As the founder of Fur Ball Story, people often ask me what exactly do we do, what are therapy dogs, and what is this Animal Assisted Therapy? Before I tell them what it is, I felt a need to tell them what it's not, by giving a real life example of course. So, after I started Fur Ball Story and started making a name for ourselves, a couple of other people started following the same road. In one of the instances I saw one organization which was conducting a program for increasing sensitivity towards animals in a school with various sort of animals such as birds, dogs, guinea pigs, and rabbits, only one problem with this - students were made to stand in a line and the interaction was a bit transactional as the animals were in their respective crates.
Some people’s opinion is that this is a good concept, no harm in making kids look at animals in crates, but makes no mistake that this is not an Animal Assisted Activity.
What Furballstory does is different from this is many ways, but allow me highlight two important aspects that of the above example which we should be wary of -
1. The animals in the cage were being tortured because a therapy animal needs to be trained and socialized. They also need to be desensitized towards touch, loud noises, big crowds, new spaces, other animals. A trained therapy animal would not need to be caged.
2. Allowing kids to interact with caged animals will lead to normalization of such a trend hence leading to more animal cruelty cases in the future. Kids being of impressionable age should stay away from such activities; on the other hand, legitimate Animal Assisted Therapy will help them understand empathy, responsibility and promotes sensitivity towards animals
Now, the dogs at Fur Ball Story, have been raised to work as therapy animals. They love humans as well as fellow dogs. They love it when people pet them and give them belly rubs. How, you ask? This is because when we choose a puppy, we conduct thorough background checks of the breeders/family, genetic history –to ensure his previous generations were absolutely and blindly loved by humans, and their temperament towards other animals is neutral. By doing this, we make sure that our dogs will always have full trust on everyone they meet. Thereafter, we train abiding by the basics of socialization and desensitize them towards various stimuli which might throw off an untrained dog. As the owner of FBS, I am personally responsible for the wellbeing of all my dogs and my staff is handpicked for their skills in training and their love for dogs.
To put it in simple words, if my dogs did not like what they're doing, then my work would make no sense.
If you are interested, here are links to a couple of articles corroborating the points I have made in this article.