12-year-old Youth and Former Shelter Dog Make Dynamite Therapy Team

Twelve-year-old Maelynn Rose and her bully-breed mix, Troy, first met in the shelter when Maelynn was just 4 years old and her family was looking for her first dog. Troy came and sat by her feet and that was it. Today, the two are a therapy dog team that bring great cheer to nursing center clients. They also compete in AKC Obedience and Rally.

Name: Maelynn Rose
Age: 12 years old
Grade: Seventh
Hometown: Huber Heights, OH
Family: Parents, Rob and Patty Rose

How did Troy come into your family’s life and how did you choose him? How old is Troy and do you know what breed/mix he is?
I had been begging Dad for a dog for years. When I was 4, he finally gave in, and we went to Indianapolis to get Troy. He was at a shelter called Casa del Toro, who focuses on re-homing dogs who are part of the pitbull family. Troy was in a pen with about eight other dogs. We had looked at him and one of the other males online. We knew that Troy was ours when I went into the pen, and he came and sat right at my feet. He fell asleep on my lap during the car ride home.

Our best guess is that Troy is a Staffordshire Terrier mixed with a Boxer. His dam was a full Staffie; we have no clue about his sire. Troy will turn 8 years old in September.

What got you started in training Troy? Is your family involved in dog activities? Are you involved with 4H?
We had taken him to training classes when we first got him, so training him was always important to us. I was a part of that training as well because he was a family dog. I took over the full training of Troy when I joined 4H. I was 8 years old, and joined the Happy Tails 4H Club in Clark County. I have been a part of this club for four years. 

How did you get interested in therapy work? What makes Troy a good candidate as a therapy dog? How close is he to becoming certified and with what organization?
I had a really close friend, Don McCall, who was in a nursing home. When he came to visit our home, he really loved visiting with Troy. After he passed away, I heard about 4H PetPALS and decided to do it because I realized how much senior adults loved to be visited by kids and animals.

Troy is a great therapy dog because he is very laid back and will let me do anything with him. He loves to be petted and get attention. He also is not afraid of new places or loud noises. Troy has his AKC Canine Good Citizen title and is certified through Ohio 4H PetPALS. He earned his AKC Therapy Dog Novice title in June.

What do you like best about working with Troy?
Troy is my best friend. He has a lot of personality and is a big goof ball! Although he may not always do what I ask, he is always willing to try new things, especially when it involves treats! Besides being a big goof ball, he loves to snuggle with me.

In addition to therapy work, what other sports do you and Troy enjoy? What titles is he working on?
Troy and I participate in many things through 4H. We do showmanship, Novice obedience, Novice rally, and freestyle (although I haven't done a competition with freestyle yet). I take classes at the Gem City Dog Obedience Club to help Troy and me work better together. Troy has one leg in each of his AKC titles in Beginner Novice Obedience and Novice Rally.

Do you own any other dogs or pets? Any others that you compete with and in what sports?
I just bought my first AKC pure-bred, a 9 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Titan. I saved up for him myself and have done all of his training! He will be shown in AKC Conformation and, in 4H, he will be doing Obedience and Rally. I hope to start Agility with him as well. I also have a Leopard Gecko named Spots. I used him to complete a 4H Reptile project, and one of my 4H friends uses him as a PetPALS animal. Besides that, he just hangs in his cage!

What are your future goals with Troy?
This fall, I hope to finish his AKC Obedience and Rally titles. We will also be continuing our PetPALS visits in order to get our 50 visits required for the next title! I also hope to compete in a Freestyle competition with him.

Do you plan do to something animal-related as a career?
 I'm really not sure. I know I don't want to be a vet because I can't stand to see animals being hurt. Maybe I'll be a dog trainer or a breeder, but I have many other interests as well. Hey, I'm only 12.

When you are not working Troy, what other activities do you enjoy?
I am a Girl Scout Cadette, and through Girl Scouts, I do many service projects. The last one was for my Bronze award. I served for 25 hours at the local Cancer Center helping to cheer up the patients there. I also enjoy reading, singing, and acting. I love to ride my bike and go camping with my dad. I love art, drawing, and fashion designing. I like to sew and make my own clothes and costumes.