Sign In

Pet Therapy Teams

July 13, 2020

This weekend there were barks and cheers as Gulfport welcomed six new pet therapy teams.

Saturday, the Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi honored its 2020 class of pet graduates. Six canines and their handlers received diplomas and a chew toy for successful completion of their course instruction and their evaluation.

The ceremony was held at Gulfport Memorial Hospital. All human attendees wore masks and were spread six feet apart. While COVID-19 did not prevent the graduation event from happening, it did affect the number of graduates. Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi Coordinator Michael Bowin said, “We would’ve had six but we had a couple that dropped out for other reasons. And this is considered that we’ve been basically four months without any evaluations. So this was a very small year for us.”

The Pet Therapy’s team evaluator, Carla Anderson, had some parting words for her pet teams as they embark on a journey she began 10 years ago. “Those new dog handler teams, sometimes I remind them, you know, don’t drop your lead, pay attention to what your dog is doing at all times, and you’re your dog’s advocate. It’s your responsibility to remove your animal from the situation if your animal becomes stressed.”

Anderson says therapy dogs aren’t made, they’re born. A couple of the many traits she says they should have is getting along with children and not backing away from physical touch. “You can train obedience and field and agility, but you can’t train temperament and personality.” The basic duties of a therapy pet, according to the group’s motto, are to enhance lives, reduce loneliness, and create motivation through animal assisted activities and animal assisted therapy. “It’s just all about the dogs. I just joke and say I’m just the driver. They do everything. And they do, they do.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Helping Vets And Pets

    AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR Phyllis Limbacher Tildes always had a soft spot for those in need, and when she saw a video of rescued shelter pets being trained to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she felt compelled to give back. This burning desire helped inspire her to create a project she calls “Art […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Community

    No longer will emotional support animals be considered service animals. A service animal is defined only as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” That means “emotional support” peacocks, pigs and horses will no longer be able to fly. For Kelly […]

    Read more

    Health Wellness For Dogs

    As humans, we’re increasingly taking care of our health and wellbeing in holistic ways – and now, it’s the same when it comes to our dog. Subsequently, a growing market of pet treatments, therapies and supplements are now available meaning our pampered pooches have never had it so good. “Dog owners consider their dogs as […]

    Read more

    Power Of Dogs

    It’s been a difficult year for non-profit. Many rely on big gatherings and fundraisers to create the profit they need to keep the organization running. The same goes for Project 2 Heal, a Waxhaw non-profit, who works to raise puppies to become service animals. Project 2 Heal are believers in that a dig is a […]

    Read more

    Paws With A Cause

     The Department of Transportation has ruled that airlines will no longer allow Emotional Support Animals on airplanes. Local assistance dog organization, Paws With A Cause, explains what this ruling means for them. Paws With A Cause, based in Wayland, custom-trains Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines an Assistance Dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Jax

    After every home game, Chandler head football coach Rick Garretson meets his wife, Wendy, and his kids at the north end zone at Austin Field. It’s there he greets his family and takes the leash of his German shepherd, Jax, who is a certified therapy dog. The two then walk toward the team huddle where […]

    Read more