From: Mogollon Rim News 9 March 2 - 15, 2012
Therapy Dog Offers Free Service to Residents of Heber-Overgaard
by Barbara Samples
There is a Certified Therapy Dog named Becka that lives with her trainer, Lynne Coffman, in our community. Becka needs to make 50 visits per year to maintain her Certified Therapy Dog status which she received last August. As you can tell from her picture, she is a beautiful tri-colored
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas. They can be used at schools to help children with reading disabilities. There’s a program called “Tail-Waggin’ Tutors”, where a child reads to the dog and it helps the child relax and feel comfortable with the activity. According to Lynne, therapy dogs have been used successfully in working with autistic children as well.
According to the website www.tdi-dog.org , a therapy dog must have certain innate abilities. These traits include an outstanding temperament, tolerates other animals, wants to visit people, loves children and gets along with other dogs. They don’t wear vests so as not to be confused with service dogs plus they want to be pet and loved on. They do wear a TDI bandana and a
special TDI tag on their collar.
First Becka needed to get the AKC Good Citizen Award which she sailed through. There’s a test of 10 things including 1) Accepting a friendly stranger, 2) Sitting politely for petting,
3) Appearance and grooming, 4) Out for a walk, 5) Walking through a crowd, 6) Sit and down on command and Staying in place, 7) Coming when called, 8) Reaction to another dog, 9) Reaction to distraction, and 10) Supervised separation.
After the Good Citizen Award, Becka had to pass the test to become a Certified Therapy Dog. She was put through a series of tests, such as subjecting her to lights and noises to see if she remained calm. One of the tests was to put her in the midst of children who were playing to see if she could stay focused and calm. When it came to the wheel chair test, Lynn said, “I said Becka this is Debbie (who was the test examiner), and Becka immediately put her head in Debbie’s lap without command. She passed that one with flying colors.”
Becka is used to passing muster as Lynne has had her involved in dog shows all over the US and Canada since she was a pup. Lynne and the love of her life Bernie, live with a total of five English Setters, all of which are, or will be soon, involved in dog shows. Lynne’s first English Setter was given to her when she was young as a gift from her uncle who raised field and show Setters. She loves her dogs. Lynne is also an ordained United Methodist minister, a certified counselor and in a past life, a trained entertainer. She has a love for people and especially connects with those who have a need. Working with Becka to help comfort those in need is for Lynne, a natural fit. Lynne and Bernie are both originally from Minnesota where they were childhood sweethearts. Life separated them for many years, but as fate would have it, they found each other again later in life and ended up in a cabin Bernie built in the beauty of the forests of Heber-Overgaard. Don’t you just love a happy ending? (sigh)
Lynne and Becka don’t charge for their service. It’s done on a totally volunteer basis. As mentioned earlier, Becka is expected to make 50 visits per year so she’s hoping to find lots of work in our community. Before her visit Becka will be bathed and groomed in preparation for her client(s). Lynne has a protocol she must follow in their preparation.
If you have a need or know anyone who may benefit from Becka’s therapeutic lovin’,
please contact Lynne at
(928) 535-4121 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You
can read about Lynne’s English Setters at