Therapy Dogs: A Special Kind of Love

Therapy Dogs: A Special Kind of Love
Photo by Stephanie Conway Dirk the Doxie hanging out at Crystal Bridges.

Photo by Stephanie Conway Dirk the Doxie hanging out at Crystal Bridges.

Therapy dogs are pets that volunteer in the community. They visit places like hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities to offer comfort and support. They are also used for reading programs, in disaster areas, and in schools as a tool to help improve the lives of other people.

To become certified, a dog must be tested by an evaluator on basic commands, behavior around medical equipment, and overall disposition. There are several organizations that evaluate and register therapy dogs, and each organization has their own specific criteria to be tested for. Delta Pet Partners, Therapy Dogs International, Love on a Leash, and Alliance of Therapy Dogs are all organizations that certify and register therapy dogs.

Northwest Arkansas has many volunteer opportunities and a great need for therapy dogs. The Fayetteville Public Library offers the Sit-Stay-Read Program which pairs emerging readers with a therapy dog. Highlands Oncology utilizes therapy dogs to visit with patients undergoing chemotherapy; and the Veterans Home and local nursing homes welcome and appreciate therapy dog visits, too. These are just a few examples of many opportunities to volunteer with your dog in our beautiful community.

There are resources to help you and your dog get started in becoming a therapy team. Helping Paws of NWA is a wonderful support group of therapy dog teams and they welcome anyone interested in learning more to come to a monthly meeting. They meet on the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church in Rogers. Well behaved dogs are welcome, too.

Dirk the Doxie just finished his requirements to be a therapy dog through Love on A Leash. Once his paperwork is processed, he will be a proud volunteer for the Sit-Stay-Read Program at the Fayetteville Public Library. If you are interested in more information on how to get your dog certified, please feel free to email me at:

November Happenings:

Animals League of Washington County Pet Wellness Expo will take place Saturday Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The expo includes $5 Rabies, $5 Boosters, $10 mirco-chipping, adoptable pets, and spay/neuter information. Washington County Sheriff’s Office East Wing Annex – 1166 Clydesdale Dr., Fayetteville.

Kingfish, at 262 N. School Ave., is having a pet food drive benefiting Rangers Pantry on Monday Nov. 9 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Pantry will be on-site collecting dog and cat food donations, and Kingfish will be serving up the fun! Bring your pup and help fill the pantry’s trailer.

Join Spay Arkansas for An Evening of Mystery, Magic and Intrigue Friday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. at St. Anthony’s on the Creek in Lowell. Awe-inspiring entertainment will be provided by Sean-Paul the Illusionist and his wife, Juliana the Medium from Intrigue Theater in Eureka Springs. Tickets are $75 and include beer & wine, and a silent auction. All guests will receive an eco-tote gift bag filled with great items valued at $75.

Mermaids Restaurant is hosting theHumane Society of the Ozarks “Tails of Love Preview Party” on Thursday Nov. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Partygoers will enjoy live music from the Ben Harris 4tet acoustic jazz group, delicious food from Mermaids, refreshments from Liquor World and Crossover Liquor, desserts from Rick’s Bakery and a silent auction. Proceeds support HSO programs including low cost spay/neuter assistance, emergency vet care assistance, rescue/adoption, shelter/rescue outreach, feral cat trap/neuter/return (TNR), senior citizen pet care and community education. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Till next month,

XOXO Stephanie and Dirk

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