beautiful pictures, and so recognizable!
As soon as we got Lela as a pup I saw her potential as a therapy dog - she just brings a smile to the face of everyone she meets.
Did you do specific training with Kipawa? I can't seem to find a suitable program here in the Netherlands.
Kipawa did do training classes, but what I believe was more important was me setting regular at home training sessions. We train for 10-15 minutes. If Kipawa doesn't get it in that period, he has a 5 minute break. We will go on and on with this pattern until he understands and does what I want him to do. I'm really fair, but I am persistent.
Some of the hospitals here allow you to bring in small dogs without a designation of therapy dog. When I first started working with Kipawa, I took advantage of this. We would just go into the main floor and walk around. He is used to medical equipment, because my husband uses a wheelchair. I did this 3 times a week. Anyone that approached us was allowed to touch and pet Kipawa - children too, as he loves them. After I felt that he was okay with the main floor, we would go to a floor where people were not in critical condition. Even though the hospital allows dogs, we would go to the nursing station and introduce ourselves and ask if we could say hello to people. After all the nurses pet and hugged Kipawa, we'd go into the rooms and I would just say, "would you like some company right now? Would you like to meet my therapy dog"?
There are some people that didn't want to visit with us - after all, it is a hospital. But those were few and far between. Therapy work is so rewarding. It's amazing what a dog can do for someone ill, someone feeling down and out, or someone who has lost a connection with the world. I get the greatest gift of all - bringing a smile to someone's face. Often Kipawa will sit on a lap if the person is in a chair. That's only if they allow it. If they are in bed and they want it, he will hop up onto the bed and lay with them. There are interesting things that happen that are beyond me figuring out for sure - sometimes Kipawa will just not want to go into a certain room. I try again, but if he refuses, we go to the next room. In this situation I really believe he knows more than I do, so I then follow his lead.
Why don't you find out where a hospital or care home is near you, and then ask if they allow dogs to visit. They might say only certified dogs, and then you might not be able to go into the hospital, but there are always people sitting outside the hospitals or care homes that would love to visit with a dog. Just make sure that you are really confident that you have full control over Lela.
Here are a couple of books I bought via www.amazon.com. There are others, but I have these two. Maybe you have access to ordering them. I really liked them. Good luck with the therapy work and don't give up! You will find it so rewarding for yourself as well!