Wendy Bair, foreground, with her dog Plinkee, and Mary McMullin, with her dog Sissy Rose, are forming the first registered therapy dog organization in Monroe County.
If you're healthy, clean, have an easy temperament, get your nails done and ears cleaned regularly, take the occasional good bath, can sit, and walk on a loose lead, you might just have what it takes to be a therapist.
Oh, and you have to be a dog.
LaSalle resident Wendy Bair and Monroe resident Mary McMullin have founded "P.S. We Love You, Therapy Dogs," a Monroe-based non-profit organization formed in December to bring these four-legged therapists to schools, libraries, elderly care centers, and hospitals across the county.
The "P.S." stands for their two dogs - Plinkee, a 7-year-old cockapoo, and Sissy Rose, an 8-year-old maltese.
"We wanted to put their names in the title, so that long after we're all gone, the founding dogs will be remembered," Ms. McMullin said.
"And hopefully in 50 years, when I'm finally in a nursing home, somebody will come and visit me," said Ms. Bair. "Mary and I have made a lifelong commitment to this program. But it's not just about us. It's about bringing people who are mixed breed, pure bred, young and old together."
So far, these four are the club's only members, but they are hoping to attract more than 50 canines within the next five years.
Ms. Bair and Ms. McMullin are equal-opportunity employers, willing to take any type of dog for their organization.
"There are a lot of different kinds of therapy, so you just need to find out what your dog is the happiest doing and make sure you are happy doing it too," Ms. Bair said.
Sissy Rose, for example, is a lover. She just likes to sit on the lap all the time and give kisses. So, she's better at nursing homes.
Plinkee, on the other hand, is more the show off. She likes to do tricks - great at schools.
Ms. Bair had Plinkee dance a bit in her purple tutu for the kids at Frenchtown-Dixie Branch Library on Monday during a presentation of the new program.
She also showed off Plinkee's intellectual grandeur. Plinkee can count, at least to three, and read.
Ms. Blair held out three fingers and Plinkee barked three times. She then held her arms in a triangle above her head.
"Plinkee, what's on top of this building?"
"Rough!" Plinkee said.
Eight girls from Brownie Troop 985 of Newport, Mich., got down on their hands and knees during the presentation, forming a bridge. Plinkee then hopped up and walked across their backs.
"At least it wasn't a 90-pound collie," Ms. Blair said.
Ms. Bair said the two women hope they have enough people registered by May to have the club's first official meeting.
Therapy dog hopefuls must first register their dogs with a national dog therapy organization to get insurance in case anything happens while on the job.
Interested dog owners can contact Plinkee's mom, Ms. Blair, at (734) 731-0047.
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