Current facility dog
Robert is Dr. Spector's current facility dog used during testing and therapy sessions. Her previous dog, Rand, who's living out his golden years as a beloved pet, started showing signs that he needed to retire in 2014, so Dr. Spector let CCI know she'd be needing a successor. She took Robert home in February of 2015.
For as long as dogs and people have lived side by side, dogs have had jobs. Some are crime-fighters, some are livestock herders and protectors, some work for people with disabilities, and still others work with practitioners in educational or healthcare settings. The latter are referred to as facility dogs, and Canine Companions for Independence expertly trains and places them in schools, hospitals, courthouses, clinicians' offices, and more, all over the United States. In these kinds of settings, dogs' jobs are to assist practitioners in treating patients by providing motivation, reassurance, and rewards.
Because they go through the same process as a service dog would, CCI's facility dogs are carefully selected and have an impressive array of skills, including basic commands such as sit, down, shake, and speak!, but can also perform more complicated tasks. For example, tug tells the dog to grip and pull on a tab or rope; push indicates that the dog should use his or her nose to push an object like a door or drawer.
Dr. Spector's current facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence, is Robert, a big, handsome lab golden retriever cross, selected for therapy because of his instant affection for everyone he meets. He is a gentle guy who loves to give kisses (to those who want them!). He enjoys resting next to children when they are completing testing, or joining them on the couch during therapy sessions. He is also available to play outside or go for walks with children during therapy sessions. In a visit with a clinical psychologist, sometimes, just the feeling that the dog is listening and cares helps patients to feel comfortable sharing what's on their minds and disclosing their worries. During psychological testing, he provides reassurance by quietly sitting close by and not moving, so that children can hold onto him or pet him. Sometimes, while completing an especially difficult test, children are told that once they finish, they can brush him, have him put his whole body on their laps, put his head in their laps, shake his paw, or watch him perform some of the other commands that he was taught during advanced training. A favorite of many is to watch him open and close the cabinets in Dr. Spector's office.
Robert is a very social dog. He loves being around people, so even though he has a crate in Dr. Spector's office, he never uses it. An "incessant licker," puppy kisses are his specialty. He uses them to soothe patients and give them something to focus on while they talk with Dr. Spector, or to motivate them to get through tests and assessments. He's also a "leaner"—you know those dogs, the ones that lean on you with their full weight, trusting you to hold them up and begging for pets — and he smiles (you can see some of these smiles in the pictures posted here!).These affectionate behaviors make him very effective at his job. His manners are impeccable, too. Robert's spot in the office is his bed, right between the testing table and couch, and he stays there until he's told to take his place next to a patient.
People of all ages, babies to adults, are welcome in Dr. Spector's practice, and her canine counterpart loves them all!