Evolution of a therapy dog – Part I

Meet 3-month old Rory.

We found Rory when we were looking for our first dog and puppy 033speaking to a breeder about different types of dogs and their temperaments and suitability for our house. Given we were going to be introducing a dog to a; relatively small backyard, 3 adult (and set in their ways) cats and a household where all the human members worked full-time (albeit staggered hours) we wanted to make sure we weren’t setting ourselves (and our new addition) up for failure.

Her suggestions fit with our online research: cavalier crosses love their people and are eager to please, but also don’t mind some alone time now and then. They tend to get on well with cats (especially when introduced to them early) and despite being lively, they don’t need masses of space as long as they get their regular exercise through walks and training. Looking at crosses meant we were more likely to avoid a lot of the health complications that sometimes come with purebreds.

The breeder said she had one puppy left from a ‘surprise’ litter. The puppy’s mum was a cavalier but they didn’t know who the dad was. The breeder thought it had been probably been a maltese or maltese cross. She was now 3-months old and had been sent to a pet store just that day, not far from where we lived. The breeder said she was a sweetheart. She was.


For the first few weeks she was probably equal measures bouncy and sleepy. And she did both all out! No holds barred!

As first time dog owners it was a sharp learning curve! Puppy school was invaluable and as it was run at our local vet’s it meant that Rory developed a (so far) lifelong love of going to the vet’s! Even after having surgery on a grass seed abscess (check out the bandage) and suffering the indignity of the thermometer on numerous occasions, she hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for the place and will drag us through the door if we’re not going fast enough!


Rory’s love of new people and places had us looking for ways to extend her socialisation and that took us to our first training school. Rory thrived and very quickly made her way up the levels.


But we found (as many do) that while she was brilliant during training classes and paid rapt attention while we had the treats in our hands, getting her to follow instructions or ‘the rules’ outside of class was a whole different ball game! This was the beginning of Rory’s ‘destructive’ period and nothing was sacred.


And while it was hard staying mad at that face – we realised we needed to do something more than basic obedience training if we were ever going to be able to leave the house unguarded!

I’d also started working with a therapy dog in my private practice and was wondering if it was something that Rory would be suited for. Certainly she would love working with the people, but could she be trusted to work around older clients without bowling them over with her enthusiastic greetings? Or sit quietly in a session with a rambunctious 6-year old and not get out of control herself?

Ok, obviously she could or she wouldn’t be on this page as a graduate, but tune in next week for Part 2 to find out how it all came about!

And how Rory went from this…


to this….



If you’re interested in learning more about AAT, please check out this blog post and our online training program.

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