Trubel, the deaf therapy dog
Eric van Eck from Moore, Oklahoma, has a very special dog.
This is his story.
My wife Janice and I were going to our local pet store to get dog food for our three older dogs. Belle was our 15 year old Stabyhoun we got from the Netherlands, Jazie is one of her pups and Crystal is our 13 year old we got from a Second Chance Rescue out of Columbia, MO.
When we got to the store there was another adoption event hosted by Second Chance Rescue out of Norman OK. As we walked by this little pup sitting nice and quiet in her kennel and I asked about the pup because there was something I saw in her face that caught my interest. They told us the pup was a 6 months old deaf pup and her name was Claret. She was thought to be half Jack Russel and half Shih Tzu. They knew she had been in two homes already and the last owner brought her back to the Second Chance Rescue because they couldn’t deal with her being deaf. We really didn’t want this good looking dog go to another bad home.
My wife really liked her too and we didn’t think it was a big deal that the pup was deaf. We knew that Belle was a really great mother and had taken Crystal in like she was one of her own. So we thought the other dogs would accept the pup like they did before. Boy were we wrong! When we got home she was like a bomb exploded. She chased the other dogs around and she was so fast it aggravated us and our dogs. At that point we could tell she had been abused and was a really insecure pup. Anytime we would raise our hand she would cower down just like a dog who was beaten before by previous owners. In addition she would go around the house and chew the legs of our chairs, other furniture and any books or magazines she could reach.
She would try and climb up the cat tree to get the cat food or climb up on the dining room table. To top it off, she got on our bed twice and peed on the bed cover so we had to get the cover dry cleaned. We could see her insecurity in almost everything she did every day. When she was asleep on the floor and we came over to wake her up she would shoot across the floor like she expected to be hit. For weeks we were at a loss what to do to help her become a member of the family. With all these problems my wife called her “A little bit of trouble” and that gave me an idea for a new name for the pup. There was a TV show on Friday nights called “Grimm” and one of the female characters had a stage name of “Trubel” but they pronounced it “Trouble”. So she got her name after this TV person and we spelled it just like the show.
In the pastI had trained four hunting dogs for bird hunting. The first one was an Irish Setter, then I trained a Beagle to hunt birds and trained her to stay within range to make the shots. Then I trained the two Stabyhouns to bird hunt too. None of those techniques worked for Trubel and I never had to use food to motivate these dogs. After a few months I got her enrolled into a basic obedience class where we used treats to help motivate the dogs. That was what really worked for Trubel and helped her to learn things we needed her to do around the home. After I managed to reach her we found she really took to training and learning new things, so I had to come up with hand signals she would understand. In the process we really developed a strong bond and I thought since she was so fast I tried Fly ball with her. That didn’t work out because she will only play fetch when she feels like playing. She is just a little stubborn at times.
As she was learning new things she really started to bond more with us and our other dogs. We could tell when we took her to different stores and met other dogs that she really loves everyone and all dogs as long as they are stable, friendly dogs.
And then we took Trubel to the “Canine Sports Academy” for her training one day and they were promoting the TDI (Therapy Dogs International). Since the Fly ball didn’t work out I thought we could try to pass the requirements to become a Therapy dog. CSA offered a class to get your dog ready to pass the TDI requirement. Trubel just loved learning more things and she did so well the only thing she missed while being tested was my fault because I rewarded her before that section was completed. We just did it over and she performed it perfectly. It was a little funny when we were in the class and during the testing other people there wondered why we weren’t using verbal commands. Once they learned she was deaf they understood the situation.
Once we got our application and paid the fees, TDI directed us to facilities that requested a therapy dog. As it stands now Trubel and I visit three Nursing homes, one once a week and the other two we go twice a month.
We also go to a city library twice a month where they have a program where kids read to dogs. We also just started at one of the local Elementary Schools in town where we go once a month. We go in the afternoon and Trubel is the only dog in the group that doesn’t have a problem visiting with the Autistic kids in special education class rooms.
Her name is a good icebreaker in visiting kids. With older people the name always surprises them. They asked why we would name such a sweet dog Trubel and it gives a good opening to tell them the story of her past and start a talk.
Having a pup that was a “Little bit of trouble” which changed into such a sweet dog has been amazing. All it took was time and giving her a secure home to make her a great dog that gives to others. She just needed a job to keep her busy.
The only things she does now compared to the first couple of months is she still likes to jump onto coffee tables and stares at us like “what are you going to do about it?”
Well, we’ll just forgive her that.
A Therapy Dog must have an outstanding temperament. This means that the dog should be outgoing and friendly to all people; men, women, and children. The dog should be tolerant of other dogs (of both genders) and non-aggressive toward other pets.
The dog must wear a non-corrective collar or harness and a 6ft leash
The test contains the following steps:
TEST 1: TDI ENTRY TABLE (Simulated as a Hospital Reception Desk)
The dog/handler teams are lined up to be checked in (simulating a visit). The evaluator (“volunteer coordinator”) will go down the line of registrants and greet each new arrival including each dog. At the same time the collars will be checked, as well as nails, ears and grooming and lifting of all 4 paws and tail, which must be lifted if applicable. If the dog has a short cropped tail it should be touched.
TEST 2: CHECK-IN AND OUT OF SIGHT (time: One Minute)
The handler will be asked to check in. After the check-in has been completed the handler will be escorted by a helper to where the handler is supposed to sit. All dogs will be placed in a down position on the handler’s left side keeping teams at least 8 feet apart. Now the handler will start completing the paperwork. Once all teams have been placed, the helper(s) will ask the handler(s) if they can hold their dogs. Now the handler(s) will leave for “one minute”. The handler(s) can give the “stay” command verbally or by hand signal or both. The helper(s) can talk to and pet the dog(s). The dog(s) can sit, lie down, stand or walk around within the confines of the leash.
TEST 3: GETTING AROUND PEOPLE
As the dog/handler team walks toward the patients’ rooms, there will be various people standing around. Some of the people will try visiting with the dog. The dog/handler team must demonstrate that the dog can withstand the approach and touching by several people from all sides at the same time and is willing to visit and walk around a group of people.
TEST 4: GROUP SIT/STAY
The evaluator will ask all the participants to line up with their dogs in a heel position (w/dog on left or right), with 8 ft. between each team. Now the handlers will put their dogs in a sit/stay position. The handlers will give the sit command to the dogs. The evaluator will tell the handlers to leave their turn around and face the dog(s) and wait for the evaluator’s command to return to their dog(s). (The evaluator will give the return command immediately).
TEST 5: GROUP DOWN/STAY
Same as test number 4, except dogs will now be in a down/ stay.
TEST 6: RECALL ON A 20 FT. LEASH
All handlers will be seated. Three dogs at a time will be fitted with a long line. The reason we fit more than one dog with a long line at the same time is to save time. The handler will continue to hold the 6 ft leash while the long line is fitted bya helper. To avoid any kind of incident, the evaluator will make sure that the handler is holding the 6 ft leash until the dog has been placed and is ready to be tested for the recall. One handler at a time will take the dog to a designated area which is out of reach of the other dogs even with a 20 ft. line.
The evaluator will then give the command: Down your dog!. The handler can down the dog either by voice and or by handsignal. The evaluator will give the command: Leave your dog!. The handler will tell the dog to stay either by voice and or by hand signal. The handler now will turn away from the dog and walk in a straight line to the end of the 20 ft. lead.
The handler will turn and face the dog. The evaluator immediately mwill tell the handler to call the dog. The handler will call the dog, either by voice, hand signal or both.
TEST 7: VISITING WITH A PATIENT
The dog should show willingness to visit a person and demonstrate that it can be made readily accessible for petting (i.e. small dogs will be placed on a person’s lap or held; medium dogs will sit on a chair or stand close to the patient to be easily reached, and larger dogs will be standing).
TEST 8: TESTING OF REACTIONS TO UNUSUALSITUATIONS
The dog handler team will be walking in a straight line. The dog can be on either side, or slightly behind the handler; the leash must not be tight. The evaluator will ask the handler to have the dog sit (the handler may say sit or use a hand signal or both). Next the evaluator will ask the handler to down thedog (the handler may say down or use a hand signal or both).
Next continuing walking in a straight line, the handler will be asked to make a right, left and an about turn at the evaluator’sdiscretion.
The following distractions will be added to the heel on aloose leash.
a. The team will be passing a person on crutches.
b. Someone running by calling “excuse me, excuse me” waving hands (this person is running up from behind the dog. It could also be a person on a bicycle, roller blades, or a skateboard etc).
c. Another person will be walking by and drop something making a loud startling noise (a tin can filled with pebbles or a clipboard). At an indoor test there may be a running vacuum cleaner (realistic in a facility).
d. Next the team will be requested to make an about turn.
e. And then a left turn.
f. Then the team should be requested to make a right turn, going back parallel toward the starting point in a straight line.
TEST 9: LEAVE-IT; PART ONE
The dog handler/team meets a person in a wheelchair. The dog should approach the person and visit. The person in the wheelchair, after briefly interacting with the dog, will offer the dog a treat by holding the treat steady in the hand while enticing the dog. The handler must instruct the dog to leave it. It is up to the handler as to what kind of verbal command they use to keep the dog from licking or taking the food. The handler should explain to the patient why the dog cannot eat a treat while visiting (i.e. dog has food allergies).
TEST 10: LEAVE-IT; PART TWO
The dog handler will be walking in a straight line with the dog at heel. There will be a piece of food in the path of the dog. The dog is not allowed to lick or eat the food. There should also be a bowl of water in the path of the dog. The dog is not allowed to drink.
TEST 11: MEETING ANOTHER DOG
A volunteer with a demo dog will walk past the dog handler/team, turn around and ask the handler a question. After abrief conversation, the two handlers part.
TEST 12: ENTERING THROUGH A DOOR TO VISIT AT THE FACILITY
A person should be able to go through the entrance ahead of the dog/handler team. The dog handler team is ready to enter through a door to a facility. The handler first has to put the dog in a sit, stand, or down stay, whatever is most comfortable for the dog.
TEST 13: REACTION TO CHILDREN
The children will be running and yelling, playing ball, dropping objects, and doing what children usually do while playing.
1. The handler will walk with the dog past playing children(distance from the children must be at least 20 feet).
a. The dog must lie down beside the handler.b. The handler will simulate reading a book while the dog
is lying down.
c. The dog MUST have his back to the children.
Testing requirements are subject to change withoutnotice.