Five Chippewa Valley Therapy Pups You’ll Want to Cuddle
meet some of the cute faces meant to put a smile on yours
Meet CeeCee the Pomeranian
See CeeCee at the UW-Eau Claire McIntyre Library, where she makes all of the students’ hearts melt. CeeCee is a part of UW-Eau Claire’s therapy dog program that has been around for almost 12 years now, with 30-35 different dogs visiting over the years. Students, staff, and faculty endlessly enjoy the visits with CeeCee and the other dogs, especially during finals week when stress runs high. The dogs sit in the library for about an hour at a time and greet any students or faculty they may see.
“I always joke that there are three kind of people who see the therapy dogs,” joked Jenna Vande Zande, McIntyre’s User Services and Communications Coordinator.
“There’s the walkers – the ones who will just walk by and smile; there’s the quick petters – the ones who just run up and give the dogs a quick pat on their way to classes; and there’s the squatters – those who will sit there for the whole visit and chat with the handlers and play with the dogs. But no matter what, everyone’s happy to see them.”
Meet Murphy the Labradoodle
Reporting for cutie duty, Murphy is the Eau Claire Police Department’s resident therapy dog. Murphy was gifted to the ECPD as a pup back in June (check out the Volume One article from when he joined the force at VolumeOne.org) by Blueberry Cottage Labradoodles because they knew he would have the best temperament to help and calm both police officers and the general public.
Since we last met with Murphy, he has started working toward his career as a therapy dog. “He has been to Puppy Einstein class at emBark and did a two-week training that included boarding at Barks N Rec,” said ECPD Public Informations Officer Josh Miller.
“He’s got a ways to go until he’s a full-blown therapy dog but we are impressed by his progress! He’s pretty much the star of any tour we bring through.”
Meet Watson the Golden Retriever
Elementary, my dear Watson. Watson is a therapy dog legacy since his mom had also been a certified therapy dog. His handler, Cindi, and her family then agreed that Watson had the perfect temperament to follow in his mom’s footsteps. Cindi’s daughter was also in the hospital years earlier, and a therapy dog had helped both her and Cindi feel better.
Back in 2015, Watson and Cindi trained in the Pet Partners pet therapy program that is sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System.
Since then, Watson had been such a shining light for all of the patients he has visited at Mayo Clinic, particularly those in hospice. Though the Mayo Paws Force program has been paused since the COVID-19 pandemic, his years of service are still appreciated.
“One patient in particular we had visited three times, and she hadn’t said a word to us. However, she always made eye contact,” Cindi said. “On our fourth visit, as we were leaving, I said to her that we would stop again soon to see her. She spoke to us for the first time saying, ‘I hope you do.’ I knew at that moment that Watson and I were making a difference and were giving back what my daughter and I were given in the hospital so many years before.”
Meet Bernie the Golden Doodle
Feel the Bern! Bernie is also from the Mayo Clinic Paws Force team and had been volunteering with his handler, Eugene, since 2016. Bernie has a knack for brightening the day of anyone he comes into contact with, and Eugene said he could tell by the visits that Bernie is hugely impactful to the healing and well-being of others. The Mayo Clinic Paws Force program is still on pause, but Bernie already helped many people during his time at Mayo. (Learn more about the program below)
“Dogs are nonjudgmental, calming, and help get your mind off a bad day,” Gagnon said. “Bernie is a very important part of my life, and we hardly are ever separated. To be able to work with Bernie to help those in need is a truly amazing experience.”
Meet Piper the Chocolate Lab
Polly and her pretty Piper have a passion for people. Unfortunately, a car accident caused one of Piper’s legs to be amputated, but that didn’t stop her from spreading joy over at Eau Claire’s Mayo Clinic before the Paws Force program paused.
“One of Piper’s favorite stops is the staff in Trauma Services because she knows they keep treats for her,” Polly said. “She has a lot of other staff member friends throughout the hospital who spoil her as well. Sometimes it is the staff who need to see Piper the most because we can all have rough days working in this field.”
Paws Force is Coming Back! Do You Think Your Pup Could Help Others?
Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin partners with Pet Partners’ Therapy Animal Program. They train volunteers, and screen volunteers and their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities. The program ensures that both ends of the leash — people, as well as animals — are well-prepared to participate in animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted therapy programs.
Once trained, dogs and their handlers can become part of the Paws Force volunteers.
Your dog may be a good fit for Paws Force if you answer yes to these questions:
1. Is your dog friendly and well-behaved?
2. Does your dog enjoy meeting new people of all ages?
3. Is your dog reliable and friendly around other dogs?
4. Has your dog completed several levels of obedience classes in the past two years? Note: these classes must be positive reinforcement-only training programs.
Those interested in learning more can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (715) 838-3262.