Karen Ni, OTD, OTR/L, CPDT-KA is a registered and licensed occupational therapist with specialty training in animal assisted therapy, and a certified professional dog trainer. Karen is the owner and founder of SunDog Therapy. She received her Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate degrees in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. Karen completed over 3000 hours of supervised hands-on experience providing OT and AAT through fieldwork, doctorate residency, and work experience at Dogwood Therapy Services, Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She integrates animal assisted therapy as a motivating therapeutic modality into occupational therapy treatment for children and adults to promote participation in meaningful activities, and physical, cognitive, and psychological functioning. Karen has presented on animal assisted interventions at conferences throughout the world. She co-authored the chapter “Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy: Guidelines for Standards, Theory, and Practice” in the Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy, 5th Ed. She is a member of Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII), the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC), the Pet Professional Guild (PPG), Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), and the Dog Trainers Alliance of Southern California (DTASC). She maintains continuing education in dog behavior, training, handling, and welfare. Karen has prior experience as an evaluator of therapy animal teams for Pet Partners, and a Field Representative Trainer for Paws With a Cause, where she facilitated the placement of assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities, hearing loss, epilepsy/seizures, and autism.
Dottie is an 8-year-old canine co-therapist that has been specially trained to work with Karen during the provision of occupational therapy services. She encourages participation in goal-oriented activities and inspires individuals with her focus and energy. Dottie is an Australian Cattle dog mix who was rescued at 14 weeks old in Albuquerque, NM and has been training ever since in assistance dog tasks and animal assisted therapy work. She has assisted with presentations on AAT at AOTA and OTAC conferences. Dottie is retired from her role as a Demonstration Dog for Paws With a Cause. She has her AKC Canine Good Citizen Certificate, Farm Dog, Trick Dog Intermediate, Agility Excellent, and Excellent Agility Jumper titles. When Dottie is not working, she enjoys playing fetch, hiking, and doing agility. Dottie is an active dog who loves learning new things!
Tater Tot is a 6-year-old canine co-therapist. He is a Labrador Retriever, born in Nebraska and raised at Dogwood Therapy Services in Albuquerque, NM. He has been training since 8 weeks old in assistance dog tasks and animal assisted therapy work. Tater promotes participation in therapy using his exuberance, goofiness, and enthusiasm for life (and food!). He has his ORT and Nosework 1 titles from the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). When Tater is not working, he enjoys playing at the dog beach, going on sniff walks, and snuggling. He is a happy dog who loves to share his joy with others!
Together, we are dedicated to supporting individuals on their paths to greater independence, health, and wellbeing.