More About Me- Winston the therapy dog

Winston is a 3 year old Irish doodle that became a therapy dog in 2022. Here’s a little more about his story and journey to becoming a therapy dog.

In picking a dog to join our family, we wanted two things: a dog that I could train to be a therapy dog and a dog to go on runs with my husband. I also knew I wanted a dog who didn’t shed so clients who had allergies would not be bothered. In my research, I found that Irish setters are GREAT family dogs and poodles are known for their intelligence and train-ability. Most dogs that are crossed with a poodle don’t shed, so the combination of these two breeds made for a PERFECT therapy dog!

Winston was born October 1st, 2020 on a little farm in Honey Grove, Texas. My husband and I drove out to Honey Grove when the litter was about 7 1/2 weeks old to meet the male puppy with the red collar. When we got there Winston was the one in the corner hiding behind a tree while all the other pups were surrounding our feet asking for attention. We walked over to Winston and he shyly came out from behind the tree. My husband picked him up and within a few minutes, Winston was starting to warm up to us by nuzzling my husband’s neck and giving him kisses. After that, we knew this was the dog for us and we were able to take him home that evening!

Even as a puppy, Winston has proven to be very obedient and easily trainable. We immediately started working with him off leash in our front yard to get him used to voice commands instead of relying on a tug of the leash since he would be off leash at the office with me. Since we were outside a lot, Winston also got to interact with the kids in our neighborhood. He was SO gentle with them and even listened when they would copy the commands we practiced with him.

Once we did all the training we could at home, we took Winston to What A Great Dog in Frisco to help complete his training. He completed group manners classes and passed the Canine Good Citizen exam. The exam featured a series of 10 obedience tests/challenges, where the dog cannot fail a single test. The exam is designed to ensure a dog behaves in a calm manner around humans and animals in a variety of situations. For example, dogs must walk calmly on a loose leash, come to the owner when called, ignore distractions when commanded, and remaining calm when the owner walks out of the room.

After he achieved that certification, Winston went on to complete a 6 week Therapy Dog training class. In this class, Winston was able to get more comfortable around different types of scenarios he might encounter at work (i.e., people in wheelchairs, kiddos loving all over him, ears/tail/paw being touched or pulled, how to resist balls that look like fun to play with, etc). As of Nov 2022 Winston completed his training and is a certified therapy dog!

It’s so fun to see Winston in action during sessions with clients. When people first walk in, he loves to receive a few back scratches before session starts. He often will either lay on the couch next to them or lay on the rug on the floor. Winston has a pretty good sense of when someone is getting upset (even at home) and will go sit next to someone on his own or by my command. When a client is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, Winston is a great resource to help shift their focus and ground them back to the present either by petting him or resting their hand on him and focusing on his breathing rhythm. He sometimes will provide some comedic relief with his goofy personality as well!

Just like everyone else, Winston has a specific job to do at work but at home he gets to relax, unwind, and do his favorite things! Some of Winston’s hobbies including going for runs, playing soccer with my husband, going on long walks, having play dates with other dogs in the neighborhood, getting booty scratches, and getting fed snacks from his human sibling! Winston is one of the most gentle, loving dogs and I couldn’t imagine home life or work life without him!

therapy dog