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Fabulous dorms lead to top-notch school

BY ALYCIA KILEY

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FRIENDS :  Weekend manager Kristen Nelson shares a quiet moment with frequent guest Summer, a frisky nine-month-old Labrador retriever who’s somewhat nervous about photographers. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FRIENDS : Weekend manager Kristen Nelson shares a quiet moment with frequent guest Summer, a frisky nine-month-old Labrador retriever who’s somewhat nervous about photographers.
Considering the dearth of housing in San Luis Obispo regardless of species, Thousand Hills Pet Resort, a dog boarding and training campus on Buckley Road, borders on downright extravagant. Guests bed down in cozy suites or snug cottages with pressure-activated heating pads to re-energize for the next day of romping in impeccable play yards well supervised by a devoted, professional staff. Special diet requests and medical needs are catered as a matter of course. And it’s nothing short of a holiday matchmaking service: Personalities are carefully assessed for best compatibility, ensuring a convivial social whirl. Whether they visit for a day or by the week, the pampered guests leave blissfully spent from frolic. But the campsite is now far more than doggie paradise.

In March, instructor Monika Jud will lead a specialized Therapy Dog course to train dogs to comfort, assist, and encourage human companions in such settings as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and the offices of occupational therapists. For example, some school children more readily learn to read when reciting to such specially trained dogs than directly to teachers. Moreover, therapy dogs were used to boost the morale of shaken fire fighters and distressed police officers in the aftermath of 9/11. “But no matter what the setting,” Jud remarked, “there is a common thread: People emotionally respond to the trained dogs in ways they wouldn’t to other people.”

The class will provide 15 hours of training over the course of a week to the students and their owners. The curriculum includes theory, techniques to avoid distractions, a trip to a nursing home, and addressing such particular therapy situations as aiding people in wheelchairs. Graduates with the right characteristics will earn a Certificate of Completion.  “There is no other class like this offered in the county,” Jud emphasized. “With proper training, the owner and dog have confidence in volunteering to help others.” Her own dog, Kathy, is a therapy dog whose gentle, loving nature enriches seniors. At one nursing home an elderly woman usually slumped in her wheelchair always arises to tenderly stroke Kathy’s head.

Thousand Hills Pet Resort developed as a way for the Alpha Academy, a nonprofit organization sharing the property, to make extra income. All profits from the resort sustain the academy, which is a residence for young men seeking to shift their lives to a better course. The boys assist the resort in the mornings, where they gain skills for success in any profession.

Depending upon funding, the resort occasionally purchases dogs. Once trained, the dogs are placed. By helping with the instruction, Alpha Academy members learn to communicate with the canines through positive reinforcement, a talent vital to any management position. “A lot of young lives have been profoundly improved here,” said Kylie Gillette, kennel manager.  “Hundreds of young men have gone through the academy and are contributing to their communities.”

To learn more about the Therapy Dog course, day camp, or overnight boarding, call 596-0112 or browse thousandhillspetresort.com. Thousand Hills Pet Resort is located at 173 Buckley Rd. in San Luis Obispo.

 

Fast Facts

The Central Coast Natural History Association offers Mind Walk lectures Monday mornings throughout February and March at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. Admission costs $3. Through February as well, a Monarch butterfly interpretive program is presented daily at the Pismo March Grove. For more information and about these and other talks and walks visit ccnha.org

Free H1N1 flu vaccinations are still available at the San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, and Paso Robles Public Health Clinics. To make an appointment call 781-5500

Women and minorities please apply today! The Citizens Redistricting Commission is recruiting volunteers and the application deadline is Feb.12. So far, more than 73 percent of the applicants who are vying for the commission’s 14 seats are non-Hispanic whites, and about 70 percent are male. To apply to serve on the independent commission to redraw district boundaries for state Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization representatives, visit wedrawthelines.ca.gov/. Do it now.

Intern Alycia Kiley wrote Strokes&Plugs this week.  Send your business and nonprofit news strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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