Did you know that a therapy dog needs an official photograph to be certified? What a great time to schedule a photo session so you can not only obtain that official photo but also have a wealth of images of your best friend to display around your home so others can discover how special she is.
That’s the exact situation that Doug Steyling found himself in when it was time for his dog Faith to graduate from therapy academy.
I recently caught up with Doug and Faith to learn more.
Meet Doug Steyling and His Best Friend Faith, the Therapy Dog
LF: Doug, tell me about yourself and your background.
DS: I am 70 years old. I still work because I enjoy it. I’m single and I have a Golden Retriever. She is my companion, a joy to have around, my best friend.
LF: Have you always loved dogs?
DS: Yes. I had been around dogs my entire life. My father always had Boston Terriers and my grandfather bred dogs. They have always been a special part of my life.
LF: Tell me about your Golden Retriever. Where did you find her?
DS: Faith was a gift from dear friends of mine, who breed Golden Retrievers.
She was in the last litter of Misty, the Golden Retriever that they had. I used to go over and socialize with the puppies. It’s good to socialize them before their new owners pick them up.
Faith would always come over by me. She wouldn’t go to anyone else. It was like she was meant to be my dog. She was also the last puppy left in the litter. One day, my friend Rachel called and said,
“Doug, someone is coming to look at her this afternoon. This is your dog, are you o.k. with this?”
I replied that I wasn’t o.k. with the other people taking Faith . Although I had many reasons for not taking Faith myself, Rachel had a lot of positive answers and encouragement. So I said I would be there the following night.
My children told me I was out-of-my-mind to adopt another dog since I already had a West Highland Terrier. Faith has been with me ever since. I lost Brody, my Westie last year. Faith has been a blessing and a great companion.
LF: When and why did you decide to start training Faith to be a therapy dog?
DS: When I got Faith, she was almost grown-up but I had committed myself to the idea that I wanted to train her to be a therapy dog. I talked to the breeders about this. Unfortunately, Faith was very active and high strung even with training.
Then Brodie, my Westie, passed away. I realized that Faith was in competition for my attention. After Brodie’s passing, Faith calmed down. I knew, then, it was time to train her to be a therapy dog.
I contacted the trainer; he was just starting class and I enrolled her. She passed with flying colors. Now, I’m just waiting for everything to open up after the COVID-19 virus clears up so I can visit nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.
LF: What kind of therapy dog is Faith?
DS: Faith is qualified to go visit any nursing home, hospital, school, or Veterans hospital affiliated with the Bright and the Beautiful Therapy Dogs, which is a nationwide therapy dog organization.
We just visit and be with the people there, give them a sense of need. I’m looking forward to visiting the Veterans Hospital in Paramus, New Jersey, and the facilities with young children.
LF: Why are you looking specifically at those two groups of people in need of a therapy dog? Is that something that touches a special place in your heart?
DS: Yes, it does. I look at these young children who are so sick, and it touches my heart deeply. I see the commercials where the child is lying in bed, so sick, and the nurse says we are going to try something different today and a dog walks in. I want to be that person there with Faith to cheer them up.
I am a veteran. Their sacrifice has always been important to me. My sons all served.
LF: What’s involved in the training process for a therapy dog?
DS: As a therapy dog, Faith has to listen to all my commands.
I had her on a 20 ft. lead to train her to stay as I walked away and then came back to her. Also, she needed not to grab anything off the floor (like a medication).
She needs to be trained to be quiet, gentle and non aggressive around sick people. She is a big lover.
LF: What advice would you offer someone like you who wants to adopt a therapy dog?
DS: Having a therapy dog is such a great opportunity to help others. You get to spend quality time with your dog while you’re helping others.
LF: Why did you decide to have professional photos taken of Faith?
DS: I needed professional photos of Faith for her Bright and Beautiful certificate. I also wanted them because Faith is special. There is just something about her.
I could have taken some myself. In fact, I have pictures all around the apartment that I’ve taken of my dog. I wanted professional pictures of her because she is so special.
LF: Doug, how did you come to select Your Best Friend Pet Photography?
DS: I knew Lisa, she was a great dog walker for me and took care of Brodie and Faith. I discovered she was now a pet photographer from Instagram. When I found her there and saw the beautiful photos she was taking, it was just a natural fit. I knew she would get great photos of Faith.
I didn’t think about reaching out to anyone else.
LF: Thanks, Doug. What was the photo shoot like? Was it what you expected?
DS: The photoshoot was everything I expected and more.
When I got there, I wasn’t sure Faith was going to stay and pose since it was a beautiful day. Lisa knew just how to make her relax to sit and pose – whether it was a toy, a treat, or a funny noise.
When Lisa came over with the proofs, it was just amazing. Everything turned out better than I ever imagined. It was great.
>> See Your Experience
LF: Which art products did you select and why? Where did you display them?
DS: I selected an album for the coffee table so when people come over they could look at them.
I was determined to get a picture on the wall for my apartment so I chose a 20×30 barnwood framed print which I have gotten a lot of compliments on. Everyone thinks it’s amazing.
The last thing I chose was a woodblock with ten picture panels. “I change the front picture every week. Faith is close to me no matter where I am”
>> See Your Investment
LF: Doug, is there anything else you would like to add to conclude our interview?
DS: I am just really thankful for Faith. I thank the good Lord every day that she is in my life and… I am thankful that I remembered Lisa when it was time to take pictures because everything turned out amazing!
LF: Thanks very much, Doug!
Does Your Therapy Dog Need Photographs?
If yes, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Your Best Friend Pet Photography, we not only love dogs. We also deeply respect the important work that therapy dogs do for others.
Thanks for reading.