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Leerburg Dog Training Blog

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

Drift Therapy

My training is in psychology.  I have a degree and certificate from the State of WI that says that I am a “Mental Health Professional.”  I worked for many years in a treatment setting for mentally ill and emotionally disturbed children and teens.  As one can expect, it is a high burn out kind of job, so I no longer work at that facility, and have turned my focus towards dogs and dog training at Leerburg.

While working at the facility, I certified my GSD Drift as a therapy dog, and she worked with the kids 4 days a week.  She did wonderful things there, and when I left the facility, I always felt bad about Drift no longer being able to do what I believe she was born to do.

Last year I approached our supervisor and asked if it would be OK if I took Drift over to the facility once a week so that she could continue working with kids, and the kids would be able to spend some time with her. He agreed that it was a good idea, so every Tuesday, Drift and I spend an hour there with the kids.  On the chalkboard where they write the daily schedule, they have “Drift Therapy” written in our time slot.

Most days they just play with her, take her for walks, and try to teach her tricks.  Doing these things with her helps them to develop patience and empathy – plus they just plain burn some energy off.

Today was a little bit different.  Today we went in, and one of the kids – who is normally very bubbly and happy – was very quiet and sad.  As soon as Drift walked into the building, she gravitated to this girl and stayed at her side the whole time we were there.

I found out later that there was a death in this kid’s circle of friends.  Her friend had committed suicide just a few days ago, and this young lady felt as though she had been deserted by all… but the dog was there.  The dog did not judge her or her friend.  The dog just offered love and compassion when it was needed, and asked for nothing in return.

It is times like this that I am grateful that I have a dog like Drift in my life.  I am grateful that Leerburg allows her to do what she does – even if it is only one hour per week. It is times like this, watching my dog heal a young girl’s heart, that I stand in awe of the magic that a dog possesses.

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