Sandy — Service

Location: Milford, Connecticut

I am a Chaplain and handler of Sandy a Therapeutic Service Dog. Sandy and I work at a special needs child development center. Twice a week Sandy interacts with eighty students. The students have severe developmental and medical needs.

Sandy performs a variety of tasks at the school. She activates electronic toys and switches for students with her nose or mouth. Sandy pulls and pushes students in their walkers. Sandy gives the staff the student’s leg braces and sneakers so they can put them on students. Sandy also brings students belongings to their backpacks and puts them in.

Three days a week Sandy is at an adult special needs day program with over a hundred adults. Sandy pulls off coats. She puts her front paws on a participants lap grabs the collar of the jacket to pull it over the participant’s head. She knows the names of objects and can put them in the exact place they are stored. She opens doors by activating the handicap button with her paws or her nose. She nudges doors open and closed with her nose for participants in wheelchairs. Sandy throws trash away for the participants. She puts her paws on the side of the trash can by pushing the swing lid open and flipping the trash into it.

Sandy learns from her environments. She is continually figuring out new tasks and ways to do those tasks.

This picture speaks to the amount of physical and emotional energy Sandy puts into the work she does. It was the end of the day. She slept through a noisy school dismissal.