy has needed more training to renew her skills and manners lately. Needless to say, life has been very stressful lately.
I need people who believe in me who will help build me up and set me up for success, instead of other dog people giving up on me, excluding me or ratting me out when Mercy and I are having difficulties. I know that Mercy has great potential. I am made to feel like Mercy and I must stand on the porch because we are facing a few hiccups. The lack of grace in the dog world is more than I can stand sometimes. It makes me feel as though I do not matter. Some people involved with therapy dogs will devalue rather than compassionately help someone to overcome who is slipping up. What I really need is more understanding and support, not penalization. For one, I struggle with social skills because I have a form of high functioning autism as I mentioned before on my blog. I am also working on dealing with fear drivenness, shame and arrested emotional development from my past.
Thankfully, I have found a dog trainer 30 miles away who will help me get Mercy back on track.
I have strongly considered giving up my Therapy Dogs Inc. (Now Alliance Therapy Dogs) credentials and trading them in for Pet Partners credentials. Yes, they are stricter, for good reason, but they are also more supportive. If you are sincerely working with your dog, doing your best to be a competent therapy dog handler, some local Pet Partners instructors/evaluators will work with you to ensure success. I was a Pet Partner 10-12 years ago with my previous dog, a Lab/German Shepherd mix named Coal. I retired Coal from therapy service after I got married in 2006. Coal then died in 2009 when my son was only 3 months old, so I was without a dog for 2 1/2 years before I obtained Mercy. Since it had been a long while, I need to go through the steps all over again as a new Pet Partners handler. I attended a Pet Partners class yesterday as one of the required steps to get my Pet Partners credentials. The woman who taught it was awesome. In fact she was the evaluator who passed Coal in 2003 and again in 2005. Leslie Horton is everything I have been looking for in a mentor. She has high standards for excellence, but she is also fiercely loyal to her volunteers, working with people, not giving up on them, even those who have gotten a Not Ready on their evaluations. She runs the Animal Assisted Care program at Inova Fairfax hospital and has been running it for 15 years. She is such an expert in animal behavior and is also understanding and patient with people. She is amazing. She has the life experience that has helped her to be more compassionate and accepting of people from all walks of life. She recognized me right away.
I am having my Pet Partners evaluation with Mercy on December 5th (Not with Leslie). I also have an interview with someone at a program for troubled teens on December 11th. Things are looking up. I could still use all of your prayers. Encouragement will be very helpful to me at this time. I have my work cut out for me over the next month to get Mercy in tip top shape for the Pet Partners evaluation. I still have to get another copy of her rabies certificate and a cat brush among other things to do to prepare for the evaluation. I will certainly keep you all posted as to how things turn out.