Therapy Dogs & Their Handlers
Love can be shown in all sorts of ways. One of the purest forms of love comes from dogs, who are happy to bring joy to people. This is why I was so excited to be capturing the love therapy dogs have, with a future therapy dog, Maisie.
Maisie is a 7-month-old golden retriever puppy whose purpose in life will be to bring joy to people. She is being raised by my studio assistant, Katelynn who is also a therapy dog evaluator for the K-9 Caring Angels Therapy Dog team!
Therapy Dogs In The Public Eye
What exactly do therapy dogs do? Therapy dogs and their handlers volunteer their time to help others in need. A Therapy dog’s job is to go around to various places such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and fire stations to bring comfort and smiles. This is why they need to have not only a sweet temper but also exceptional obedience. They are among the first to give emotional aid when tragedy strikes.
These dogs and their handlers must also be able to be confident and calm during stressful situations. Take visiting a fire station when suddenly the sirens go off, for example. If the dogs were not properly trained it could lead to disaster if they got scared.
Working Vs. Pet Dogs
Just because a dog does a specific job doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a moment behind the camera! Working dogs, such as therapy or service dogs are trained to do specific tasks and normally should only be addressed when given permission to do so. Setting up a photography session with your working dog gives them a chance to experience the same spotlight that normal pet dogs get to enjoy.
Katelynn also brought her Australian Cattle dog, Jax during her and Maisie’s sessions. Unlike Maisie, Jax is not specifically trained to do any sort of work. It was clear when working between which dog was the one normally in the spotlight. While Jax happily bounced around both in front of and behind the camera, Maisie typically sat poised and proper waiting for direction. But don’t let Maisie fool you either, she sure had her puppy moments where she just wanted to play!
The Bond Between Handlers and Dogs
Unlike dogs training to be service animals, therapy dogs stay with the owners that put in the effort training them. This makes it important to have a close bond with your dog. Katelynn and Maisie were no exception, and it was a delight to get to see how much mutual love they had for one another. Such a smile coming from both dog and handler can only be achieved with a strong bond.
Without having a good understanding of one another, it would be impossible to get a dog to therapy level standards. The dogs look to their owners for guidance and instruction, and Maisie was a prime example. She would sit ever so patiently and wait for Katelynn to tell her where to sit next. And she did it with a wagging tail. It also makes my life as a photographer much easier when I know that a dog is in tune with their owner as it means they will listen better and be easier to pose.
The Difference Between Puppies & Older Dogs
If you’ve ever tried to snap a picture of your dog, you may already know how hard of a task it can be! Older dogs tend to be slower and hold a sit longer making them easier subjects than puppies. Think about a moment when you’ve tried to hold a puppy; how long did it take before the little one was struggling to be let free. Their attention span is similar to that of a squirrel, so you must be ready for the split second when you have their undivided attention.
I could see the difference when photographing Jax and Maisie. While Maisie sat beautifully and waited for her next pose, she lost focus easily as she’s still incredibly young. Jax, on the other hand, could stare into the lens all day. Both dogs helped create beautiful images that will last a lifetime!
Tamara Knight has helped many beautiful families and business in Orlando.
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