by Lee Juslin
Eileen has lived a life dedicated to dogs. From obedience to rally to therapy dogs, she’s been there and done that.
Currently Eileen’s Shreq, a handsome Doberman Pinscher, has proven himself to be outstanding in all three fields, but his award winning work as a therapy dog is particularly noteworthy. From young children in reading programs to nursing homes, Shreq is a big favorite, and often in costumes like his famous Elvis outfit.
Recently, with the idea of doubling down on Shreq’s therapy work, Eileen and her husband acquired Devilin (full name Raven’s Own Cruella DeVil) a gorgeous female Doberman. “She was delivered right to our door,” Eileen said. “I was so excited on the day of her arrival. But, she jumped out of the van and headed right for my husband. She sat in front of him as if to say: ‘You’re mine’.”
At nine months, Devilin needed training to become a certified therapy dog in addition to the obedience titles that Eileen and husband, Al, wanted her to have. In short order, she earned her CGC and was accepted into both Love on a Leash and Therapy Dogs, Inc. Soon, she and Eileen were visiting nursing homes and reading programs. Like most therapy dogs, Devilin soon developed a preference and hers is for any program involving children. “She’s does okay at the nursing homes. Always greeting each resident in a dignified way,” said Eileen, “but she really loves the children we encounter in the library reading programs. And, the kids love her, too, often getting down on the floor and snuggling with her as they read aloud.”
Recently, Eileen and Devilin have embarked on a new therapy pet adventure, becoming part of the new therapy dog program at Cork’s Place. Cork’s Place is a peer support facility for children who have lost a parent or other significant person. It’s a group setting run by volunteers and paid staff that allows kids to vent and share their feelings, something they might not be able to do at home. Like the library reading programs, the dogs provide a friendly, nonjudgmental presence allowing the youngsters to talk freely and at their own pace. Devilin, of course, loves the Cork Place children, and has proven to be a great listener. Early reports from the staff on the new therapy dog program have been very positive.
When not out on official therapy visits, Devilin has her therapy job at home. She shadows, Al, and knows his schedule. Al, for his part, has taken over the obedience trials with Devilin. In fact, the day we spoke with Eileen, Devilin and Al were off on a 900 mile journey to participate in a four day obedience trial and hopefully come home with a title.
Eileen says that Devilin has given Al a purpose and a reason for getting up in the morning. “At seventy-five, he’s constantly learning new things from her, and she gives him at least one good laugh every day.”
Read more animal related articles by Lee here in KRL.