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Meet SWD’s Beauregard, a Certified Therapy Dog

Beauregard from Southern Water Dogs

We’re so proud to announce Beauregard’s acceptance into the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, an organization which tests and certifies therapy dogs for therapy work in hospitals, schools, libraries, courtrooms and other important public facilities. Beau passed his testing with flying colors, and soon thereafter was selected as the therapy dog for Mission Health’s HOPE – A Women’s Cancer Center. We’re thrilled to see Beau giving back to the community each week at our therapy sessions at the cancer center, and he looks pretty happy about it too!

Beauregard of Southern Water Dogs at Mission Cancer Care in Asheville, NC

What’s a Therapy Dog, Anyway?

Therapy dogs are working canines providing compassion and relief to those enduring a challenging time in life. They’re typically used in environments with high tension, grief, and stress such as an abused individual having to testify against their abuser in the courtroom. Therapy dogs are uniquely dispositioned to provide calm during the storm, and the dog’s sense of purpose is fulfilled by relieving humans of emotional distress. Sometimes the dog’s assignments are meant to distract the individual, such as when a child “reads to a dog” to build his or her reading skills, and other times the assignments are created to ease tension and despair, such as at a doctor’s office when a patient receives a devastating diagnosis. A therapy dog is trained for all of these situations, and is incredibly helpful to professionals in the workplace when the dog goes to work. What an incredible need the dog is fulfilling!

The Process of Becoming a Therapy Dog

So you might be wondering, how do I get my dog certified as a therapy dog? It’s actually quite simple, thanks to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs certification program! To succeed in the therapy dog program, your dog should have a gentle disposition, obey basic commands, be indifferent to loud noises and other potentially frightening situations, and enjoy receiving pets from strangers. Other requirements include the dog handler memorizing organizational rules (such as using a 4-foot or shorter leash and disallowing face kisses from the dog), keeping the therapy dog cleanly groomed, logging visits in an online portal, and being patient and forgiving with people in an emotionally charged situation. Think you and your dog might fit the mold? Here’s more information about how to schedule your therapy dog test.

So My Therapy Dog Can Go Anywhere, Right?

Actually, no, therapy dogs aren’t considered service dogs or assistance dogs; therapy dogs are considered pets. Therapy dogs are trained to love and care for the community, whereas service dogs receive highly specific training and have public rights with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Many dog owners wonder where a therapy dog can go. You’ll need to follow rules for pets at businesses such as hotels and retail stores. If it’s not pet-friendly and doesn’t have a therapy dog program in place, unfortunately, you likely can’t bring your therapy dog. Instead, seek out therapy dog programs at locations like doctor’s offices, hospitals, courtrooms, schools, and nursing homes where you and your therapy dog can apply to provide dog therapy visits.

If We Can Do It, You Can Too!

Beau’s testing wasn’t terribly difficult, and we believe you can do it too! Here is a basic summary of the testing process to become a therapy dog:

  • Make an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s vaccinations are fully up to date, and to have your vet fill out and sign a health verification form (which is available on the ATD’s website).
  • Apply for and pass a handler’s background check
  • Practice basic obedience such as heel, loose leash walking, avoiding licking or kissing, and be courteous around other dogs. 
  • Desensitize your dog to sounds and experiences you might encounter at local facilities such as wheelchairs, alarms, small spaces, and rolling carts with potentially dangerous objects.
  • Train your dog to love strangers, and to be unreactive to irritable patients. Beau was chased with a cane during his therapy dog test to check his reactivity to a potential patient who is afraid of dogs and used his cane as a form of protection. While we don’t condone using canes to scare off dogs, it’s understandable that a component of the ATD test is to validate that your dog doesn’t have aggressive behaviors.
  • Schedule a test with a local ATD tester. This test will include three visits to local facilities, which your ATD Tester will help to coordinate.
  • After becoming certified, seek out a local therapy dog club where you can collaborate with other handlers and get more information about local facilities searching for a therapy dog team. 
  • Maintain your certification by submitting an annual application.

If you’re working on your therapy dog certification, we’d love to hear about your experience! Let us know how we can help, and we’ll be there to cheer you on!

November 2023

We're Expecting!

Our next litter is expected to be born in mid-November 2023 with puppy visits available on Christmas Day! Apply today on

AKC Golden Retriever


Violet is a stunning light colored golden with a gorgeous coat! She is extraordinarily intelligent and consistently seeks your approval and direction. Violet has a way of staring deep into your eyes as if she can read your mind. She is a petite golden with slender composition and elegant stature. Violet is quite the lady, and is lovingly attached to her guardian family, where she lives with them at the beach. 

Health Report

  • DOB- June 13, 2021
  • AKC Registered SS27358403
  • Sire: Double K Saprky
  • Dam: Krystal Kath Alena
  • Degenerative Myelopathy: Clear
  • PRCD-PRA: Clear
  • GR-PRA 1: Clear
  • GR-PRA 2: Clear
  • Ichthyosis 1 (dandruff): Clear
  • Ichthyosis 2 (dandruff): Clear
  • NCL 5: Clear
  • OFA Hips: Good
  • OFA Elbows: Normal
  • OFA Cardiac: Normal