Karina assists in therapy

Karina with J.P.

Our skilled companion dog is being put to work.

As things slowly return to normal in the Cousins’ household, Karina is getting involved in speech therapy.

Our speech therapist, Amy Thomas, is creating a whole section of J.P.’s Dynavox to tell Karina’s story, and he’ll eventually use his device to give the dog some commands.

It was something that we discussed at our team training at Canine Companions for Independence before we ended up in the hospital.

Karina therapy
Karina assists J.P.’s therapists at the hospital.

Our trainers at Canine Companions said it’s more of a process than just something that Karina will understand off the bat.

J.P. will eventually issue the command on the Dynavox, and Paige or I as facilitators will echo the command, and if Karina doesn’t respond, we would issue a correction. J.P. will never issue corrections to the dog because he’s supposed to be the best buddy.

Meanwhile, Paige and I are preparing to wrap up our training at Canine Companions next week. It kind of feels like we’re going back to school. We have several quizzes to complete and a final exam.

We’re ready to start hitting the books again Thursday in hopes of having everything completed before we meet the trainer Monday.

We’re very excited about finishing this up and getting our public certification for Karina. She’s been a great dog in the meantime, and I sometimes feel like we’ve put her in a state of limbo by not being fully educated on how to handle her.

I certainly have worked to keep her up-to-date on all the commands I can remember because we’ll have to handle her properly in public to get our Assistance Dogs International certification, and that should happen Tuesday at Altamonte Mall. Wish us luck.

We’ll also see our occupational therapist later this week for the first time. She was very interested from the beginning to put Karina to work, and J.P. should begin doing some of Karina’s grooming tasks soon. The boy is going to take on some responsibility. That makes me proud.

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