• Learn More About Ann Howie, CAIS Program Director and Instructor

    1. What’s your role at IHAC? How long have you been involved with IHAC?

    I am the Director of the Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) certificate program.  I’ve been working on the CAIS project since 2016.  I started teaching in the Animals and Human Health certificate program as Adjunct Professor in 2007. 

    1. Tell us a little about your career and how it affects the work you do with IHAC.

    Animals have been a part of my life since birth, so it’s no surprise that animals remain integral to both my happiness and career now.  In the early 1990s I worked on a task force that identified standards of practice for animal-assisted activities and therapy.  In the mid- and late-1990s I was fortunate to work with Delta Society to co-create the Pet Partners program and to change the field from evaluating only animals to evaluating the handler and animal together as a team.  That experience got me started working professionally with dogs as a trainer in addition to maintaining my private counseling practice. 

    As a dog trainer, I have training and experience with general behavior, conditioning and fitness, therapy dog, and service dog work.  As an integrated human and canine professional, I consult with and train individuals and AAI programs around the world, including the Czech Republic, Israel, Italy, France, Japan, Columbia, and Chile.  Many programs around the U.S. use my third book, Teaming with Your Therapy Dog, as a text for their members.  I received a national Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, yet that wasn’t the end of my lifetime work in AAI!  I am a strong advocate for competency-based screening of animal-handler teams rather than evaluations that focus on skill performance, and I design competency-based screening for groups and facilities.  The University of Denver has helped me fulfill a lifelong dream of helping AAI professionals obtain a foundation of information and experience necessary for working effectively and humanely with canines.

    1. What’s your favorite aspect of teaching?

    How can I choose a favorite?  I love (almost) all of on-line teaching!  Getting to know people from all over the world who are dedicated to animals and their welfare in animal-assisted interactions is both gratifying and exciting.  I love helping people see the work they are doing a bit differently and hearing them rededicate themselves to high-quality animal-assisted work that protects the therapy animals.

    1. What advice would you give to someone just starting in the field of animal-assisted interventions?

    Learn as much as you can about the species you are working with!  It is not enough to know how to work with your client population.  Ethical practitioners have both education and experience working with their therapy animal species, and they take continuing-education courses to keep up to date in both human and canine/equine/feline/etc. issues.

    1. Anything else potential students may want to know?

    Our therapy animals have rights, too!  It is our responsibility to develop a relationship with our therapy animals that is respectful of them in all ways and obtains their consent to do this work.  Professionals who work with humans have expertise with humans, but not always with animals.  And vice versa:  professionals who work with animals do not always have expertise with humans.  The CAIS  certificate program merges the two professions by providing lectures and materials from canine professionals with oversight by an integrated human/canine professional.

This portfolio last updated: 02-Jul-2019 1:35 PM