September’s Therapy Animal of the Month is……
Belle is an 11 year old American Kennel Club registered golden retriever, and has been a therapy dog for a whopping 8 years, with over 500 visits completed! Belle has even been inducted into the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hall of Fame- an honor which only about 100 animals have achieved over the past 21 years! We can definitely see why Belle is special.
Fun Facts about Belle:
- She loves to accompany her owner, Geoff, to his classes (he is a NJ Certified Animal Control Officer, a NJ Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator, and a Middlesex County Animal Response Team Bureau Chief) and she also attends many of his meetings where she provides a significant morale boost to the people involved!
- Belle helped to raise and socialize an abandoned 4 week old terrier, Anna, (now 2 years old) who has become an integral part of her family!
- Belle’s favourite activities are hiking, swimming, hanging out with kids, and her best friend, Anna (pictured below)
- Belle’s favourite treats are cooked turkey hot dogs.
Geoff, her owner (and best friend!) gave us the scoop on Belle’s history, and how she became a therapy dog in the first place:
“Belle was 5 months old (and a breeder “left-over” with a “questionable future”) when we adopted each other after my previous two dogs (aged 14 & 13) had passed within 5 1/2 months of each other. She became my therapy dog and did so well assisting me through my grieving process that we trained and became certified as a therapy dog team. This led to her career as a therapist for others. Her best trait is her ability to engage with and give her undivided attention to each person she meets and interacts with.”
Here are some of Belle’s incredible accomplishments:
- Belle is a featured instructor in Career Development Institute (CDI) courses that have educated and certified over 1,600 NJ Certified Animal Control Officers, NJ Certified Animal Cruelty Investigators, Humane Law Enforcement Officers, Shelter workers, and Pet Owners. She demonstrates the animal human bond, proper dog handling and Pet First Aid (specifically she allows students to find her pulse and heart rate). Belle is always “front & center” in each class graduation picture.
- Therapy visits have included nursing homes, library reading programs, senior centers, school education programs, and community events.
- Over the past 8 years, Belle’s “Read to a Dog” library program has assisted 100’s of children in learning to read. Belle rewards each reader by having them tie a colored ribbon on her special vest designed for that purpose (as might be expected, her vest is heavily laden with brightly colored ribbons).
- Belle personally donated 17 potentially lifesaving Pet Oxygen Masks to the Edison, NJ Fire Department (pictured below) as well as the Middlesex County Animal Response Team and specially monogrammed blankets to the Edison Animal Shelter.
- As a testament to Belle’s exemplary personality and work, she has been featured in numerous articles and some television programs.
To see more of Belle in action, check out this video: