Ann R. Howie, CCA, CCFT, LICSW, ACSW has a distinctive combination of personal experience and professional training in both the human and animal fields. As an only child living on a country ranch, her early-childhood play was observing and playing with animals. As an adult, Ann was trained to observe human behavior as a psychotherapist. She quickly saw similarities in the behavior of human and non-human animals, and she integrated animal-assisted therapy into her professional practice. She has incorporated animals into her work in private practice, in-patient psychiatry; acute-care hospital pediatrics, medical-surgical, intensive care, and medical rehabilitation units; home health; hospice; and skilled nursing facilities.
Ann was part of the initial task force that identified standards for the emerging field of animal-assisted therapy in the early 1990s. Later, she combined her professional training and observation experience to help Pet Partners® design training for humans and assessment of the animal-handler team. Recently, she designed and directed the University of Denver’s competency-based Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist program, which focuses on helping clinicians observe canine behavior, identify appropriate therapy dogs, and work effectively with them. Ann’s book, Teaming with Your Therapy Dog, is a text for many animal-assisted programs, and her Therapy Animal’s Bill of Rights has been adopted by many visiting-animal programs internationally. Her latest book, Assessing Handlers for Competency in Animal-Assisted Interventions, is designed to bring the field into the fold of competency-based assessment.
After obtaining a credential as a dog trainer, Ann’s observation skills were further refined during her training as a Certified Canine Fitness Trainer to identify possible physical issues that can affect a dog’s comfort. She applies this knowledge to the physical and emotional stresses placed upon dogs working in animal-assisted interventions. Ann’s extensive training to obtain her CARAT™ certification added powerful experience that changed not only what she sees when she looks at dogs, but also how she helps animals thrive in their lives and work with humans.