Therapy Dog Classes
Laurie Haake, owner of The Family Dog Center is certified to administer the Therapy Dog International test to certify teams of handlers & their dogs so they may be recognized
as a TDI team. We have several classes each year that will help you prepare for this test.
The use of canines to help mankind is known throughout the world. They have been used for guarding flocks, tracking, hunting, search and rescue, leading the blind, and in assisting the deaf and physically challenged. The bond between dog and man dates back to early history, but it wasn’t until recently that a correlation was acknowledged between this bond and the emotional health of humans. Studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression.
What is Therapy Dogs International?
Therapy Dogs International, Inc. (TDI) is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed.
When was TDI established?
TDI was founded in 1976 in New Jersey (Founder, Elaine Smith).
What types of dogs are used?
TDI registers all breeds of dogs. Some dogs have pedigrees, while others have been adopted from local shelters or are rescue dogs.
How many dogs are registered?
Year 2006, over 15,000 dogs and approximately 13,000 handlers are registered with TDI.
Where do the dogs volunteer?
We have volunteer dogs and their handlers in all 50 states as well as some in Canada.
What are the requirements for joining TDI?
To belong to Therapy Dogs International, Inc., all dogs must be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator. A dog must be a minimum of one (1) year of age and have a sound temperament. Each dog must pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC), and a temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog. The test will also include the evaluation of the dog's behavior around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).
What are the health requirements?
We require our Health Record Form to be completed and signed by a licensed veterinarian.
How is the organization funded?
TDI is a non-profit organization supported through annual membership dues.
How is the organization managed?
Ursula A. Kempe, a full time volunteer President/CEO is directing the affairs and business office of the organization. A volunteer Board of Directors** governs the organization.
How do I obtain more information?
Our mailing address is:
88 Bartley Road, Flanders, New Jersey 07836;
Tel: (973) 252-9800
Fax: (973) 252-7171
Therapy Dogs International, Inc. © 2006
History of TDI
Therapy Dogs International, Inc. (TDI) was founded in 1976 by Elaine Smith, formerly of Hillside, NJ, now a resident of California. A registered nurse working in England, Smith observed the benefits of pets interacting with patients. She noticed how the patients reacted to the daily visits of the chaplain and his companion, a Golden Retriever. Upon returning to the United States, Smith was determined to bring the concept of pet therapy to health care facilities.
Elaine Smith with Phila CDX (German Shepherd Dog), Ursula Kempe with Sam UDT, SCHIII FH (German Shepherd Dog) and Tippy UD (German Shepherd Dog), Madeleine Loos with OTCH Jodi (Collie), Ronn Loos (deceased) with Holli UDTX (German Shepherd Dog) and John Makutus (deceased) with Ebony UDTX (German Shepherd Dog) were the first group to visit institutions and helped put into action Elaine Smith’s dream. Of those living, all are still active Associate Members with TDI.
TDI was formed so that dogs could be certified, insured and registered as volunteer Therapy Dogs. The goal of the organization is to unite and increase the number of available Therapy Dogs, give them the recognition they deserve, and to alert hospitals and other institutions to the importance of “Therapy Dog visits to their patients.”
Milton Wynn (the first president of TDI) and Elaine Smith were instrumental in drafting legislation in New Jersey, which was passed in 1984, allowing assistance dogs for people with disabilities all the same rights as guide dogs, not to be confused with emotional service dogs (our TDI dogs).
Since the term “Therapy Dog” has become a household word, confusion has arisen concerning these rights. Different organizations have been created, and some have copied Elaine Smith’s ideas and used the term “Therapy Dog” or even “TDI.” Currently all dogs which are registered with TDI provide emotional service only! Laws in various states are confusing and often use the phrase “Therapy Dogs” to indicate dogs that may or may not be dogs used for emotional service. Laws have to be read carefully as sometimes the legislators are not aware of the difference between an emotional service dog and an assistance dog for people with disabilities. Emotional service dogs are the type of dogs which are registered with TDI. TDI dogs do not have the same rights as assistance dogs, which at times are also referred to as Therapy Dogs.
The dogs used for therapy work vary in size and type. They may not all be “pure-bred,” but they all have a love of people. As Elaine Smith has often said, “All Therapy Dogs have one thing in common. Their owners have discovered Therapy Dogs International, Inc. and have the unselfish desire to help others, taking time to paws awhile for love.”
After years of informal evaluations of potential Therapy Dogs, our Board of Directors decided that a more formal test was needed. At the same time, the American Kennel Club (AKC) was developing the Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC). A board member of TDI served on the committee developing the CGC. The test was developed “to demonstrate that the dog, as a companion of man, can be a respected member of the community.”
Before certification to serve as a potential Therapy Dog, dogs and handlers must pass the Canine Good Citizen Test meeting our requirements, given by our special qualified, certified Evaluators. These Evaluators all have years of experience working with dogs and experience with Therapy Dogs. Evaluators must submit a detailed resume of their dog and Therapy Dog activities to TDI and have to abide by TDI’s rules and guidelines.
The organization, which is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, now has an office located in Flanders, NJ, with a full-time paid staff. Funds for TDI come from the registration of the dogs and the Associate Member dues. Donations and bequests are welcome.
TDI is the oldest registry for Therapy Dogs in the United States, with dogs working in the US and Canada and some other countries.
TDI was founded in the late 1970’s. In 1989, TDI was completely reorganized under the direction of the current volunteer President/CEO, Ursula A. Kempe.
The future goal for TDI is to continue to bring joy and comfort to those in need, to improve all phases of operations, and to make more TDI dogs available by striving to improve and expand the relationship between TDI and institutions, and individuals in need of emotional service dogs.
Therapy Dogs International, Inc. © 2006
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Family Dog Center
N3089 Hwy 16 LaCrosse, WI 54601