When Michelle Robinson (BSCN’05) brought home Gideon, her German shepherd puppy, she didn’t know that he would one day inspire her to start her own business. But as he grew into a gentle, mild-mannered dog, Robinson began to see his potential. After completing several levels of obedience training, she and Gideon enrolled in a six-week course to learn the skills necessary to become a registered Therapy Dog Team. Two years later, Robinson started Summit Therapy Animal Services LLC.
Today, SummitTAS helps children affected by intellectual, emotional or physical challenges achieve goals through the use of animals. With 10 therapy dog teams on staff, the company serves about 100 children each month.
“We work with the child’s parents and therapist to develop goals forthe session,” explains Robinson.“For instance, a child who needs to improve balance might lead a dog through an activities course, while a child who needs help reading might read a book outloud to a dog.”
What’s important, Robinson says, is that the presence of the dog creates an environment in which the child actually wants to participate. “Dogs have the amazing ability to sense what each child needs, whether it’s a big kiss on the cheek or simply laying their heads in a lap.”