John O'Hurley (from Seinfeld) Introduces Operation Therapy
Operation Therapy is a community-based organization, starting with the training program in which local residents can not only learn to care for the animals, but also become knowledgeable trainers as they work alongside seasoned experts. Most of this training work is done with miniature horses and dogs, but from time to time other animals who are deemed suitable for therapy can be trained.
Once an animal is trained, it begins its working life within the community for the betterment of everyone. Newly-trained therapy animals are regularly taken out to interact with people in neighborhoods, hospitals, elder care facilities, and any other location where people may benefit from time spent with an affectionate and disciplined animal. Of course, they are always escorted by a trained handler/ambassador from the local community.
Children, Elderly and Veterans
The goal of our trained animal program is to serve those who can benefit the most from an interaction with a loving horse or dog. Our experience has shown that children, the elderly, and veterans get the most out of the experience, so we actively seek out relationships with local elder care facilities, children’s hospitals, and veteran centers to offer our therapy services – free of charge. Often we also find that many of those in need choose to live at home or are not able to be in a managed facility for other reasons. In those cases, we are happy to make special arrangements for an animal to visit a private residence, also at no charge. We don’t want anyone to ever be excluded from the joy a visit from one of our animals provides.
Operation Therapy also understands that other local charities may be able to use therapy animals to help achieve their goals and, when appropriate, our fully trained therapy animals will be available to assist those in need.
Training dogs for therapy or service takes thousands of hours. The most effective training takes place when the dog is only 5 weeks old until it is about 4 months old. During this time socialization can be perfected through a specialized program developed by our trainers.
In order to ensure that our dogs are the most productive, we will always breed them for optimal health and temperament. Any dog that goes through training and does not meet our rigorous standards will be removed from the program and placed in a loving home, where a family can reap the benefits of that training to have a pet that is safe around children and others, including other pets.
We also seek to assist local animal shelters by providing training to their animals in order to make them more adoptable and less likely to be returned. By providing the benefit of quality training to local residents we also ensure that the community becomes filled with skilled trainers we can work with and who will help make the community itself better.
Operation Therapy’s community service starts with our trained miniature horses. Training of these gentle and intelligent creatures begins with getting the them to do simple tasks like walking through simple obstacles and learning mouth control, followed by potty training, a few simple tricks, and a very in depth process of desensitization to things like balloons, wheelchairs, walkers, hospital equipment, loud speakers, and any other items the horses would encounter in the real world while working as therapy animals.
In more advanced training, the horses get their first pair of gym shoes and go out into the town to walk down main streets and into various shops participating in our training program. Over time the miniature horses become a common site in the community, bringing pleasure and comfort to everyone they encounter.