Sit Baci Sit

17 Jul

You have probably heard of many different types of therapy  such as physical therapy, psychotherapy or even art therapy. But have you heard of pet therapy?

 What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disasters.

My dog Baci and I are part of The Delta Society. The Delta Society is a national non-profit organization that helps people live healthier and happier lives by incorporating therapy, service and companion animals into their lives.  Baci and I have been volunteering for 2 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where we visit patients. The visit can be 2 minutes or 20. Some patients want to talk about their pets and some just want to pet Baci. Whatever it is, Baci always brings a smile to their faces

I recently interviewed Nancy George-Michalson, the NYC Pet Partners Program Coordinator, about her experience with pet therapy. Here is what she had to say:

 Question (Allison): What kind of pet do you volunteer with?

Answer (Nancy): I volunteer with an apricot Toy Poodle.

Question (Allison): What made you want to become a pet partner volunteer?

Answer (Nancy): I was sitting with my husband and our dog in the park when a man in a wheelchair asked if he could hold our dog. When he held our dog he smiled. Someone suggested our dog become a pet partner and so I looked into it.

Question (Nancy): What made you want to train Baci as a therapy dog?

Answer (Allison): Dog therapy was introduced at the hospital where I work  and I saw how much love and joy it brought to the patients.

Question (Allison): What makes a dog a good Pet Partner?

Answer (Nancy): Your dog should be friendly, reliable and predictable, know basic commands and enjoy interacting with people.

 Question (Allison):  Are there any restrictions?

Answer (Nancy): The dog has to be over 1 year old and has to have lived with you for 6 months. For instance, if you rescue a 3 year old dog, the dog still has to have lived in your home for 6 months before you apply to be a pet partner. However- any dog – rescue, mixed breed or pure bred can become a pet partner.

Question (Allison): How do you become a registered pet partner?

Answer (Nancy): Every registered pet partner has to take a course and pass an evaluation. There are three ways to take The Delta Society course.

  •  1)    Take a one day, 8 hour workshop without your dog
  • 2)    Complete an at home course
  • 3)    Complete a multiple day workshop and evaluation with your pet partner

Question (Allison): If you want your dog to become a pet therapy dog what are the next steps you should take?

Answer (Nancy): You should go to and click on “becoming a pet partner”. If you live in the NYC area you can contact one of these two great resources

Michelle Siegel at 75th and Paws 
234 E 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
Telephone. 212-717-5444 /646-657-1265
Deborah Green at Bideawee
410 East 38th Street New York, NY 10016

Telephone: 212.532.4455

 Thank you Nancy! If you want any other information you can also contact me. (Baci is not good with email).

Want more information on therapy dogs? Check out this great website


4 Responses to “Sit Baci Sit”

  1. Jamie July 18, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Loved your post. My 90 pound Doberman would not be a candidate!

  2. alison nakash July 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    When my dad was in rehab I brought my maltese and very loved her. Dogs always make everyone smile and give unconditional love.

  3. laraine levy July 19, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    I wish I had a dog to bring smiles onto your patients!

  4. Cynthia August 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Great article on therapy dogs, Allison. Thanks for posting a link to Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc.

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