This Oscar is no grouch.
The 6-year-old Dachshund volunteers with his owner Robin Douglas as a therapy dog at several locations in Wisconsin. But in addition to his typical duties, snuggling with residents at Agrace Hospice Care, for instance, or visiting with students from a local college, he has a special gimmick—wearing festive costumes.
Oscar has an array of different outfits for special occasions—most recently, he donned a leprechaun hat and shamrock handkerchief for St. Patrick’s Day, which earned him a spot on a local news station, and a bunny getup for Easter. For Halloween, he represents his breed in a traditional “wiener dog” costume or as a banana split (pictured above).
Douglas explains that her goal in volunteering with Oscar, particularly at Agrace, is to brighten the day of staff and residents who otherwise might be stressed. “A goofy dog coming by in a ridiculous outfit is a good way to make them laugh,” says Douglas. “It gives them a break from everything they’re dealing with.”
But Oscar is able to make an impression even when he goes au naturel. “He’s very calm. He’ll just sit there and let people pet him, and can adjust his demeanor to the people he’s working with,” says Douglas. “It’s an instinctive thing. He just knows when someone needs comforting.”
Douglas further explains that having a dog visit places like nursing homes is important because it can help provide an enriching environment. “It makes their lives a little more normal—no matter what the setting is. For some people it’s the highlight of their week,” she says. “If you can get your dog to help people have a little semblance of normality, it's really powerful.”
Interested in getting involved in therapy work? Click here to find more information on AKC’s therapy dog title as well as contact information for several certifying organizations for therapy dogs.
See Oscar in action: