Thank you for your interest in our program. The TAILS (Therapy Animals in Loving Service) program has been delivering smiles to patients, visitors, and staff at Longmont United Hospital (LUH) since 2002. More than 35 pet therapy teams currently visit our facilities at Longmont United Hospital and Homestead Adult Day Care.
We are looking for the following traits in a dog:
- A dog that is very calm and not distracted by unexpected noise or objects,
- A dog that is obedient and looks to you for direction, and
- 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. Handlers must be at least 18 years old unless accompanied by a parent who is also tested and registered. 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): therapydogs.com
- Pet Partners: 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 TAILS 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 Longmont United Hospital
Members of LUH TAILS are hospital volunteers. Handlers must attend the hospital’s volunteer orientation program, be interviewed by the Director of Volunteer Services, complete a TB test and get a background check. All volunteers and staff are required to get a flu shot each year. Volunteers must use hand sanitizer before visiting patients. You should complete the process of becoming a volunteer prior to attending the following training.
TRAINING AND ORIENTATION
Potential TAILS handlers are required to attend the hospital-sponsored therapy dog orientation. We conduct 3-4 of these sessions per year, frequently working with other 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 LUH. You must be a registered therapy dog team (see REQUIREMENTS above) in order to attend this training/orientation session.
Following this classroom orientation, your dog will have a Behavior Exam by one of our volunteer veterinarians. After successful completion of the Behavior Exam, TAILS volunteer staff will help your and your dog get started, with on-site orientation, demonstrations and observations. Additional costs after training will include: $18 for your volunteer shirt and $10 for annual volunteer dues. The cost of your dog’s cape is included in the $50 you paid for the training/orientation session.
A typical pet therapy session at the hospital may last 1-2 hours. During this time, a team may visit 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:
If you are interested in applying to a different Boulder County hospital therapy dog program, please go to the specific hospital page on this website and fill out the form there. DOGS ONLY, please.