Thursday, June 26, 2014


Yesterday Norman passed his Therapy Dog test! Our evaluator and head of the program was super nice. She seemed to really enjoy Norman and was very proud after he passed, telling everyone who stopped to pet him about his accomplishment. She seemed genuinely impressed every time he reacted to each test item exactly as she described he should.

To start things off, he rolled over in hopes of a belly rub, of course not knowing us humans had something more serious in mind for the morning. Once we got him right side up, he dolled out kisses in reaction to almost every thing she did. Luckily Norman's kisses are not neurotic and rapid-fire but more slow, methodical and endearing.

When she surprised him by pinching his butt he turned around and licked the air, hoping her hand would come meet his tongue. When she grabbed his cheeks and stared him in the eyes he licked her face. When she squeezed him around the neck he tried to reach around to lick her, getting the air again instead. When she pulled out a hair he licked her hand. When she brushed him he licked her arm. When she rubbed him with a cane, he licked the cane. When she pinched him between the toes he licked her hand. When she approached him with the walker he licked it and then licked her hand. When she held him off the ground, he reached up and licked her face. When she dropped a metal can on the ground he went over to lick it. When she opened the umbrella in his face he stepped back, then walked up to it and licked it. And so on...

We did the test in a parking lot so the evaluator was able to enlist strangers throughout to see how he was with new people. He received pets on the head from of a couple big work men, licked the hand of an old lady who walked by with a cane, sat in the lap of another lady and licked the faces of couple giggly kids.

And he took it upon himself to lie down and stare off into the breeze any time we talked for more than a couple minutes. The hardest part was probably leave it because the evaluator used dog toys instead of food. We've practiced a lot with food so he's got that down but those new(used) toys looked oh so sniffable. He had his eyes on them but didn't try to touch them and that was good enough. Good news is I don't think there will be too many of those on our visits.

The last test item was to walk by 2 different dogs and ignore them while we shook hands. He did seem pretty eager to meet them when he saw them(he even tilted his head at the little one) but he listened to a sit and watch and then walked by like a gentleman.

In the end, the evaluator checked off Unconditionally Accepted which means that he is accepted to the program with no further training or restrictions needed! She also said he is the first Pit Bull in their program and she was very excited because she knows how sweet they are.

I actually think Kaya could have passed the test because she has a very solid temperament, great obedience and loves attention from strangers but I know she is way too ADD and energetic to actually be a good Therapy she'll remain my own personal Therapy Dog;)

He also needed a vet evaluation and I was actually able to get him in later that afternoon. She had to check out his health, rate his disposition and acceptance of being handled. I was a bit worried when a dog across the hall started barking and shrieking, while at the same time another dog started yelping and throwing himself at the other side of a door joining our rooms. Norman put his ears back, looked around and whined a bit but forgot all about it when presented with a treat:) Norman actually finds the vet's office more exciting than almost anywhere else with all the smells and attention(perhaps on par with the pet store) but he left a good impression and passed that test as well.

I was so proud and excited that I ran straight to Whole Foods and bought him a steak and some raw bones to enjoy later (of course Kaya got her share too). I can't wait to go on our first visit!

Would your dog be more like a Kaya or a Norman...or something else?

Related Posts:
Norman's 1st Therapy Visit!
Norman: The Heart Stealer 
Norman's Therapy Mission
Norman: The Perfect Advocate
Norman's Adoption Story


  1. YAY! That's excellent news and well done. Sounds like a great reward :-)

  2. YAY NORMAN!!! SO happy for you BOTH! It's such an accomplishment - and to be the first pitbull! As we said yesterday, Tess is a pretty good TD because she's so mellow - much like Norman nothing really ruffles her feathers. Ed is a great dog and so attentive to people - but he doesn't always like everyone and is WAY too energetic to be a good TD.

    1. Ya, I think a lot of dogs are calm enough but too aloof or friendly enough but too hyper or calm and friendly but nervous or reactive so it's a very rewarding to find a dog with the right combo!

  3. So awesome! He seems like the perfect candidate. You know what's interesting though? We had a lab mix at work that could not pass the therapy dog test because she was a licker - so maybe the rules are different from state-to-state? Her evaluator told the handler that licking was unacceptable when visiting hospitals because of germs and strange. Other than that, she's perfect!

    Glad that Norman is going to brighten the day of so many people!

    1. I thought about it being an issue but that is who he is and I wasn't going to train him not to lick or something. This is a small organization though and although the test items were the same used by TDI and Delta (our evaluator also does CGC tests) I suppose they get to choose what characteristics are ok or not in dogs.

      Norman has a great read on people and seems so know whether they just want to pet him or if he should lick them. Too bad about that dog, maybe they could try another organization. There were about 10 to choose from just in my area. I could understand the germ issue for critically ill people but for any others I don't see the problem. Dogs carry germs like anyone else even without licking!

  4. Congrats you guys, this is awesome!!!!!

  5. I'm in the "something else" category. :) My dog needs therapy. But I still adore her. :)

  6. What a sweetheart! Rio test for his CGC next week and then onto our therapy dog prep class! He is still working on calming because he does love people so much that sometimes he shows it a little too much, haha. And he is also my little 'licker'. Congrats!

  7. Wow, that is so exciting and incredible! Congratulations Norman! I'm afraid Fozzie would fail with flying colors...which is why we got him (no one else would take him :)) I still find him to be one of the most sensitive, loving, and therapeutic dogs I've ever met...but he's definitely no Norman!

  8. I did not doubt this outcome for a second.

    For all that Silas is the anti-Norman, he also does pretty well at the vet. In hindsight, I think the fact that we were there once a month for his first year was really helpful.