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Tail Waggers and the Alliance of Therapy Dogs


November 9, 2019

Since the Tail Waggers Group was founded in Bear Valley Springs by Molly Mackin and others, they have reached out in many ways to help the community. One of the most interesting branches of Tail Waggers is the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, which is associated with a national organization.

Therapy dogs are not the same as the well-known “service” dogs. Therapy dogs are owned by members of Tail Waggers and the national association and they pay visits to schools, senior rest homes and hospitals to brighten the lives of patients, residents, and school children. Children in schools, for instance, are encouraged to read to the dogs, thus improving their reading skills.

A team of seven Tail Waggers members make up our local Alliance chapter. These members are Molly Mackin, the club president (who just recently acquired her certification), Nilly Smith, Laurie Friesen, Joanie Hench, Mary Thompson and Melissa Aumen. Each of them has worked with their dogs to acquire certification. Michelle Clifton in the Lancaster/Palmdale area approves the certification. To be certified, the dogs and their humans have to have been through obedience training classes, agility training and other courses to make the dogs trustworthy in a crowd situation or one-on-one.

The first group event the Alliance team organized was in Bear Valley Springs at Cub Lake in September of this year. In this event, children were encouraged to pick a book from the array of books available and then read to one or more of the dogs. It was a trial run and the team was happy that people turned out and were interested in the program.

From that event, they went to Oktoberfest in Stallion Springs and had a great turnout. Over forty children came out that weekend to read to the dogs.

The Rotary Club of Tehachapi invited three of the members, Nilly Smith, Molly Mackin and Laurie Friesen, to address their meeting and talk about Tail Waggers and about the therapy dogs.

Not all members of the group attend each event; it depends upon availability. For instance, members have visited Mountain Vista Senior Care in Golden Hills, but only a couple of members show up with their dogs. They have also visited Tehachapi Hospital, Palmdale Library and a rehabilitation home in Lancaster called Well Springs.

Some members also visited Tehachapi High School on Career Day and talked to the students about the different careers that they can do with dogs. The veterinarian field is not the only way to go.

Debbie Papac, the BVSA Recreation Manager, is keen on working with the team to host a regular event at the Whiting Center in Bear Valley Springs. They are in the process of organizing it and more details will be coming soon. It should begin in January 2020.

All in all, this Alliance program is aiding many people, from encouraging children to read, to brightening the lives of shut-ins. Thank you to the team and to Tail Waggers for a great program.

If you want more information on this program, please contact Molly Mackin at (818) 512-9836.


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