Therapy dogs, like humans, evolve over the course of their lifetime. Some dogs excel at therapy later in life as they mellow while others excel at a young age and possibly grow out of it as they age. Some dogs are in it for life while others, not so much. It's okay to experience change in your therapy dog and allow him or her the space to take a break from it ~ whether that be for a while, or forever. There is more to life than simply being a therapy dog. That's not to say that therapy can be tossed aside so easily, but as a dedicated human, one must be open to the possibility of this happening with their beloved companion.
Jazz's last assignment was with a classroom of developmentally delayed elementary students; an absolute favorite demographic of mine to work with. Jazz enjoyed it at first, but some of these children can be heavy handed, space invading, frightening things to some animals. After a few months of weekly visits, Jazz had had enough and I had to give her space and stop making visits. I'm thrilled to say that I became a therapy monitor for that school, helping settle in Jazz's replacements in the classroom. I get the joy of an occasional visit to the class, observing the new dog and volunteer without having to involve or expose Jazz.
As a certified TTouch practitioner, Jazz has enjoyed regular TTouch sessions at home and over time has evolved into quite the affection slut. As I heal from a devastating accident from last summer, I can once again entertain thoughts of returning Jazz to therapy when I feel we're both ready. For Jazz's comfort, young children will not be her venue. She began therapy visits at a transitional care unit with mostly mature patients whom she really enjoyed. My shyness was the real issue....but having been a patient trapped in a room, isolated and desperate for company.... I believe I can move past my own issues and cross that bridge to bring companionship and a joyful distraction to a patients' days. I know what it feels like ~now~.