Hi Y'all! I hope that this is the right place to put my question ... if not, I do apologize!
My name is Laura and I am an art therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor, working primarily with children, many of whom have been abused/neglected. My employer recently announced that they would be starting an Animal Assisted Therapy program in the next 6 months. Also, my baby Lila (a rescued Bichon Frise) is getting older (at 12.5 years) and slowing down, and I recognize that I don't want an empty house when she crosses the rainbow bridge in the next few years. Both of those reasons have made now the time for me to find another dog to add to my family. I am a firm believer in rescue, and all of my pets growing up and now as an adult have come via rescue/shelter adoption. However, I also know that there are benefits, when wanting a successful therapy dog, to starting with a puppy and "raising them right" from the start, so I have also been in touch with Havanese breeders as well.
I am now in a situation where I'm torn between an adult Havanese mix rescue dog and a full Havanese puppy and am looking to the experts for advice. I had applied for Fonzi http://www.adoptapet.com/pet6992740.html
but there was already an approved application for him, so I thought I had missed out. Late tonight I got an email that the adoption fell through and he is available again and I'm "next in line" for consideration. Naturally, I sent his foster mom a long list of questions for more details about him to ensure he's a good fit, but I'm really struggling with what to do.
Anyway, to my main question. To those of you who have done or are familiar with Animal Assisted Therapy, especially with children, would you recommend starting with a puppy (who of course wouldn't be around the kids until he was much older) or do you think an adult dog, with the right training and temperament, could be successful?
I love my Lila, and I'd never give her up for anything, but she's a mill rescue and far too neurotic to ever be a therapy dog. I don't want that to happen again. Also, selfishly, part of me doesn't want to miss out on the sweetness of "puppyhood" again by adopting an older dog. Still another part of me feels some guilt for thinking about "buying" a dog when there are so many out there in need of homes (no offense to any responsible breeders intended as you have my utmost respect).
So, my first post is a book! Thank you for making it this far and for your expert opinions. I have very much enjoyed lurking on this board so far and you've already taught me so much!