Topic Thread:      Pets & Companion Animals   »   Competition & Working Animals   »   Golden Therapist Therapy Dog

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Golden Therapist Therapy Dog


Hello, everyone at Homeward Bound! It’s Gabby, a two-time alumnus approaching my two-year anniversary at my forever home. I thought this would be a good time to update all of you on my escapades. I can’t remember much about my early years. I was brought to HB when I was one. Then I was brought back to HB when I was three. My family had to move. I had dreams of chasing squirrels and catching tennis balls. Those dreams at last came true, plus much more. I was adopted by a lady who is a therapist. So my story begins.

After a few days of relaxing, being pampered and getting to know my cat-brother Rambo, I was brought to an office and introduced to clients. I had no idea what I was doing, but my mom, known to her clients as Dr. MAK, said I did really well. Before I knew what was happening, I had been enrolled in a Canine Good Citizen class at Tony La Russa’s ARF in Walnut Creek! I saw no point in obeying all those commands, but the treats were great. So, after eight weeks, I gained a few pounds — well, more than a few — and got my certificate. The end? Nope. I had to take a temperament test. I passed with flying colors and got my yellow vest that shows I am part of ARF’s Pet Hug Pack dog therapy group. I then began visiting patients at John Muir Hospital.

My mom also started to take me to work with her. I work with special education students at a high school in Concord. When they do well, they get tickets for “Gabby time.” I get to chase tennis balls and I’ve now lost a few of those pounds I’d gained. This therapy gig has taught me a lot about myself I never knew, as well as words I still don’t understand. Like, I help kids learn self-regulation by teaching them emotional coping skills, which my Mom tells them I use (Really?) when I am depressed, anxious or defiant (Who — me?). I help calm kids down and give advice to those who will not listen to my mom but will listen to me. I put smiles on the faces of kids who are going through tough stuff and wake up kids dozing off in the classroom. I have been doing this for over a year and really look forward to it. I even have my own staff ID badge.

I am also part of ARF’s Listening Ears program. Kids read to me in the library and I get to lie down and be petted and get more treats. In my spare time I take long walks in the park and love to run and play tug. The end? Not yet. My mom just told me I received the American Kennel Club Therapy Dog title certificate. The AKC now has a program that recognizes canines who help humans. I am lucky that I get to do what comes naturally to all of us goldens while at the same time getting to help a few humans along the way.

Thank you, Homeward Bound, for being there. My birthday is coming up — 5 years — and I need to make plans. Take care, everyone.

Love, Gabby.

Authored by Mary Ann Kacerguis, Ph.D., 16 September 2011 for the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary (Northern California) newsletter.
Internet Exclusive published 18 November 2012.
Article Copyright Mary Ann Kacerguis.  Used with Permission.

Follow links to the right to learn more about competition and working animals. This page showcases a working dog named Gabby who serves as a therapy pet. At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest pertaining to locating a pet, protecting your pet’s well-being and health, and maximizing your pet’s quality of life. If you desire to become a pet owner, check out Pet Adoption & Rescue. If you already own a pet, you may be especially interested in Pet Care & Pet Health and Pet Products & Supplies. View the Pets & Companion Animals SiteMap for a complete list of competition and working animals topics.

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