Breed Basics / Therapy Dogs
Anyone who has looked into the calm, all-knowing eyes of a Pyr inherently knows the value of these dogs as therapy animals. Somehow, just being around these gentle, beautiful animals can make you feel better.
Their size is ideal too—especially if you are sitting in a wheel chair, a Pyr is just the right height to pat. Not too tall, not too small—but just right. And if you stand up on your feet and feel a wee bit wobbly—well, there's all that soft, furry coat to hang onto. Pyrs are oh-so-very huggable and eminently lovable, they seem perfect for therapy work. Those of us who have them as pets hug them a lot because it feels good. We love to be nuzzled by them in return and enfolded in their gentle aura.
So it's no surprise that Pyrs are coming into their own as therapy and emotional service dogs. When seen regally walking down a hospital corridor, Pyrs inevitably invoke the question, "What kind of dog is that?" Rescuers have had more than a few inquiries about adopting from people who have seen these gentle giants pacing up and down hospital or nursing home corridors—and wanted to own one of their very own. Pyrs are smart, too—you could almost say intuitively smart. They have been known to alert people to seizures or heart attacks before the symptoms are detectable to the rest of us mere humans.
Of course there is the inevitable question, is therapy work right for you and your dog? Your Pyr must have the right temperament for this work and be responsive to your commands. The process of acclimating an animal to working in a facility takes time, patience and usually requires certification by a recognized animal therapy organization. Obtaining a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate is a good first step, and dogs must also be up-to-date with their vaccinations and have the paperwork to prove this. You should then contact several facilities that are close by to learn about their pet therapy programs, and whether their therapy animals are certified by a national program. Surprisingly, the decision to do therapy may have as much to do with your temperament and time allowances as with your dog's ability to interact successfully with patients.
And remember, if you choose not to enter a formal therapy program, there's nothing to stop you and others from basking in your Pyr's therapeutic aura in the park, on the street, or anywhere these dogs are seen and admired.