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Two Therapy Dogs of the Week

Cheerio working the crowd at the Autism Speaks Walk
Cheerio working the crowd at the Autism Speaks Walk

This week we celebrate two amazing Golden Retrievers in memoriam.

Cheerio at work

Bailey and Cheerio set the standard for therapy dogs. Each had the qualities Pet Partners looks for and each served the community in a variety of environments.

Bailey loved nothing more than having children around, cuddling and hugging him.

He especially loved working one on one with children like our friend Julian. Bailey was the first large dog Julian met in therapy and was the perfect dog for this transition from small dogs. Bailey allowed Julian to be cautious and slowly they became friends.

Cheerio was the star of the hospitals where they visited. Everyone just loved this gentle dog and even the most fearful, tear stained little faces warmed up and smiled when they saw Cheerio.

Both dogs were blessed with very skilled handlers. And this teamwork is what Pet Partners is all about, both ends of the leash working together as one.

Remembering the wonderful animals that have been Love Dogs and Pet Partner therapy dogs is important as we learn from each and every one of them. But no two dogs or handlers are the same. And no two assignments are the same. Each and every day our teams go out into the field they have to be adaptable and predictable in their behaviors. Nothing should surprise them.

After about twenty visits with the same child with my Coco, we showed up one day and the child was absolutely different! Two legs were no longer casted! The little child was lying down on the floor and crying and so afraid of his new circumstance. But he saw Coco and a very tiny smile cracked his face! The sadness and pain seemed to melt as he reached for Coco. The therapists were trying to get him to do his exercises but he would have none of it. But he wanted to be closer to his beloved therapy dog, so she was the incentive of the day.

Bailey and Cheerio had this capacity to go with the flow, understand their role in the process, thoroughly enjoy what they were doing and never fail in their ability to listen to their handlers.

The handlers of Bailey and Cheerio have now continued their important volunteer work with other wonderful dogs but everyone will always remember Bailey and Cheerio.

So this week's celebration of therapy dogs is in remembrance of two gentle giants.

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