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  • Hallie Gould
    Hallie Gould

    Toto Trot

    September 26 join us for Toto Trot, a benefit walk for Cairns and community!  Our location will again be Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park in Beaverton, OR.  Cairns, Cairn-mixes, their friends and family are all invited to join in our annual walk to support community organizations with a canine orientation. 

    On-site registration begins at 9:00 and the Totos trot at 10:00.

    In addition to the walk there will be games and a Cairn costume contest. A fun Cairnish meetup and a worthy objective - won't you support the cause and join us? 

    Proceeds from the TotoTrot will benefit The Little Dog Laughed Animal Assisted Therapy, a group doing amazing work to assist children using dog training as an inflection point to affect lives in a positive, powerful way.

    Learn more about how  STAR animal assisted therapy program works — and why —  with these questions and answers from The Little Dog Laughed.

    What might be some of the reasons the STAR program has been successful with at-risk children?

    Positive, marker-based training is 100% about building a relationship based on earned trust and clear, timely communication between two different entities – humans on one side, dolphins, orcas, monkeys, chickens, dogs, etc. on the other side. There is something both exhilarating and empowering about having a dog not only do what we ask, but also be clearly enjoying itself.

    We learn/remember best if we are actively rather than passively involved in what is being presented. Because STAR engages the kids in the training process, they are active participants in their own therapy.

    We all tend to feel more positively about a situation if we feel we have choices and that they will be honored. STAR builds in opportunities for participants to make choices, and to recognize that right in others.

    Dogs have been bred for centuries to interact intelligently with humans. The have very readable emotional reactions to what is happening to them – they provide real-time feedback on interactions. STAR participants are taught to “read” what the dog is saying and to adjust their own behavior accordingly. Having the “little dog laugh” is a sincere and unambiguous signal to children training a dog that they are doing a good job.

    How are your STAR teams different from more traditional therapy dog teams that we see in hospitals and libraries?

    It is the active nature of our engagement with the children that distinguishes us from other groups:

    • We actively engage the children in thinking up and teaching our dogs an amazing assortment of games. This does not sound unusual until you recognize that traditional therapy organizations (e.g., Pet Partners, formerly Delta Society, or Therapy Dogs, Inc.) do not allow animals off-leash, do not allow clickers, and the children are not allowed to train. Full stop. When our dogs are representing Pet Partners, we strictly abide by their rules. But when we put on our STAR Team suit, the fun begins!
    • Traditional therapy dogs are specifically screened to gently tolerate ANY behavior on the part of the child. Our dogs are encouraged to safely but clearly react to a child’s behavior. One of our goals is for the children to learn to “read” what the dog is telling them so they can begin to understand that one’s behavior does impact others.

    What exactly does a STAR team DO?

    In the first visit, the primary focus is on safe and respectful conduct around dogs and learning to “understand what dogs are trying to say”. Subsequent sessions move swiftly through:

    • Introducing STAR terminology (See, Tag And Reward) and modeling how this works by teaching the therapy dog something totally new in five minutes using a clicker and without speaking a word.
    • Demonstrating the process by training the children’s counselor/teacher to do something silly.
    • Practicing as a group the motor skills needed (both clicking/tagging and rewarding)
    • Practicing teaching each other without using a single word except for the sound of the “click” (using M&M/Skittles/etc. rather than dog treats)
    • Picking a good, preferably silly, game/skill for the students to teach the dog. Note: our handlers have colorful props that suggest specific behaviors (e.g., a tiny basketball goal, a skateboard, etc.) but the kids are encouraged to put their personal stamp on the end product.
    • Reviewing the “Trainer’s Promise”.
    • Discussing how a complex problem (e.g., teaching a dog how to play basketball) is handled by breaking it down into much smaller, easier to train steps/skills that can be worked on one at a time. (“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”). Example: To play basketball, we may decide the dog needs to be able to (1) hold a ball in its mouth, (2) retrieve a ball that is thrown, (3) locate the basketball hoop, (4) put the ball in the hoop, and (5) go to its mat to start the game again.
    • Coaching the children as they teach the therapy dog each of the needed skills individually. Overseeing the “assembly process” of putting those learned skills together in longer and longer sequences (behavior chains) until we reach the final complete behavior.


    The walk will start from the gazebo on the Erickson Avenue side of the park.

    Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park


    Help us support this terrific work

    Register online now! The link below will take you to our our store to register. Even if you can't attend you can support the effort by choosing "My registration is a donation" during checkout. We appreciate your support! Register now:

    Note: this event is in the past.

    Spread the word

    Share this flyer any place dog people are likely to see it!

    tototrot_2015.thumb.png.656ddabc9641f221  Download Flyer

    For more information

    Toto Trot contact: Hallie Smith, horsiehal@yahoo.com, 360-687-2332.


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