Annie’s First Birthday!

This month we will be celebrating Annie Hope’s 1st birthday.  I thought I would share a little about Annie and how we came to have her as part of Hope and Growth Center.  Annie is not the first dog I have gotten in hopes of training to be a therapy dog.  I have had two other dogs that I wanted to be able to train for therapy dogs.  What I have learned is that not every dog is cut out to be an official certified therapy dog.  The first dog we got for a therapy dog was a female miniature poodle named Alice.  At the time we adopted her into our family, I was working as a preschool director and finishing up my degree.  She started going to work with me when she was eight weeks old. She was a hit with the kids and calmed many crying toddlers. However, circumstances lead to Alice needing to stay home.  It was hard to keep her socialized after that.  She needed to be around many different people and dogs. Because I was going to graduate school, working and caring for a family of five, it was too much.  Though she was smart and well trained, she would not have passed the certification test because she would growl at other dogs mainly out of fear. She was the best pet and therapy dog for our family though!  

After receiving my professional license, I thought it would be a great time to begin the process again.  This time I rescued a puppy from the Humane Society.  Colby is a mix of breeds.  I was told that he was Retriever and Spaniel.  I was super excited because I thought he was a great mix for a therapy dog.  Well, that was not true.  He was not Retriever at all, but did have some Spaniel. I signed him up for training and he did well the first class and graduated.  He was very nervous around other dogs though, and at times would get aggressive.  I was also working for someone else at the time and I did not have the freedom to bring him when I chose to the office.  We did not continue with training after he showed he was so nervous around other dogs.  He just was not going to work as a therapy dog.  We still have him and he is great with our pack (grandkids, grand dogs and cats, and people).  He is also very good with Annie.  She follows him wherever he goes.  

For years I have wanted to try again with a therapy dog but because I had two fails… I was not sure if I should try again.  It is quite an investment of funds and time for training.  But after we began to grow as a business, I decided I was ready.  My requirements to find the right dog were that it did not shed and most people would not be allergic.  I also needed it to have the potential of being smart and sweet.  I realize that this does not make any difference but I also preferred a black and white dog.  I do not know why, but that is what I preferred.  I had been looking for a couple of months when I found Annie.  My husband and I went to meet her and to see if she had the qualities we were looking for in a therapy dog.  When the person handed her to us, she was very calm and curled up on my lap.  When we showed interest, they brought out her sister, who was not as calm and we quickly knew we had made the right choice.  We brought her home that day.  Annie has been handled by all four of our grandchildren from very young.  When she hears a child or baby cry at the office, she gets very upset and wants out of my office to go find who is crying.  Annie has been coming to work with me since she was ten weeks old. She has been a blessing to all of the counselors who sometimes just need some Annie love.  She sleeps quite a bit during session but has begun to be present with different clients.  She has even been able to be in with other counselors from time to time.  Annie has a couple more classes she has to attend and master before she can test for the certification.  We are working on greeting clients in the waiting room.  She loves to get treats from clients.  We have a jar of treats in the waiting room for clients to share with Annie.  

Annie is a Shih-Poo.  She is part Shih Tzu and part Poodle.  She is probably as big as she is going to get.  Annie lives with myself, Sarah Bentz, the owner of Hope and Growth Center, and my husband.  She also has her fur family of two cats: Shadow and Cali and Colby, the second dog I had hoped to be a therapy dog.  Annie loves to play with the male cat, Shadow.  They wrestle and chase each other.  She gets along with our grand dogs and cats as well.  Annie has already been such a blessing to so many.  Sometimes just having her in the office makes people smile.  

The organization that hopefully Annie will be certified with is called, Pet Partners.  It is a national organization that advocates for pets and human interactions, trains, certifies, and organizes therapy pets to visit facilities.  This month they are raising funds for the organization by having a Best Pet Contest.  We have registered Annie to be voted on and raise funds.  The pet with the most money raised wins.  We are asking you to help us celebrate Annie’s 1st Birthday and donate to a great organization.  All donations will be appreciated. 

 Here is the link to donate:  https://p2p.onecause.com/pppetoftheyear/sarah-bentz

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