The differences between Nik (our last resident) and Rufus are obvious and go well beyond the amount of space they take up on the couch.
Nik loved the dog park in our neighborhood, Rufus is not a big fan... actually he hates it and if I let him off his leash he goes running for the nearest exit. I tried to explain to him that we were the official adopters of the park, and that it was important we keep up appearances, but he was not the least bit persuaded.
Nik did not bark, he wailed. The poor guy had his vocal chords taken out when he was younger, and was left with a vocal sound that was unique and very high pitched. Rufus, on the other hand, never barks. I have found that barking is something that these old timers will put a lid on during their first couple weeks or even months. Then, once settled in and familiar with their responsibilities in the pack, they will start to signal various threats. We will have to wait a little longer to find out what Rufus has to say.
While Nik was easy to train in some respects, in others we were not so fortunate. He loved to play with other dogs and would always want to run at them to say hello when they approached, a big no-no for any therapy dog on-duty. Rufus on the other hand, has not shown any proclivity for other canines. If no approaches, he stays quite still at my side and will allow the other dog to come in for a sniff. This is a good trait to have if you want to qualify for therapy work.
Combine that with the fact that he already knows basic commands, his excellent leash behavior, and most importantly, how stinking cute the little guy is, he is well on his way to being certified. There are a few organizations that offer certification and they all look like they do a wonderful job, but we have selected Therapy Dogs Inc. because there happen to be a number of evaluators in our area who can certify Rufus and I as a team.
Our first meeting with the evaluator is this week. It will take us 3-4 weeks to complete the process, but the big hurdle is this first meeting where we are evaluated on our commands. I know we are ready and I will give you an update as soon as I can.