Pet partners

Diane Korn and her dog Latke

Diane Korn and her dog Latke

Susan Richards

The idea that pet animals could raise human spirits has been around since the ancient Greeks. But the idea was never formalized; it just seemed to lots of casual observers that people in need perked up when a social dog or cat arrived on the scene. However, this all changed in 1977 when the Delta Society was formed. Today the group calls itself Pet Partners and includes 11,000 therapy animal teams both in the U.S. and worldwide. “Pet Partners” therapy animal program trains volunteers and evaluates them with their pets so they can visit patients/clients in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice and physical therapy centers, schools, libraries and many other facilities.” (Reprinted from the Pet Partners website.)

SaddleBrooke’s own, Latke, works under the auspices of this group along with his pet parent Diane Korn. Diane and Latke also belong to the SaddleBrooke Dog Park, Dexter’s Place. In 2012 Latke was adopted on Chanukah from AZ Poodle Rescue. Subsequently it was suggested by a retired veterinarian friend that Diane think about becoming a therapy team with Latke. The new work was a big stretch for Latke as originally he was found homeless wandering the desert, worse for wear at age ten. Now he has a busy life working about 40 hours a month at various Tucson facilities helping to lift human spirits of those ages one through one hundred. He wears a special vest and greets the idea of therapy work with considerable excitement.

But first Latke had to do some training because at the ripe old age of ten, he did not obey on command. Who says that old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Now Latke is, well, full of tricks. He can high five with the best of them. Diane and Latke attended two rounds of basic obedience at PetSmart and then did some additional work with a trainer. They passed the Pet Partner’s rigorous 22 point evaluation on the first try. The test is pretty challenging for dog and human alike!

This story has a wonderful happy ending for Latke, Diane, and all the people who benefit from their visits. We are proud that this delightful team also calls Dexter’s Place home.

SaddleBrooke dogs keep on giving in all sorts of ways. I recently found myself traveling on an airport shuttle. It was late in the evening and Albuquerque was dark and cool. My dog, an Italian Greyhound, had made the trip with me riding in cargo from O’Hare Airport located outside Chicago. It was 10:30 p.m. and the 30 or so folks on the crowded rental car shuttle were weary. I was standing, holding on to a pole, while my dog naturally found a willing lap. Why stand on ceremony? A fellow traveler, sitting across from me remarked, “You should ride the shuttle a few hours a day so your dog can provide therapy to stressed travelers.” So Dexter’s Place dogs are always at the ready to help out in all sorts of situations!