General Information About Becoming a Member
Submit an application, and once approved you will be added to our waiting list. Shortly thereafter, a class notification will be sent. Classes are held at the Bellaire United Methodist Church on Tuesday evenings (February – November) from 7-9pm. Leashes should be four(4) feet or shorter and please bring a soft dog brush and all of your furry companion’s necessities.
Once approved, members will be able to access the Member’s Only section on the site. This section provides additional information on membership rules, forms, and more.
Pet Therapy Training Classes
- Pet therapy training classes welcome pets of any age following their first rabies shots. However, pets must be at least six(6) months old to receive certification. The sooner training starts, the better, especially for strong breeds like Boxers, Bulldogs, Rotties, Great Danes, and Mastiffs.
- You will practice commands like “Watch Me” (very important command), “Leave It,” “Sit,” “Down,” “Stay,” “Come,” and “Heel.”
- You will practice walking your pet near other people and other dogs, and being around many other pets, including cats that may be in class and will occasionally be encountered on visits.
- You will practice greeting other people with their dogs and asking if you can pet their dogs. With the other dogs, you will pet, brush, tug on ears and tails, and pick up their feet. Others will do the same to your dog.
- You can use treats for your dog, and keep a supply in your pocket or fanny pack. Use small, human-grade treats like Cheerios.
- You will practice being in the center as the other pets and people crowd around you, because we often have to crowd into elevators.
- You will be exposed to items and noises that may be encountered on a visit (wheelchairs, walkers, loud noises).
After Completing Classes
All animals must be screened and invited to test and join. Once the Director is confident that you and your pet have mastered the required skills, we will schedule a date for your test. You will test in a small group at another location. During the test, in addition to the other skills, you will leave the area and leave your dog with someone else for 3 minutes to be sure the dog does not mind being separated from its owner. The list of CGC test items is at the bottom of our “contact us” web page. Please plan to make at least one monthly visit to one of our associated facilities, starting as soon as you and your pet get certified with us.
What to Expect on Visits
- After you have passed the certification testing you can start visiting.
- Our group has visits arranged at nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living and rehab places. Most of our facilities have no special requirements, but some need you to take a TB test, flu shot, attend orientation, require a certain dress code, require their own ID, or run a background check.
- Some facilities pair a single animal with a single patient and their therapist for physical therapy.
- Tricks are not necessary – most of our facilities are happy with a pet that just likes to be petted.
- We are also often invited to one-time activities that can be lots of fun, such as school visits or special activities.
- We encourage you to dress up your pet for all visits. Residents love this. Dress-up may be as simple as a neckerchief.
- Dogs must obey a “WATCH ME” command. The “Watch Me” command is a must and is essential for the management of your dog, especially around other dogs. It is useful in many circumstances. It must take the dog’s focus off of something else and back on to you.
- Teach your dog a “LEAVE IT” command.
AKC and Therapy Dog (THD) Title Information
Faithful Paws is authorized by the AKC for its visits to count for the new Therapy Dog (THD) titles. You must make 50 pet therapy visits and have them documented on your log sheet. There are now several levels of titles for different numbers of visits. Even if it is not already AKC-registered, you can document visits while getting the dog registered, but it will have to be registered before applying for any THD title. Any dog can be registered with AKC, either purebred or as a “PAL” (purebred alternative listing) or All-American mixed breed. If your dog is a purebred, it may already be AKC-registered.
You will receive information and log sheets when you join us. Logging visits or getting THD titles is not required, but an option for our members. On each visit, you will need to remember to ask the team leader to sign your form.
Also, if your dog is AKC-registered, you can send in the CGC test to AKC, and your dog will have CGC included in its AKC titles. The THD titles your dog earns with us can also be included with the AKC.
For additional information, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Click here to apply to become a member of Faithful Paws!