Letter to the Editor
Animal-Assisted Therapy
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 5 page 40-41

I was pleased to read the article in the December 20, 2002, issue about Dr. Rachel Fleissner and her therapy dogs. Mozart, my 2-year-old border collie mix, accompanies me to my outpatient adult psychiatry office and a community mental health center as a therapy dog in training. He has been warmly received by patients and staff. One woman with chronic schizophrenia whom I’d never seen smile in two years sat on the floor beaming while rubbing Mozart’s belly.

I’d like to make one correction. Rather than buying a dog with the Canine Good Citizen or other certification, potential handlers should train the dog for these certifications themselves. It would be unusual to find an already trained dog available, and handlers need the training as much as the dog. An experienced dog trainer can help evaluate a puppy’s potential as a therapy dog. A pedigree is not necessary—I’m proud to say that Mozart was rescued from our local city pound.

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