The Boulder Community Health Canine Corps
Thank you for your interest in our program. The BCH Canine Corps has been delivering smiles to patients, visitors, and staff at Boulder Community Health since 2000. More than 35 pet therapy teams currently visit our facilities at Broadway, Boulder Community Foothills Hospital and campus, and the Tebo Family Medical Pavilion (Cancer Center).
We are looking for the following traits in a dog:
1) a dog that is very calm and not distracted by unexpected noise 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 settings … the first person to visit with your dog is as important and receives as much affection as the 10th.
Dogs must be at least 2 years old. Adult handlers must be at least 18 years old. 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, down, come) and be comfortably controlled by you in a variety of settings (in a room with a few people, in a crowd, around other dogs, walking with you in an unfamiliar environment).
You and your dog must be a registered therapy dog team with one of these nationally-recognized organizations in order to participate in our program:
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD)(formerly Therapy Dogs, Inc): therapydogs.com
- Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Society): petpartners.org
- Therapy Dogs International (TDI): tdi-dog.org
- If you are not currently registered with one of these organizations, please do your research and complete the registration process while you are on our wait list.You must be a registered team in order to proceed with this process. Many of our teams are registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and our volunteer staff members are Tester Observers for ATD.
Health and Wellness
All Canine Corps dogs must be healthy and free of parasites, disease, infections, and illness. Participation in this program requires that your dog:
- pass a general physical exam annually, performed by your personal veterinarian
- receive rabies vaccinations as prescribed by state law
- be in compliance with other immunization requirements as prescribed by your veterinarian
- be free from internal and external parasites
- pass a Veterinarian Behavioral Exam arranged by Boulder Community Health
Dogs who follow raw protein diets (raw or dehydrated but otherwise raw foods, chews, or treats of animal original) are not eligible to participate in this program.
Members of the BCH Canine Corps are hospital volunteers. Handlers must attend the hospital’s volunteer orientation program and complete a health check and a background check.
Volunteers and staff are required to get a flu shot each year.
Boulder Community Health is a drug-free workplace including the use of medical marijuana products.
TRAINING AND ORIENTATION
Potential BCH Canine Corps handlers are required to attend the hospital-sponsored therapy dog orientation. We conduct 3-4 of these sessions per year, frequently working with other the Boulder County hospitals. This is a half-day session where handlers learn, from experienced therapy dog teams, what this kind of work requires of us and our dogs and what it really means to be a therapy dog team in a hospital environment. Cost of this session is $50, payable to the hospital, which covers costs and helps support the program.
There is currently a wait list of applicants for the program at Boulder Community Health. You must be a registered therapy dog team (see REQUIREMENTS above) in order to attend this session.
Following this classroom orientation, teams will complete the hospital volunteer requirements. This includes the Veterinarian Behavioral Exam and some lab work for your dog, plus attendance at the hospital volunteer orientation, some lab work and a background check for you. All this is at no cost to you.
Once entry requirements have been completed, Canine Corps volunteer staff will help your and your dog get started, with on-site orientation, demonstrations and observations.
A typical pet therapy session at the hospital may last 1-2 hours. During this time, a team may visit 5-10 patients, as well as visitors and waiting rooms. Some teams visit once a week; others once every two weeks. We ask that our teams commit to at least two sessions per month.
IS THIS FOR YOUR DOG?
We find that not all dogs are suited for this kind of work. Nor are all handlers. Following is a link to an excellent article by Patricia McConnell, PhD, entitled “Dog Assisted Therapy: Is Your Dog a Good Fit?”. We strongly recommend you read this before submitting your application.
If you are interested in being placed on our waiting list for a future class, please fill out and submit the application form below:
The following form will be sent to the Boulder Community Health representatives only. If you want to apply to a different hospital therapy dog program, please go to the specific hospital page on this website and complete their form. DOGS ONLY, please.