Avista Animal Helpers Therapy Dog Program of Louisville, Colorado

Welcome and thank you for your interest in the Avista Animal Helpers program!

We are looking for the following traits in a dog:
(1) a dog that is very calm and not distracted by unexpected noises or objects,
(2) a dog that is obedient and looks to you for direction, and
(3) a dog that consistently loves to be petted by a variety of people in a variety of situations: i.e., the first person to interact with the dog is as important and receives as much affection as the 10th.

Dogs must be at least 2 years of age and adult handlers a minimum of 18 years of age.  Successful completion of a basic obedience program, while not required, is highly recommended.  Therapy dogs must be able to walk calmly on a loose lead.  It is essential that your dog know basic commands (sit, stay, come, down) and be “comfortably controlled” by you in a variety of settings (in class, in a room with a few people, in a crowd, walking with you in an unfamiliar environment, around other dogs, etc.).

All dogs who participate in Avista Animal Helpers must be healthy and free from parasites, disease, infections, and illness.  Participation in the program requires that your dog meet the following health requirements:

  • Pass a general physical exam annually, performed by your veterinarian
  • Pass a Vet Behavioral Exam arranged by Avista Hospital
  • Be rabies immunization as prescribed by state law
  • Be in compliance with other immunization requirements as prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Be free from internal and external parasites

:  Animals that have been fed any raw or dehydrated (but otherwise raw) foods, chews, or treats of animal origin (such as pig ears) within the past 90 days will not be able to participate in the program until their pet has been off of the raw or dehydrated food for at least 90 days and continues to stay off of the raw or dehydrated food while participating in the program.

Animal Helpers are hospital volunteers. Handlers must attend the hospital’s volunteer orientation program and complete a health check and background check.

Therapy Dog Registration: In order to participate in our program, you and your dog must be registered with one of the three national organizations that are recognized by Good Samaritan Medical Center.

If you are not currently registered with one of the above organizations, please do your research and complete the registration process after making your application below.  In order to be placed on the waiting list for an upcoming class, you must be registered before you can be invited to class.  Class invitations usually are done 2 months before class so you need to be registered with one of the three Therapy Dog Associations above before that time. 

Note:  Our TDBC Leadership group has several members who are also tester/observers for Alliance of Therapy Dogs.  If you would like some assistance getting started with the testing, please contact us through this website.

Therapy Dog Classes:  Attending the Avista Student Class is mandatory.  Our class is not a training class for dogs.  It is a class procedure implementing the 3E concept of Evaluation, Education and Enrollment.   This 3E program is specific to Avista Hospital therapy dogs and includes the TDBC learning points so you can enroll at other hospitals and facilities.  This “7 Step” program includes:

  1.  (Evaluation) Validation/implementation of you and your dog being registered with a national Therapy Dog Assn.
  2.  (Evaluation) Validation/proof that your dog is current on Rabies Vaccine, Wellness Exam and Negatifve Fecal test.
  3.  (Evaluation) A student group Vet Behavioral Exam at our hospital by one of Avista’s trusted Veterinarians.
  4.  (Education) Approximately one-hour On-Line training module learning about TDBC Common Items with Quiz.
  5.  (Education) Five-hour classroom session (on a Saturday) learning important information about visiting with your dog.
  6.  (Enrollment) Two-hour hospital visit for human enrollment, photos, fitting of unforms and badges, walk through with a program Lead.
  7.  (Enrollment) One-hour hospital volunteer orientation visit to enroll you and your dog as Avista Hospital Volunteers.

After successfully completing the 7 steps above, you’re ready to take on a permanent visiting schedule at Avista!

The Avista program Leadership will assist you as needed and will help by giving you tips for visiting safely and effectively. The job of the Leadership is to make sure you and your dog can visit in a safe controlled manner at the hospital. There are usually one or more classes a year.  Some dogs find through evaluation process that this is not something they really want to do while other dogs will thrive.  The cost of the class is $50, payable to the hospital, which covers materials (this includes dog vest and class expense) and helps support the program.

PLEASE NOTE:  Avista Hospital is a drug free workplace including the use of medicinal marijuana products.

Volunteers and staff are required to get a flu shot each year.   If you choose not to get a flu shot, you will be required to take a leave of absence during flu season (November 1st thru March 31st). Please take this into consideration before making the commitment to volunteer with Avista Animal Helpers. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY.

At the hospital, an average session of pet therapy visits will run 1 ½ to 2 hours.   A typical schedule is one day a week.  Some teams work every other week.



Following is a link to an excellent article by Patricia B. McConnnell, PhD, entitled “Dog Assisted Therapy:  Is Your Dog a Good Fit?”  We highly recommend you read this article before submitting your application for therapy dog work:

If you would like to make application to be a therapy dog team at Avista Hospital in Louisville, please click on the following Hospital Application Form link which will take you to the Hospital application page.  If you would like to make application to another hospital(s), please read about their requirements first before selecting them on the Hospital application:

DOGS ONLY, please

Hospital Application Form