Most everyone thinks their dog is special. They are another family member that often times connects on a personal level deeper than any human can offer. Of course, each dog has its own merits that make it unique. Common inherent attributes of dogs seem to be they are born innocent, loving, and of course, cuddly. They have a sense of knowing and a wide range of emotions. They are amazingly intuitive, and always seem to know when we've had a bad day and need to be comforted.
In the last segment, we met Ann and Rocko. She is a Canine Therapy Corps volunteer who brings her pal, Rocko, to see people of all ages suffering from issues ranging from genetic disorders to the terminally ill.
This week I would like to introduce you to Daniel and Amy. They are the owners of Bark Avenue Playcare. Daniel is a Certified Evaluator for Canine Therapy Corps located at 1959 W. Fulton in Chicago, IL.
Training is just one of the services they offer. You can bring your 4-legged loved one for a day of playing. Grooming, boarding, and even pet portrait services are offered. Additionally, they are adamant in being pro-active in saving homeless dogs. They have helped save over 300 lives since 2002.
My visit to their location was quite unique. They are not a fancy, upscale, brick and mortar establishment. In fact...after being buzzed in the first door, I noticed the second door entrance was a recycled vintage wooden door with the old keyhole on the hinged side. Points for saving the environment.
I asked Daniel some questions to give you an insight of who they are.
Q: Why did you start up Bark Avenue. Explain briefly what you did before you started up.
Daniel: My business partner and I are both dog lovers. We both had corporate backgrounds. She was a graphic designer and I have a military/medical background. We both wanted to get out of the corporate world and build something that we enjoyed going to every day...and we wanted to bring our dogs to work.
Q: How did you get involved with Canine Therapy Corps?
Daniel: We have been involved with CTC for about a decade. We met Callie, the Director by absolute chance. She stopped us on the street to say hi to our now deceased puppy, Gunnar. That was before she ever thought she would work in her current field. You could say that Gunnar changed her life.
Q: What do you get out of training Therapy Dogs? As far as enjoyment, pleasure, accomplishment.
Daniel: The dogs love the work and the people they work with get way more out of it than we ever realize at the time, based on the letters they write after. It's a great feeling to be helping improve the lives of people and dogs at the same time.
Q: What was the toughest training situation for Therapy Dogs?
Daniel: Well, we once had a little dog named Harry (name has been changed to protect the innocent, LOL) who had to take the test five times before he passed. He was a great little dog, but he always did some little thing to fail the test...and it was a different thing...at each test. That made it difficult to isolate and work on problem areas. He finally passed and we were overjoyed that everyone finally succeeded.
Q: What dogs do you feel are the best for being Therapy Dogs?
Daniel: No particular breed, but we look for confident, friendly but not too excitable dogs that want to engage and want to learn. The rest is all teaching behaviors. I do have to point out that the handler is 50% of the team. A person who doesn't learn to handle their dog will have a difficult time with the test, even if they have a great dog.
Q: What are your future plans for Bark Avenue Playcare?
Daniel: We would like to continue to provide excellent training and a safe place for people to send their pets. Their future plans include improving their facility and bringing on talented new trainers to offer even more options to enrich the lives of dogs in the area.
Bark Avenue Playcare Contact Info
Read Part II: Therapy Dogs Unconditional Love Part 2: Meet Ann and Rocko
Read More From My Cranium By David Herman