2020 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium goes virtual

The 2020 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium goes virtual this year.

The 2020 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium will be a virtual event this year in its second year of existence.

Hosted by Rowan University of Glassboro, New Jersey, the National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium was co-founded in 2019 by AKC judge and author David Frei, who was also instrumental in starting the therapy dog charity Angel on a Leash.

“With the concerns of COVID-19, the second National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium
made the logical decision to transform to a virtual event for 2020,” Frei said in a press release. “The exciting upside is that we can now engage a national audience via technology.”

Also organizing the event is Michele Pich, an associate professor at Rowan who is the director of the school’s Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, which was founded thanks to a $3 million donation from Gerry Shreiber, the CEO of New Jersey-based J&J Snack Foods, which distributes SuperPretzel soft pretzels, ICEE frozen beverages and many other favorites to stadiums and public spaces nationwide.

The 2020 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium will be held online on Tuesday, November 17 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET, and registration can be done on the Rowan website, registration is $20.

A limited number of scholarships are available for students interested in attending; they are to email PetTherapy@Rowan.edu for information on how to apply.

Keynote speakers will be Dr. Marty Becker, a nationally syndicated pet health columnist and author of over 20 books, and Dr. Cynthia Otto, the director of Penn Vet Med’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Other speakers include therapy dog handlers, veterinarians and at least one lawyer.

The 2020 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium will be a companion event to the 2020 National Dog Show, which will take place November 14-15 at the Greater Philadelphia Event Center in the suburb of Oaks, Pennsylvania. No spectators or non-essential personnel other than dogs and their handlers, officials, judges, or NBC production crew will be admitted this year because of health and safety concerns.

The show will air on Thanksgiving Day at noon on NBC across all time zones.

Making this event virtual for this year ensures that attendees will have access to education about therapy dogs and the chance to make connections within that community, while at the same time keeping people as safe as possible as the pandemic continues onward.

To us here at Dog O’Day, this seems like a great compromise in that it allows a worthy endeavor to keep going while making the best of a bad situation.

For now, the plan is to combine the nationally-available virtual program with an in-person format on the Rowan campus for the 2021 National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium.