Golden Angel … the best behaved student

I simply love this video. Golden Retriever Angel is a therapy dog who works at Academy at the Farm, a charter school designed to meet the needs of all students in an inclusive environment.

My favorite part is seeing Angel sitting on the floor during an activity, among an entire class of youngsters. She also is so wonderful when the teacher is playing a math game at the front of the room. And, tunnel time is too funny. Sweet Angel just seems like any other student in the room …. albeit, somewhat furrier, with 4 legs, and a tail.

Learn more about therapy dogs and groups at our foundation site.

Golden Retriever Sadie: Edu-PUP

sadie1.jpgIt looks like Therapy Golden Sadie is having a heck of a time. I know that whenever I took my Goldens into an elementary school it became a major event.

Golden Sadie authors a story that tells about her training and now what she has been qualified to do a few hours a week in a second grade classroom at Kahoa Elementary.


Just click here for the whole adorable scoop.

Golden Retriever Tessa in training

Susan Danner, right, senior clinician at Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center in Montrose, works with her new dog and Fourteen-week-old golden retriever Tessa hangs out with her owner Susan Danner at Midwestern Colorado Mental Health Center in Montrose Thursday afternoon. (Joel Blocker / Daily Press)


Susan Danner is a mental health therapist who had a wonderful Golden therapy helper named Dobie. Sadly, this spring he died at the senior age of 14. But, now Susan is breaking in a new four-footed therapist.


On Sept. 16, Danner’s 25th anniversary at the center, her new co-worker, Tessa, arrived in Montrose. Tessa, a 14-week-old golden retriever, now roams the halls of the mental heath center greeting and spreading her happiness with others.

Danner chose to buy another golden because of their sensitivity to moods, comforting disposition and “pretty” coat.

“This is someone that will come in and just love them,” Danner said.

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever Genny


Golden Genny was only 10 years old but sure did lead a charmed life. She was a consummate comfort.

“She was almost a person,” said Linda Aubey, a clinical psychologist with Aubey & Enzle. “Yeah, she was viewed by lots of people as very intuitive and person-like.”

Genny took this intuition frequently to the classroom, said Aubey, who worked with students at her former job with Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

“She seemed to know how to make those distinctions because she was amazing,” Aubey said. “There was no way that she had been taught that. You can’t teach that to an animal.”

Students would even sometimes treat the dog as almost a de facto guidance counselor. Agitated over something, they would trek to the office with the words, “I want see Genny,” on their lips, an Iowa vet news release said.

“She was a very sensitive animal,” Aubey recalled. “We didn’t think of her as a dog.”

Therapy Golden Retriever Dixie working her magic


Canine counselors find role at school
Administrators sold on benefits


BRYAN – Across northwest Ohio, some schools are going to the dogs. Canine counselors – Allie in Bryan, Magic in Tiffin, and Dixie in Findlay – work each school day with students and staff, and as their success stories spread, more schools across northwest Ohio sign up for therapy dogs.

Allie, a golden retriever with a heart of gold, could easily be called the leader of the pack. The award-winning, professionally trained therapy dog was a Christmas gift to the Bryan Middle School student body in December, 2004, and since then people have been sitting up and taking notice of her work with students.

There’s more . . . .

Remembering Therapy Golden Retriever Brea

CHS loses dedicated volunteer
By Natalie J. Ostgaard, City Editor

BriAnna Kappelhof lays on the floor of Crookston High School
Guidance Counselor Jackie Robertson’s office with Brea.
(Natalie J. Ostgaard, Photographer, 2005 photo)

Crookston High School lost a dedicated volunteer Thursday when Brea, the therapy dog who’d been a mainstay at the school for nearly six years, passed away. “She was just in school earlier in the week,” said Jackie Robertson, the CHS guidance counselor Brea has been a constant companion to since starting with the school right after 9/11. “So she was a fighter to the end.”

Although Jeanie Andringa, owner of Golden Breeze Kennels and co-proprietor of the “Paws Helping Hands” program, was actually Brea’s owner, both women have said Robertson probably spent more hours with her than anyone else over the years.

Brea had slowed down considerably in recent months, Robertson said, but they assumed it was because of her age. She was a senior citizen, after all, at 12 1/2 years.

Andringa called Robertson Tuesday to say Brea wouldn’t be in school that day as she just didn’t seem to feel well. A visit to the veterinarian determined she had an inoperable cancerous mass and that her lungs were filled with fluid. It would only be a matter of time, but Robertson was hoping she’d stick around a little while longer.

“I’d spent several hours with her, went home, and then Jeanie called me back,” she explained. “We had to let her go so she wouldn’t have to suffer. Her death was quick, peaceful and painless.” “She was a tough old bird,” Andringa added. “She never let on that she was sick.” Golden retrievers generally have a life expectancy between 11 and 14 years, so Brea lived about as long as she could, she said. She never had puppies, as she was spayed at a young age.

CHS Principal Richard Koop made the sad announcement at school Friday so the students would hear firsthand about Brea. “This just shows how much respect she earned there,” Andringa said. “It was the highest compliment for her, to have the principal, who’s quite busy with other things, personally make the announcement.”

Andringa went on to say she and her husband, Mike, very much appreciate the support the school has given the therapeutic dog program through the years, which started with her dog, Lad. Brea has been at the schools the longest, although Easton, another of Andringa’s golden retrievers, has been a fixture at Highland for a few years now.

Brea’s passing leaves CHS without a certified therapy dog to help calm even the most agitated students and assist them in their educational ventures. But Andringa said Bella, a golden retriever owned by Jeff and Melissa Perrault, has been training for the job in anticipation of Brea’s retirement and would be coming to the school this spring or early next fall.

A litter of pups born to Andringa’s dog Kizmet 14 weeks ago also brought a surprising turn for the therapy dog program. Although she intended to sell them all, after taking her to the schools a few times, it was decided that one particular little girl, Gracie, would someday carry on the torch for Brea.

“She’s already very in to tune to the school, the students,” she said. “I’m able to bring her without her chewing on the kids. It’s just her personality. She’s going to be great.”

A tribute . . . Robertson wrote this tribute to Brea:

Please let me tell you about my angel, my healer, my hero.

Six years ago, Jeanie and Mike Andringa introduced me to this beautiful six-year-old golden retriever and asked me if I would ever want to have her in my office as a certified therapy dog. The next day, Brea pranced into the school, tail wagging and eager to come to work. Her unconditional love, undying devotion and limitless loyalty towards the students and staff brought out the kindness in everybody.

Miraculous things happened when Brea was around. She instinctively sensed someone’s pain and hurt and her customary response would be to lay by them waiting to, perhaps, be patted on her head, or better yet, received a hug. Brea never discriminated. It didn’t matter to her the color of your skin or if you were rich or poor. There was always enough warmth and gentleness to go around. She was a reservoir of comfort and love.

I am filled with deep gratitude to Jeanie and Mike for so unselfishly sharing this beautiful dog with me for all these years and for giving me the gift to be with Brea at the end. I got to say good bye. I got to tell her how much I loved her. I got to kiss her soft fur one last time. As painful as it was, I knew it was time to let go. Her work here was complete. Our trusted friend touched the lives of those who knew her. I miss her.

My life has forever been changed because Brea was in it.

Reading with Golden Retriever Roby Program


Canine coaxes kids to read at school – Dog’s magic related to a lack of intimidation
By Sharon Wernlund, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

For 3 1/2 years, a golden retriever named Roby did her best to make life a little easier for Amy Yeater’s husband, Jeff, as muscular dystrophy gradually robbed him of his independence.

The Stuart couple adopted the 58-pound pooch in October 2000 from Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization in Alpharetta, Ga., that raises and trains service dogs to help people with physical disabilities or other special needs.

At 17 months, Roby could flip on a light switch, retrieve a fallen pen and even open the refrigerator with a hard tug on the bandana tied on the door’s handle. She was also her master’s legs, pulling his manual wheelchair wherever he wanted to go.

In April 2004, when Amy Yeater mourned her husband’s death, Roby mourned, too. “She was lost without him,” recalls Yeater, an educational consultant in Palm City for Bessey Creek Elementary’s special education students. “She was so used to being out every day and performing a function. Suddenly she had no purpose.”

Wondering what to do, Yeater spent her summer vacation in search of answers. By fall, the gentle canine had a new role as her partner in education in the school-based Reading with Roby program. Since August 2004, Roby’s been a faithful friend and reading companion for students of all ages at Bessey Creek, in both the regular and special education classrooms.


She mainly serves students in kindergarten and the first and second grades who either are just learning to read or need a little extra help with their early literacy skills. Every Thursday and Friday, the dog is escorted to seven classrooms from 8 a.m. to noon for 30-minute sessions in which five or six students, identified by their teachers, read one-on-one with her. And when someone stumbles on a word or a passage in a book, either Yeater or her volunteer is there to speak for Roby.

“I hear back from teachers that the best way to get better at reading is to practice,” says Yeater, 38, of Stuart. “This is a non-intimidating way to practice reading, and it gives Roby a purpose.”

There’s much more . . .

Classroom Therapy Golden Harley


Education goes to the dogs at Enchanted Hills Elementary
By Gary Herron, Observer staff reporter

On most days, there’s no running in the halls at Enchanted Hills Elementary. Sometimes that rule gets overlooked, namely on Tuesdays and Thursdays when Harley visits. Harley is a Golden Retriever and on these two days he’s at work. Fully deputized (no kidding), he’s at work even though his regular handler, Dep. Joe Harris, is laid up after surgery.

The Kasey Dogs program is one of many sponsored by the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office; Enchanted Hills Elementary isn’t the only school to benefit by the canines’ presence, and Sheriff John Paul Trujillo has featured a Kasey Dog, with Santa cap added, on a “Be Safe During the Holidays” brochure available from his deputies.

“The kids missed him so much, the sheriff told Officer Harris it was OK — Harley still wanted to be on duty,” explains Cathy Gaarden, assistant principal. Harley lives with Joe and Tonia Harris, who teaches at Enchanted Hills Elementary.

“He’s great with special needs children,” Gaarden says, walking Harley – in truth, Harley’s walking her – to a “full inclusion” classroom that has special needs children plus children without special needs. That’s where second-grader Lance Gibbs is working on a Christmas project. His parents, Steve and Felicia Gibbs, see Harley romping their way and ask Lance if he’d like to take him for a walk.

Lance’s eyes light up. Is there a reason to ask again? Felicia Gibbs explains her son’s situation: He was dealt a strike before he was born, stricken with a stroke while still in the womb. He undergoes occupational and speech therapy, she says, and he has “some impairment on his left side from the stroke.”

As a result, her son has cerebral palsy, although she brightens long enough to note that, “He’s recovering from that and making a lot of progress.”

Soon Lance – a huge smile on his face – and his wheeled apparatus that helps him navigate are on the way down the hall. Lance has his hands full trying to keep rein on Harley, who somehow also seems to be smiling.

There is much more . . . .

Golden Retriever Lily helping Autistic Kids

Dog therapy helps autistic kids in Verplanck
By Robert Marchant, The Journal News

It was no ordinary field trip for middle-school students from the Ardsley School District when they paid a visit to a dog-boarding facility in Verplanck yesterday. It was part of an ongoing educational and therapy session for students with autism, and the therapy came in the form of wagging tails, sloppy licks and furry hugs.

The 10 kids spent an hour making friends with pets at Canine Kindergarten, which takes in dogs for short visits and extended stays.

Matthew Dietz, 15, of Rye was soon covered in dog hair after petting and playing with the dogs, and smiling ear to ear. He wrapped his arm around a fuzzy Labradoodle named Pippin and fed him a treat as a look of delight etched his features. Using the sign language he has been learning through the Ardsley program, Matthew announced, “I want a dog.”

Michael Kulsha, 11, of Dobbs Ferry whistled and waved at a friendly golden retriever named Lily, then got down on the floor for some play time with the dog, getting a few licks for his troubles. Stephanie Garrido, 13, of Valhalla held a furry little Shih Tzu named Mundo in her lap and slowly brushed her hair, the two making a portrait of serene contentment.

It wasn’t always this way.

There’s more . . . .

Heavens to Golden Betsy: GReat Teacher’s Pet

betsy_special_education_classroom.jpgTeacher’s pet – Teacher uses service dog in Mattawa classroom
By Mike Johnston, Daily Record

Betsy, a 50-pound, 2 1/2-year-old golden retriever, climbs into a van every weekday morning at 6:30 in Kittitas for a 40-minute commute with teachers heading to Wahluke School District in Grant County where the dog is an important part of a special education class.

This is Betsy’s second year of work in a 13-student life skills class at Mattawa Elementary School run by Kittitas Valley resident Tracy Arlt of Fairview Road. Her students, ranging in age from 5 to 10 years old, have a variety of physical, mental and developmental disabilities. “Just like all of us, Betsy comes back on the van with us to Kittitas around 4:30 in afternoon pretty tired from her job,” said Tracy, 43, a valley native who came back to the valley in 2004 with her husband and fellow teacher, Richard Arlt, and their four children. “When I got Betsy, I knew she would help the class, but I didn’t realize how much. I’ve seen Betsy help make a huge difference in some kids’ lives.”


One young elementary student with neurological issues came to Tracy’s class in spring 2006 because he was disruptive in a special ed class and needed help controlling his behavior. When he was brought to Tracy’s class he immediately went underneath a table and stayed there. “He was very withdrawn, nonverbal and painfully quiet and shy,” Tracy said. “He would rock back and forth under the table. We sent Betsy under there to be with him.”

Betsy, with her big, wet-brown eyes and soft, warm fur, leaned gently against the boy on the first day. On the second day the boy put his hand on Betsy; on the third day the boy was hugging her; and on the fifth day the boy put his arms around the dog’s neck.

As the dog came out from under the table, the boy did, too. Tracy said the boy learned how to do discipline exercises with the dog, and all this gave the boy confidence and a sense of focus and control in his life. “He’s now in a regular classroom setting,” Tracy said. “It completely turned him around. It was absolutely amazing. Betsy provided a calming, friendly feeling of assurance and acceptance.

Service dogs

Tracy, now into her 15th year of special ed teaching, was at Papa Murphy’s in Ellensburg three years ago and met a woman with a service dog in training. Tracy learned from the woman that such dogs also are trained to help in classrooms and are especially good with disabled children. “I kept thinking I had students who could benefit from a dog like that,” she said.

Tracy, with her interest sparked and her love of animals, went online to research the possibilities. She found a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group called the National Education for Assistance Dog Service, or NEADS. After more research and talks with her principal and reviews by the Wahluke School Board, obtaining a dog was approved. The district in late August 2005 sent Tracy to Boyleston, Mass., for intensive training with Betsy. The district paid for the flights to and from, expenses and the $600 fee for the dog.

Tracy built a strong relationship during this crucial week with Betsy. “All along I’ve received great support from the school district, from staff in my school and from parents and students,” Tracy said. Tracy returned to work a week and a half after school began in September 2005.

The motivator

Betsy is a great motivator in the classroom with her lovable, gentle personality and forgiving attitude when inadvertently roughed up by the kids, Tracy said. Time with the dog helps kids learn to focus, be more still and control their social behavior. Students learn they can have time controlling the dog when they can work to keep themselves in control.

A kid reluctant to practice reading is asked to “read” to Betsy and the student suddenly is motivated. Students struggling with impulse control learn to take turns walking or brushing the dog. In one case, a child not wanting to learn how to roll the wheels of her wheelchair was told she could walk Betsy alongside her wheelchair. The child quickly learned to move her wheelchair. Betsy also brings a calming influence to situations when a child is anxious or physically acting out frustrations.

Tracy is now the state representative for NEADS, a certified trainer of teachers using service dogs and has made presentations about using service dogs at teacher conferences.

There’s more…..

Golden Bailey Stimulating Speech


All in a (dog) day’s work
Animal assistants now play a role in healing and recovery

BY Alison Freehling, Daily Press

Every few minutes, Shani Ha glanced hopefully at the door of her speech therapist’s office and patted her leg – the sign language motion for “dog.” When a panting, tail-wagging golden retriever named Bailey shuffled into the room, Shani was instantly more excited about doing her vocal exercises. “I want ball, please,” the 5-year-old York County girl signed to therapist Amanda Beavers, struggling to mouth some of the words. When Bailey caught the somewhat slobbery tennis ball tossed his way, Shani, who has Down syndrome, beamed and danced.

“The dogs are such a motivator for the children,” said Beavers, one of several therapists who has started using specially trained animals at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters health center in Newport News. “They relax or they get so excited that they just try harder and cooperate more.”

Shani was working with a therapy dog when she put together two spoken words – “Go, dog” – for the first time, Beavers added. “My mouth just dropped in amazement,” she said. Those are the kinds of results driving a growing movement to pair animals with patients who have a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, including heart disease, dementia, cerebral palsy and autism.

While dogs and other critters might be only a small part of a therapeutic program, research has shown they can motivate patients and bring real improvements in blood pressure, anxiety and pain levels. In response, doctors and therapists have moved beyond such well-known concepts as guide dogs for the blind or furry visitors to cheer up patients at nursing homes and hospitals.

At CHKD’s Peninsula center, physical, speech and occupational therapists started using dogs from the hospital’s expanding “Buddy Brigade” several months ago and now get about two visits a month. The team of 28 dogs, whose owners volunteer their time, have trained to work with patients and taken tests to make sure they have gentle temperaments.

The dogs can help with a wide variety of skills, therapists say. Children who lack mobility or coordination can walk the animals, throw balls or take their leashes on and off. Kids who don’t like to be touched can pet them to feel different textures against their skin. At a recent appointment, one boy honed his fine motor skills by scooping out a little peanut butter as a treat for Bailey.

“He fed the dog, and then he took a bite of food himself,” said Rhonda Allen, an occupational therapist. “A lot of the kids get really into the dogs. We do a lot of experimenting with what works well. There’s no book on doing it – we’re just adapting the exercises that we usually do to include the dogs.”

There’s more……. 

Golden Vivi does Help


Therapy dog helps students
By John Richmeier, Times Staff Writer

Lying under a desk might not be acceptable behavior for most personnel at David Brewer Elementary, but an exception is made for ViVi.

The golden retriever could be found under the desk of school social worker and counselor Diana Jacobson one afternoon last week. But the dog, who’s been given the full name of ViVi Brewer, was still able to perform her duties as a counselor dog as students who stopped by the office seemed eager to sit on the floor and reach under the desk to pet her.

ViVi is a professional therapy dog and spends her days at the school. “She’s actually part of the staff,” Jacobson said.

She said ViVi, who’s “very low key,” can help de-escalate anger issues and comfort children who are upset. Jacobson said students spend time reading and talking to the animal. “The kids always want to pet her,” Jacobson said.

There’s more

Christa’s Winning Ways

Dog serves as companion, motivator

Students at Smoky Row Elementary are finding Christa hard to resist. They often flock to her side to run their fingers through her silky blonde hair. But Christa isn’t a new student at the school. She’s a 2-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix and certified companion animal.”I’m finding it takes a long time to get anywhere (in the school),” said Anne Grubbs, a resource teacher and Christa’s handler.

Grubbs and school Principal Kelly Davis had been trying to start a companion animal program at Smoky Row. They learned their application to Canine Companions for Independence had been approved right before school started. Grubbs trained with Christa for a week in Ohio, and she takes the dog home with her when school is not in session.

Christa already has made a noticeable impact on several students, she said. “Christa’s presence is a motivator for kids who are reluctant to try new things and helps calm kids who are easily frustrated,” Grubbs said. “Rewarding kids (by giving them jobs) with Christa is a motivator for them to maintain socially acceptable behavior.

“With some of these kids, it’s good for them to be able to care for something or be responsible for something other than themselves.”


Harley’s Hangin’ with the Kids

Harley’s Hangin’ with the Kids
Golden Retriever at Brighton High each day with Security Chief

By Marketta Gregory, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Staff writer

Harley’s pretty popular around Brighton High School. When he walks the halls or wanders through a classroom, hands just automatically reach out to pet him. He gets Christmas presents from students and apparently too many snacks from teachers because his veterinarian would like him to lose a little weight.But it all seems to come easily for the 92-pound golden retriever who goes to work every day with Steve Harrison, head of security at the school. “This dog should be shared with others because of his temperament,” said Harrison as Harley walked along beside him, wagging his tail as people approached.

Harrison started bringing Harley four years ago, when he was just 7 weeks old. Sometimes, during class change, Harrison would have to duck into a classroom to keep from being swarmed by students who wanted to see the puppy. But soon, he noticed something else.

“I saw the kids’ reaction and saw that they would mellow out” when Harley was around, Harrison said. So he kept bringing Harley, who has since been certified as a therapy dog and obviously feels at home in the school.

The dog has his own Brighton High School ID — complete with photo — that hangs off his collar. He often has his picture in the yearbook and he even has routine snack stops, including the main office where his water bowl sits.


Golden Dublin is a Welcome Guest in the Classroom

By Ryn Gargulinski, Pilot staff writer

In most cases, age 42 is a tad old to be hanging around a first grade classroom.

But not in the case of Dublin. And although she’s 42 in human years, she’s only six in dog years, and has been a fixture in Dan Rotterman’s Kalmiopsis Elementary School class for the last five of those.

Dogs were first allowed to come to the classroom when then-principal Chris Nichols approved the idea, Rotterman said.

“Dublin is such a joy to have in the classroom,” Rotterman said of the golden retriever – and the students agree.

On Tuesday, Dublin’s first day at school this year, students took any chance they could to either pet, pat or take a peek at the dog – but not, of course, at the expense of their studies.

Read more …..