Brenna & The Boy

I'm a shy person, so sharing my dog with others is a way to bridge this barrier while bringing a sense of joy and connection to everyone involved. Thanks to sharing my dog with others I have experienced some truly golden moments, such as this:

My first facility assignment was a children's in-patient psychiatric unit. Children in this facility were admitted for several weeks and their time with the dogs was a key part of their therapy. Four dogs visited the unit together on Tuesdays, each assuming a different area (on the unit) in which to visit with 3-4 kids over the course of the hour. Before visiting we were given a brief on the children we would be seeing and each child was matched with a dog according to his or her own needs. For example, my placid Rottweiler typically visited with either hyperactive kids because of her calming disposition, or withdrawn kids as she could gently interact with them.

One boy stands out a memorable. He adored “Brenna” so much and always displayed such exceptional behavior that it was difficult (for me) to believe that he had intense anger/destructive issues. The boy worked hard during each week to reach his goals so that he would earn the reward of extra visit time with Brenna. As the weeks (and his treatment progressed) he was spending nearly the full hour with Brenna. Staff and doctors were greatly impressed with his progress and his inspiration: the dog.

One Thursday, I got a call from the unit (which was unheard of). The boy was being discharged that day, and even though this was a very happy day for him, he was saddened that he would not see Brenna again, get a chance to say goodbye nor to give her the gift he had gotten with his own money. The phone call was to ask if I would possibly mind making the trip so they boy could see Brenna one last time. What human could say “no”?

We met in an administrator's office, just off the unit where we wouldn't disturb the other patients. Amid tears and hugs, the boy had his farewell visit with a very receptive Brenna. I was then proudly informed by the doctor just how important my dog had been to his successful treatment. The boy had certainly earned this special visit and I was deeply thanked for making it possible.

The pleasure was all mine.

Brenna with her cat, Beau.

(Brenna: 2/15/90 12/10/2001)

(Beau: 1992 - 2004)



Jazz was born sometime in mid 2006, a Shetland Sheepdog/Dachshund mix, or what we affectionately call “a Shelthund Dacheltie”. She has the slight roman nose and distinctive wrist & ankle joints of the Dachshund along with an elongated top line (back). Her ears, cat-like feet and white markings are hallmarks of the Sheltie and she shares the temperament of both breeds.

Jazz found her forever home on July 25th, 2007 at Gianna Violins, the small acoustic stringed instrument shop owned and operated by her new family. Jazz was a stray, suspected to have been an dumped by previous owners. Condition and health suggested she had been somewhat cared for though no one was looking for her and no one claimed her. A lovely little dog that had simply been thrown away like everyday garbage.

Jazz joins fellow fur-family members: Mac, an elderly Border Collie of 14 years and retired therapy dog. Elvis, an over-sized Treeing Walker Coonhound and current though non-active therapy dog (since their owners' cycling accident and hand injuries). Jazz's favorite “brother” is Jinx, the family cat, a domestic short hair. Being the only “girl” fur-child, she is without a doubt the “pampered princess”.

Jazz began her journey with animal assisted therapy in the autumn of 2007, during her persons' recovery from a cycling accident. No longer able to handle Elvis, attention turned to Jazz for her assistance in this rewarding field. Jazz was still in the learning phase with her family, but she passed all the assessments with relative ease. During the course of that winter (2007-2008) Jazz took over Elvis' assignment at a transitional care facility and gradually added the nearby elementary school to her weekly visits.

This blog is dedicated to Jazz and the journey of animal assisted therapy. Herein will be offered up a creative dish of information on caring for, training and socializing a successful therapy dog.


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