When people experience a tragic event and receive help from individuals or community, many give back in some way to show their appreciation.
But it’s not just people who give back after experiencing a traumatic time in life – animals do too. In our community there is a rescued dog that is now giving back.
Six years ago, Newton, a Chocolate Lab / Shar Pei, was one of 30 dogs and three cats rescued after being left abandoned in a second floor apartment in Jamestown, N.Y. No one knows how long the animals were there without human care.
After almost a year going from one shelter to another, Newton ended up at Animal Care Sanctuary (ACS) in East Smithfield. He was considered difficult to adopt because he had a loud rough sounding bark and usually barked when anyone came by the kennel to see the dogs.
But in February 2012, Newton was adopted and found his forever home. And after settling in, he proved himself to be a very quiet, calm and loving dog, only barking when someone came to the door – the perfect watchdog. But Newton was also a good companion and very quickly became part of the family. He especially loved to ride in the car.
Last spring, ACS offered a behavior class for dogs that was a prerequisite to the training needed for therapy pet certification through Love On A Leash (LOAL).
LOAL is a nonprofit organization started in the early 1980’s in San Diego when a group of people realized the power of pet therapy. They have become dedicated to providing an avenue for volunteer pet therapy teams to engage in meaningful and productive animal assisted therapy. Through LOAL pets and their handlers obtain the necessary training and certification in order to provide joy, warmth and emotional support to others through pet therapy.
“ACS is so excited to have classes for therapy dogs and cats,” said Joan Smith-Reese, ACS director. “The response from the community is overwhelming and we are anxious to share their love and compassion with those that are lonely, infirm or just in need of a hug by a furry friend.”
Newton’s owner thought that because he was such a calm, loving dog, he would be a perfect therapy dog.
After four weeks of the behavior class at ACS with Connie Dwyer, Certified Animal Behavior consultant, and then ten hours of internship at Bradford County Manor and Sayre Personal Care Center, Newton passed with flying colors. He became a certified therapy pet through LOAL.
“Certainly having a therapy dog who is official, having the proper training has been a tremendous benefit to our residents,” said Pam Brown, Recreational Therapy director at Bradford County Manor.
“Newton is always a joy – very sweet and calm,” said Becky Keir, activities director at Sayre Personal Care Center. “We love Newton!”
There are other dogs in the area that are working towards therapy pet certification by doing internships at the Manor and other places. Sylvia Ellis brought her Silky Terrier, Ruby, to the Manor for her internship. Ruby also received initial training from Dwyer at ACS.
According to Brown, these dogs are very well behaved. They’re not afraid of wheelchairs and walkers, or of the different noises occasionally heard.
Newton continues to visit his friends at Bradford County Manor and Sayre Personal Care Center. He is a dog that appreciates the love he has after living in such horrific conditions many years ago. He is now giving back.
“The residents look forward to Newton’s arrival every Monday,” said Brown.
At Sayre Personal Care Center, Joan Moody said to Newton, “You’re the dog who makes everybody feel good.”
Newton is also giving back to young people. The Bradford County Library has started a program to help young readers called “Read to Newton.”
“Newton is a kind listener,” said Rebecca Troup-Hodgdon, children’s librarian at Bradford County Library. “Oftentimes kids just need an extra incentive to practice reading. Newton provides a fun and patient listener.”
For more information about behavior classes or pet adoptions, contact ACS by calling (570) 596–2200.
October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog” month. But any month is a good one for adopting a friend. And there are lots of dogs like Newton waiting for the opportunity to give back.