We had a chat with the Executive Director of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a therapy dog volunteer organization that welcomes kind-hearted individuals and their dogs, providing insurance, certification, testing, and more in exchange for a network that can help bring a smile on the faces of people living in nursing homes, rehab facilities, cancer centers, etc. Read our Billie Smith interview to learn more about their mission.

1. How did you start your website?

Our first website was developed by a web designing company here in Cheyenne. Our current website is under DigitalCoast Marketing out of SC. They have designed and maintained it for the past few years. A website is a must for any national organization that is trying to reach potential members throughout the US, PR and CAN.

2. What are the most challenging parts of dog therapy?

Building a strong volunteer core. I think we have the best volunteers overall that any organization could have. However, we will never have enough volunteers to meet the demand of all the requests we get for our services on a daily basis. As any other volunteer organization, you have those who make volunteering a priority in their life and others who just do it whenever. We need that dedicated volunteer to keep the organization alive. How to recruit that type of volunteer is a huge challenge.

3. How do you find your motivation?

I go to a nursing home and visit with the residents and watch them smile as they pet my dog and tell me their stories. There is nothing better than being a bright spot in someone’s day. I’ve been doing this type of volunteering for 27 years and I started in the nursing homes. They will always have my heart because there are so many who have no one who comes to see them and I had many wonderful friendships develop just by taking an hour out of my schedule to spend with someone who needs a furry friend’s visit.

4. Your best advice for pet owners in order to keep their pets as healthy as they can?

Do your annual checkups, feed a high quality food and exercise your dog on a regular basis. It’s pretty much the same thing you are going to do with your human children.

billie smith and topaz

Billie Smith, Executive Director of Alliance of Therapy Dogs

If you want to learn more about the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and maybe even register as a volunteer, you can visit their social media channels. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Have you ever had any experience with therapy dogs? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!