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AKC Title Recognition Awards

The AKC now works with several non-AKC service and sports organizations to recognize the titles that AKC-registered dogs earn in their programs. This includes the AKC Therapy Dog titling program and the AKC Search & Rescue title program. AKC also recognizes titles of the Barn Hunt Association (BHA); North American Diving Dogs (NADD); and the North American Flyball Association (NAFA). For more information on how to apply for AKC recognition of these titles, go to: Read on to meet some of the All-American Dogs who are recent achievers in these sports.

AKC Therapy Dog Title
The AKC Therapy Dog Title program offers titles based on the amount of service that a therapy team has volunteered, giving more dogs the opportunity to earn the honor. Dogs also must be certified by an AKC-recognized therapy dog organization. The titles are:

  • AKC Therapy Dog Novice (THDN). Must have completed 10 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog (THD). Must have completed 50 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA). Must have completed 100 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Excellent (THDX). Must have completed 200 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished (THDD). Must have completed 400 visits.

We salute these All-Americans who are recent recipients of the THDD title for 400 or more visits!

Nelson THDD CGC owned by Jeff Petermann of Sugar Hill, GA
Nelson was pulled from a shelter by a rescue group and spent his next year waiting to be adopted.

Despite an unfortunate start to life, Nelson was an extremely easy-going Cairn Terrier mix and, after being adopted by Jeff, began his Happy Tails pet therapy career on Dec. 31, 2011.

Over the next six years, he was a regular at retirement centers, hospitals, psychiatric wards, the VA, rehabilitation and children’s facilities, and, once, a funeral home.

Though not a therapy-related task, he participated in an Emory University study on how dogs process information in which he was required to take fully awake MRIs.

“At about 17 pounds, he was small enough to easily lie in a patient’s bed while being petted and, always eager to please, was quite content to do that… especially if the TV was on. Mercifully enough, he didn’t bark at the animals he saw while he was on the clock – quite unlike when he was at home!” Jeff said.

Tragically, on March 21, 2017, on their way home from Nelson’s 383rd visit and one month after his 10th birthday, he was killed in an automobile accident.

“The AKC was kind enough to forgive the 17 visits that he wasn’t able to make and awarded Nelson VII the THDD title and his CGC posthumously on Sept. 6, 2017,” Jeff said.

Nelson THDD

PepperJack THDD TKA owned by Christine Bourgeois of Ballston Lake, NY
PepperJack is a mixed breed dog rescued in Greenville, SC, at the age of 6 months. After being adopted by Christine, PepperJack started his career as a certified therapy dog at the age of 3 years.
He has logged most of his time as a Canine Comfort Dog at Albany International Airport, greeting travelers, police and TSA agents; deployed military recruits; staff; and families with children and pets. Each visit lasts for at least one to two hours at least twice weekly. PepperJack was recently recognized for serving the airport’s Canine Ambassador program and logging more than 750 hours over the past four years.

He has attended Patriot Flight ceremonies in route to Washington, DC, and Make-a-Wish Foundation events. At the hospital, PepperJack visits patients, families and staff on all floors, waiting rooms, hospice, detox unit, intensive care, staff rooms, and the medical college during interns’ residencies and training semesters.

Christine and PepperJack have also visited women’s shelters, senior housing, city and suburban elementary schools, day-hab for senior citizens, Pet Expos, Flag Day Parades recognizing therapy dog units, church-community festivals, Air National Guard Family Days, and summer recreation youth programs.

PepperJack recently qualified as a Disaster Stress Relief dog for Therapy Dogs International. He has earned three levels of AKC Trick Dog titles and continues with agility for both competition and demonstrations.

In November 2017, PepperJack completed 400 visits, receiving the AKC Distinguished Therapy Dog Award.

Pepperjack THDD

Mr. Gibbs THDD CGCA owned by Tawanda Harbison of Newark, DE
Earning Mr. Gibbs’ THDD means a lot to Tawanda Harbison because “six years ago, I didn’t think I would be alive, let alone have such an amazing companion,” she said.

“Mr. Gibbs is a rescue, but he rescued me,” Tawanda said. “I was at death’s door at 69 pounds. I could not walk and had very little hair. This was all from anorexia. I also had agoraphobia and hadn’t left the house in years.”

The pair bonded instantly. Two years after Tawanda got Mr. Gibbs, she joined Paws for People, founded in 2005 by Lynne Robinson, in Newark, DE. With Mr. Gibbs, she visits Somerford House assisted living, Aquila of Delaware (substance abuse recovery), Rockford Center (inpatient psychiatric), Seasons Hospice, and the Cecil County Health Department (substance abuse recovery).

They also participate in a reading program through which children read to dogs. They visit a children’s hospital and a pediatric medical daycare.

“Mr. Gibbs loves his job and getting to go to different places. I am so lucky to have found him. I owe him so much,” she said.

Mr. Gibbs is 7 years old and has been a therapy dog since 2013.

Mr Gibbs THDD

Rodney Schinski THDD CGC, owned by Carol Lynn Schinski of Rutherford, NJ
Nine-year-old Rodney became a certified therapy dog on April 11, 2011, when he passed the test at Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs.

In 2015, Rodney was nominated for the AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) and although he did not win, he was awarded an honorable mention and was featured in an article in a 2016 issue of AKC Family Dog magazine. In October 2017, Rodney earned the AKC Canine Good Citizen title in addition to the AKC Distinguished Therapy Dog title for completing more than 400 visits.

Rodney visits group homes, nursing homes, assisted living homes, Easter Seals day care, various disabled and handicapped day care sites, and Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ. Carol and Rodney have also made visits to senior centers and Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Daisy and Brownie meetings to make presentations about therapy dogs and the services they provide.

Carol said they have found working with autistic children to be very rewarding.  “When you can get a non-verbal child to speak to the dog… it just makes it all worthwhile.”

They also love volunteering for children’s reading programs. “As a child, I loved to read and spent hours at my library. Thus, when local libraries asked for a therapy dog for a reading program, we jumped at the chance. I truly feel that when you can get children to read, you open the world to them.”

Rodney averages more than 200 visits per year and has been working as a therapy dog since 2011. That brings this team to about 1,200 visits, and they are still going strong.

Rodney THDD

Jubilee Walmsley THDD owned by Paul Walmsley of Shenandoah, VA
Jubilee had a rough start in life, but today is in a loving home and is giving love to hundreds of people in need of support.

“After his escape attempts from an abusive home, we were finally able to take possession of Jubilee,” Paul said. “His initial training showed him to be sweet, loving and eager to please and led us to training as a therapy dog.”

With Jubilee’s training complete, they began the first of more than 400 facility visits, seeing more than 10,000 patients in four years.

Hospitals, nursing homes, children’s reading programs, burn camps and VA Hospitals are all on his list of accomplishments.

“Since losing his beloved Mommy in September, he has soldiered on, and on Dec. 1, 2017, AKC honored him with the THDD title,” Paul said.

Jubilee THDD

Congratulations also to these THDDs:

  • Antonio’s Buddy THDD CGC owned by Michelle Antonio of Benicia, CA
  • Clark’s Logan UD BN GO VER RE OAP OJP THDD CGCA owned by Kathy J. Clark of Chino, CA
  • Conrad Of Timberfield THDD owned by Steven and Eileen Lesser of Pikesville, MD
  • Molly Stamp THDD owned by Vickie Stamp of Mansfield, TX
  • Clifford – My Big Red Dog THDD owned by Patricia Baxter of Gig Harbor, WA
  • Shoemaker’s Charlie THDD CGC owned by Judy Shoemaker of Winter Haven, FL
  • Hearst CDX PCD BN GN RE THDD CGCA CGCU TKN owned by Patricia Murphy of Croton on Hudson, NY

Barn Hunt Association

The BHA enables all dogs to participate in the sport of hunting for vermin. Dogs track rats safely enclosed in sturdy tubes that are hidden among hay bales. The titles range from Novice level to Champion to Champion Excellent. Go to for more information.
Congratulations to All-American Dogs who recently received recognition of their BHA titles:

RATCH X (Barn Hunt Master Champion)

  • Boo Boo Jackson RA OAP OJP RATCHX TKA owned by Lisa Steller of Advance, NC


  • MACH PACH Bradley’s Brandy RN MXG MJS MXP5 MXPS MJP4 MJPB PAX OF XFP T2B2 T2BP RATCHX2 CGCA CGCU TKI owned by Alison and Kevin Bradley of Fayetteville, AR

RATCH (Barn Hunt Champion)

MACH2 PACH2 Boots II FDC MXS MJS MXP5 MXPS MJP6 MJPS PAX2 T2BP RATCH CGC owned by Bari & Scott Boersma of Winchester, CA
Boots is a 9-year-old Border Collie and Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix that Bari calls a “Borgi.” She discovered Boots’ love for Barn Hunt by accident one day before agility class when her trainer was holding a practice.

“All of a sudden, my four-time agility champion was rapidly moving up to the Master level!” she said.

Boots earned his RATCH championship at Dynamic Dogs Barn Hunt on Aug. 19, 2017 in Sanger, CA. “I could not be prouder of Boots and all his accomplishments,” Bari said.


North America Diving Dogs

NADD offers titles in both distance dock jumping and air retrieve for all dogs. Dogs receive titles based on how far they jump and only compete in the same division with dogs that jump similar distances. For more information go to

Congratulations to this All-American Dog for receiving AKC recognition of the top-level Dock Elite (DE) title for making five jumps over 23 feet:

  • Scorch-N-Hot DE CGC owned by Beth L. Copeland of El Cajon, CA

North American Flyball Association
AKC recognizes three titles of NAFA competitors – the Flyball Dog Champion (FDCh) for 500 points; Flyball Master (FM) for 5,000 points; and the Onyx award for 20,000 points. For more information on NAFA and how to get involved go to

Congratulations to this All-American Dog for earning the ONYX:

  • MACH Resq’s Dopamine Rush RN MXB MJS MXF T2B ONYX CGCA owned by Rosemary Strasser & Miguel Ordorica of Omaha, NE
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