Therapy Dog Teams, Members of Alliance of Therapy Dogs:
Vickie Ragle: Board of Directors and Therapy Dog Owner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vickie Ragle graciously offers consults on dog training, free of charge for veterans. I do think our men & women need more encouragement & support now than ever. I’m now happy to offer that publicly.
“I have owned dogs all my life. I started with the Rescue Dogs when I moved to Van Zandt County. We started working with the therapy dogs in 2011. There is a great need for rescue dogs in our county.”
“Therapy dogs are also known as “Comfort” dogs.“ They minister to the public. It may be in a hospital, a nursing home, or school reading programs. Service dogs, on the other hand, do tasks for only “one” individual.
Service dogs can be emotional support, sight, mobility, seizure alert, diabetic or medical alerts. A lot of people need PTSD dogs.”
“A therapy dog could very easily become a service dog. They are already tuned into alerting a diabetic or a seizure prone person, they have all the qualities these dogs have. The dogs we bring into facilities must be good with people. They also have to be good with other dogs. The only dogs that we shy away from are wolf or coyote hybrid dogs. Any dog that pass the human or canine interaction, we encourage them into our program. We take pit bulls and even great Danes.
We train and encourage our handlers to train their dogs to be good with humans, and good with other dogs. They do not have to go to professional training. We encourage them to have good leash manners, learn to line up next to a wheelchair or walker, get them used to the medical equipment in facilities. We also stress the dogs must be good with kids.
We are looking for non-reactive to noises and situations and just comfort levels within the dogs. Older dogs are treasures. They are usually comfortable and laid back.”
“Lady Bug,” is a Giant Schnauzer, Vickie says with a smile. Dogs are allowed to be tested at one year of age to become a therapy dog if they have the temperament and calmness.”
Therapy Dog Teams was started in 2012. Handlers are all registered Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) teams. The handlers do it for comradery. There is a great need in all the counties. They currently have 17 therapy dogs In VZC and 15 handlers.
To veterans the therapy dogs bring an instant calm. Some veterans have been past dog handlers in war situations. You can immediately see when a therapy dog walks up to a handler. There is an instant bond and the vets start telling stories about their dogs.
“Vickie Ragle, Waundene Blue, Pat Hammond and Regena Bell are all board members. You must be an ATD member,” Vickie said.
“You can walk up to a person who looks like they are lost and they may be having the worst day of their life, but when you bring a dog in front of them…instant joy on their face, smiles and for many, the dogs bring them back to their youths. The most rewarding place to be is on the other end of the leash, it is therapeutic for both of us. We had a lady over in Van that could not speak, but when confronted with one of our therapy dogs she broke out into a song, a beautiful song and we didn’t think she would ever speak again. The nurses were amazed. Everyone was in shock.”
“I joined last July. You can’t join until your dog is twelve months old. I have been a visitor of nursing homes since I was a kid. Adding “Clyde” (a Great Dane) to the mix was something I always wanted to do. Now I am in a position to visit the nursing homes, hospitals, schools and libraries. Great Danes are very gentle. They were bred originally to be Nanny dogs. With his long legs his stamina is much greater than some of the smaller dogs.
He can walk and walk without tiring. He is so tall he can walk over to the bed without being picked up. I get out of being a handler way more than the people we visit. Just giving someone five minutes of my time is a great pleasure for me. Veterans will tell us, I use to have this dog, or I use to have that dog, and how much they miss their pets.”
Therapy Dog Teams are available to visit schools, nursing homes, assisted living homes, hospitals and other facilities as requested.
There is a greater need than they can fill. Contact them at (903) 880-3514 or email Vickie Ragle at email@example.com.