Jackson, a Golden Retriever owned by Bob Wharton
Jackson is an eight-year-old Golden Retriever owned by Bob Wharton. Jackson has been a Certified Therapy Dog for six years and completed more than 1,400 visits. He has also earned his CGC, Trick Dog Advance and Therapy Dog Distinguished titles. Jackson also holds Therapy Dogs International Titles of TDI Gold and Tail Waggin’ Tutors and has received a “Certificate of Recognition” from his township. He is presently a Certified Therapy Dog with Angel On A Leash, “America’s Therapy Dogs”.
In this trying time, Jackson and Bob haven’t been able to do their regular visits due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, this hasn’t stopped the duo from visiting the people who need them – they have continued to do virtual therapy visits with Independent and Memory Care Facilities and 1st-3rd graders at two Elementary Schools twice a week through photos and videos. Jackson is even the main character in a children’s book written and illustrated by Bob. The book has been sent electronically to the homes of the children from the 1st grade class that they visit for the children to read to their families during this stay at home order. In such an unsettling time, Jackson and Bob continue to bring smiles and comfort to the people around them who need it most.
Molly, a Vizsla owned by Connie Priesz
Molly, officially known as Little Girl Molly RN THDD CGCA CGCU TKP RATN NSD, is a ten-year-old Vizsla owned by Connie Priesz. Molly has been a registered therapy animal with Pet Partners for nine years. They also belong to North Star Therapy Animals, a twin cities group of registered Pet Partner therapy animals.
Since the COVID-19 stay at home order, Connie and Molly have taken steps to stay connected in order to continue to bring comfort and joy. In an effort to change to virtual visits, the therapy dog team has made movies while reading a book, for schools, libraries and social media sites to share and have made virtual visit videos for the patients at the VA hospital they usually visit. In addition, Connie and Molly have joined the AKC PupPals program, submitting countless videos to those in need and have sent cards and pictures to all the sites they typically visit. The pair also created a Facebook group called “The Therapy Animal Space” for people with animals to stay connected and share stories during this global crisis.
These new trying times have made Connie and Molly think differently about how to help bring adventures and connections to those who need a smile. They plan to continue to serve their community and beyond by using technology to bring the effects of the human-animal bond to more people and reach even further as they work in this new way.
Phoebe, Belgian Tervuren owned by Dr. Pamela Regan
Phoebe, officially known as CH Patana’s Flash Point, BN, RN, NA, NAJ, PT, FDC, CA, CGCA, CGCU, SDPRO, TKE, is a 10-year-old Belgian Tervuren owned by Dr. Pamela Regan. As part of her ongoing work as an AKC Canine Ambassador, Phoebe is used to participating in public demonstrations about training, responsible dog ownership, performance sports, how to greet a dog, meet the breeds, and other important topics at schools, fairs, museums, and similar venues. Of course, all those fun public demos came to a halt in March due to the nationwide efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
But that didn’t stop Pamela and Phoebe from continuing their work as an AKC Canine Ambassador team. The pair created several videos for the AKC PupPals program and have been regularly going on “front yard visits” to individual homes and assisted living facilities for the past six weeks. During these visits, Phoebe performs tricks and stunts while her audience is safely sheltered inside and watching from their windows. Although her Harry-Potter themed tricks are a favorite among the younger generation, the Obedience and Agility tricks – in particular, scent work, “Can Phoebe count?”, hand signals, hoop jumps, retrieving, and weave poles – are the crowd favorites!
Phoebe is a big-hearted, willing dog, who works so tirelessly to bring joy, entertainment, and social connection to people’s lives during these uncertain times.
'Dogtor' Loki, a Rottweiler owned by Caroline Benzel
‘Dogtor’ Loki, a two-year-old Rottweiler, is a therapy dog owned by Caroline Benzel, a medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Loki is delivering care packages and smiles in an effort to give back to medical professionals working on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. When the COVID-19 outbreak put a halt to in-person therapy visits, Caroline and Dogtor Loki took to their electronic devices to continue their therapy work virtually.
During the virtual visits, Caroline noticed the doctors and nurses being irritated from the constant use of the personal protective equipment and knew she had to do something. She began putting together care packages, which she calls “hero healing kits,” and delivering them to front-line workers with Loki’s help. The dynamic duo has personally delivered more than 5,500 kits and the campaign has taken off nationally, with similar projects started in eight other states. Through generous donations, Caroline and Loki have raised more than $80,000 for the kits, personal protective equipment, food and supplies for frontline workers.
The Go Team Therapy Dogs
The GO TEAM is an active group of 600+ handler/therapy dog teams working across the United States and Italy. These teams have volunteered with first responders and firefighters during times of crisis including shootings, suicides, floods, fires, and major disasters among other catastrophic events. Teams have also made special visits to countless schools, colleges, hospices, hospitals, and other special events.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many of the teams around the country had to make changes to their normal routine. Several therapy teams paired up with teachers to do virtual Paws2Read sessions, and many began virtual therapy visits with their patients. Some have also participated in drive-by visits to assisted living homes, fire departments, graduations, birthdays and more. The Go Team therapy dogs have given out hundreds of trading cards which include photos and information of each dog on them and many are actively putting together care packages with essential items to deliver to seniors who may be unable to get out of their houses. As the country is slowly opening, the Go Team is following the city regulated COVID guidelines to plan their future visits. During this trying time, the Go Team therapy dogs have been bringing comfort and relief to people throughout the United States and beyond.