Meet the Teams
Where are the dogs from?
Shine On! Kids has been working with Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, based in Maui in the US since 2009 to provide dogs to for our program. Though there are numerous excellent therapy dog and assistance dog training centers in Japan, currently none are capable of training dogs to work as facility dogs. Because facility dogs work daily in the hospital, they are subjected to a much higher level of stimulation than other working dogs (intense interaction with a variety of people, noises, smells, lights, etc.) and while many volunteer therapy dogs can visit a hospital for an hour or so once a week, for example, a prolonged and repeated hospital experience is too stressful for most dogs.
How are the dogs selected?
Facility dogs are chosen for their calm and friendly temperament as puppies, then go through multiple levels of training over a 1 to 1.5 year period. In spite of excellent selection and training during this time, many candidate facility dogs are deemed not suitable for any number of reasons and have to be re-directed to other job-training programs. Therefore, the dogs that do make it through this rigorous training are truly the cream of the crop in their field!
What kind of training do the nurse-handlers receive?
The Shine On! Kids nurse-handlers for our facility dogs go to the US to receive training on-site with their dog. After training graduation, Assistance Dogs of Hawaii staff come to Japan to oversee the transition of the dog and handler into the Japanese hospital. In addition, Assistance Dogs of Hawaii staff come to Japan for follow-up visits to confirm the dog and handler are working to internationally-recognized standards and doing the best possible job in their new home!
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