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The Keystone K9ers
K9ers Video (You Tube) (External Link)
Video Courtesy of
"Let's Talk Tailwaggers" on
Bethel Park Television - BPTV (External Link)
Suburban Living Article ( ) June / July 2009 Almanac
Keystone Canine Training Club has an extensive Community Outreach program. This group of people and their dogs are called the Keystone K9ers. They are dedicated to bringing joy and laughter into the lives of the residents of various nursing homes, senior citizen centers and day care centers located within the southern PA area. They also perform at events such as the Bethel Park Community Day. The group consists of about 12 human members and 12 to 15 furry members. All dogs within this group are AKC approved Canine Good Citizens (CGC) and all have been tested and approved by Therapy Dogs International (TDI) as certified therapy dogs.
The purpose of the K9ers is twofold:
First, they put on a show for their audience, which consists of freestyle dance, heeling to music, obedience and agility demonstrations, and then each one of the dogs has the opportunity to perform their favorite tricks. There are various themes that are used including Patriotic, Steelers, Halloween, Circus and the ever popular Wedding, just to mention a few. All these are done to the appropriate theme music and costumes. Everyone enjoys the fun and it is very rewarding to have the audience clapping and laughing. A performance lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.
Second, after the performance all the handlers, following the Therapy Dog International rules, do their socialization with the residents. The handlers introduce their dogs, and ask the residents if they would care to pet them. The K9ers enjoy this part of the demos the most. They know that the residents love seeing the dogs perform, but the hands on and the one on one is still the best part of everyone’s day. The joy that the K9ers give and receive is the most rewarding feeling that a handler can have. The following is a quote from a nurse: “We see smiles on faces that have not smiled in a long time”.
To be able to do these demos takes dedication by the group. They meet almost every Sunday evening to practice and to keep improving their part of the show. The majority of the demos are performed on Saturdays. To say the least, being a K9er keeps them busy, but none of them would change anything about the group. They really enjoy what they do!
Here is a portion of their photo album.