Although the Manuels had been thinking about training Sadie as a bereavement therapy dog for some time, they were missing an essential puzzle piece.
It was provided by Joshua Miller, a family counselor at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf. Miller has been at Trinity since the summer.
Before working for Trinity, Miller worked with animals in various capacities. He was a trainer at Dogtown Maryland in Brandywine and he worked for about 31
2 years a t Applejack K9 Academy in Charlotte Hall , where he was first a volunteer and then a full-time employee charged with the dogs’ care. Miller said he thinks working at both places put him on his current path.
Although Miller had no experience in the training or certification of potential therapy dogs such as Sadie, the Manuels thought his background working with animals would enable him to properly care for and train their dog.
Sadie has not undergone the training process for long but has adapted quickly.
“I began training Sadie in October of last year,” Miller said. “She lives on a farm, and she’d never had too much experience on the leash, but being of such a nature that she just wants to be involved, her training has excelled very fast.”
Miller is working with Sadie through Therapy Dogs International to get her accredited. There are strict guidelines.
For her certification as a therapy dog, Sadie will need to complete at least 50 visits to area businesses. Part of Sadie’s certification from Therapy Dogs International also relies upon the attainment of the Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club.
Sadie’s Canine Good Citizen test is scheduled for Wednesday. There are 10 areas with requirements that Sadie must satisfy, including walking through a crowd, responding well to other animals and strangers, not becoming distracted for too long, being well groomed and being pleasant and calm in a public environment.
After Sadie has earned the award, getting her Therapy Dogs International certification will be much easier. According to the Therapy Dogs International Web site, there is a good bit of overlap for the testing standards for both the Canine Good Citizen award and TDI certification: The only further requirements for TDI certification not seen in the good citizen award standards are reactions to medical equipment, peoples’ illnesses and children, along with giving a friendly greeting and ignoring any food dropped. Her test for Therapy Dogs International is not yet scheduled.
Sadie made her public debut for her training process at the Dec. 17 Christmas Tree of Remembrance ceremony at Trinity. Miller said she was exposed to a crowd of more than 200 people, and did “very well.”
After her success there, Miller said, it became clear Sadie could handle a larger crowd, and so he decided to take her to the Charles County Chamber of Commerce’s January mixer Jan. 5 in La Plata.