Service and Therapy Dog
Hall of Fame
We are so proud of the Nicholberry puppies who go on to do therapy and service work. This is an area of tremendous passion for us, so it is incredibly gratifying to see a puppy we brought into this world sitting next to the hospital bed of a sick person, reading with a reluctant child, or soothing the anxiety of a veteran. If you email me about the potential of raising your Golden Retriever to be a therapy or service dog, prepare yourself for an exuberant response!
We have developed our breeding program with the intention that every puppy will have the ingredients necessary to do therapy and service work, regardless of whether they actually go on to do so. Our breeding program is focused on raising emotionally resilient, healthy puppies who possess the confidence and balance to grow into service work, as these are also the same ingredients which form the foundation of a once in a lifetime family member.
If you are interested in pursuing therapy or service work, you will need to check into the organizations in your community. In our area, therapy dogs are tested through our local TDI Branch (Therapy Dog International). The members are an encouraging and supportive group who provide practice testing so that every dog can have the best chance at passing the TDI test.
We have begun to assemble our Hall of Fame here, as we love to share with others what it is Goldens can accomplish as therapy and service dogs. Enjoy!
This wonderful boy ... Luke has become somewhat of a celebrity in Southern California, as he is often out in the community, blessing people with his calm and loving demeanor. His owner amazes me with the amount of time she volunteers, taking Luke from Children's Hospital in Los Angeles to UCSB and everywhere in between. He is a staple at Oaks Christian School in Westlake, where he often visits during finals week, and is well-loved at the library in Camarillo. But perhaps most famous is his precious relationship with the love of his life, Blondie. The two of them endure the most outlandish outfits, even dressing up as bride and groom at CHLA for Halloween (super cute article on them here). and spend a great deal of time bringing smiles to the people they serve. So, so proud of who this boy has become...
Dash is a guy who had a destiny to fulfill, but it just took a little bit for him to end up where he was supposed to be. I am very connected to a lot of people in the dog world, as I find myself contacting rescues for families who can't afford our dogs, talking to breeders of other breeds when someone decides to get a different breed, talking to trainers around the globe about the techniques with which they have the most success, etc.
When Dash's family had to give him up, it was heartbreaking. I knew they had done a stellar job training him and that everyone in the dog community who met him said that he was one of the smartest dogs they had ever met. It just seemed that maybe Dash had been given that mental horsepower to do something extraordinary. I knew of a Golden rescue organization in Colorado for whom I had the utmost respect, and whose wait lists were very long because of the extreme care they took in matching their rescue dogs with the right families.
I called Mary (at the rescue organization) and explained in depth the kind of training Dash had, the temperament he had as a pup when we raised him, and the hopes that his family had for his future. She immediately thought of a police officer who was looking for a K9partner.
The rest is history.
Dash is the only bomb detection K9 in the Colorado university system and after talking with his human (Officer Corey, who is as wonderful as Dash is!), I understand why. It is VERY difficult to qualify a bomb detection dog. Corey told me that Dash is very special and a rare discovery. Clearly, this is what Dash was made to do.
We are incredibly proud of this boy and are thrilled to watch him progress in his career. Go Dash!
This guy was one WONDERFUL puppy with a gregarious personality and all the ingredients necessary to go on to become a therapy dog. His humans are as fabulous as he is, with a great sense of humor (thus his name!). We were so delighted to hear that Squints passed his therapy dog exam - congratulations Squints!
Ellie came into this world with a ton of personality and a natural curiosity, and it has been such fun for us to watch her grow into a truly amazing dog! Her human mama is adventurous and outgoing, with a vivacious personality, and we think the theory that people choose dogs who are like them is certainly true of Ellie and her mama. They make a great team. We love to follow Ellie on Facebook, as we never know where she will be next. She's a wonderful little traveller who is at ease whether on an airplane, hiking in the hills of Ventura, playing at the beach, or reading with kids at the library. We are so proud of you Ellie!
From Reuben's owner:
Five minutes today with Reuben at an assisted living home was worth all the long hours of teaching him to give "comfort"...that is to gently sit next to someone and put his head in their lap, or lie across their feet, even lie down next to them in bed. We were in the facility's main reception area with about a dozen residents and Reuben calmly and patiently made the rounds, "sitting to talk" with first one and then another, putting his head in various laps and generally spreading joy.
One of the residents is a young woman, probably in her twenties, who is severely mentally and emotionally challenged, probably autistic, but whatever the case is very shy, even frightened and completely unable to make eye contact with anyone. Today was a very good day for her. She was sitting near the fireplace with her care giver and in her own way participating in the group assembled for tea. Her version of participating is to sit more or less facing toward to the group instead of facing the wall or fireplace, but silently with her head down and her eyes either closed or focused on her lap or her shoes...it has been many many months, perhaps years since this person has spoken a word.
As Reuben made his way around a big coffee table and smooched on everyone seated in big chairs and couches along the way, he came to this girl, sat by her and leaned against her legs. She reached out and ran her hand over his head, rubbed him gently for a moment and then she said, "Oh Reuben, Goodbye!" Her caregiver was astonished and ecstatic. We stayed by the girl for a few minutes and then as we left, the girl again quite clearly spoke out, "Goodbye Reuben." There wasn't a dry eye in the room.
This is a very special dog and I am privileged to know him.
"LUKE (IN TX)"
Luke was a gift to his human mama from her adult sons and I can only say that the entire experience of raising him and sending him home was seriously emotional! His mama is a lovely woman who has done an extraordinary job with him, recognizing the impact that a Golden can make in the lives of those in need. He sailed through his classes and is truly a delight to watch from afar. We love you Lukey. XOXO.
From Poet's Owner:
Kerry...I think your heart would just burst if you could see this. Tonight we are wrapping up our 5th performance of Annie with Poet cast front and center as "Sandy".
Not only has this phenomenal girl knocked it out of the park with some rather complicated choreography and "lines" on stage with direction from me off stage behind the curtain...over the last 3 months she has effectively adopted our entire cast of 60 kids (ages - high school seniors) She has also functioned very clearly as a sort of therapy dog behind the scenes...seeking out those who are feeling stressed or nervous and offering them her calm and quiet support.
She has stolen the show on stage and behind the scenes and I could not possibly love this dog any more.
From Rocco's Owner:
I’m a library dog… for kids to read to me… (Kim & Peter are only concerned to keep me awake… lest the child reads and I doze… and snore!)
My assignment this week is at school..
Next week, I am a comfort dog for HS students stressed by their exam period… and oh, all those squealing young girls want to do is to pat me and mess my fur and kiss me… Yuck!
Peter says he wants a job like mine… And the cool ID card.
Happy holidays Kerry to you, family, and of course my crew including dad & mom.