Shadow — Therapy
Shadow has earned his Hero honors many times over, in two separate careers: he spent the first half of his life as a Military Working Dog (MWD), working as a bomb detection dog at the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
His real contribution, however, came after he retired and came to live with us. He and I got certified as an Animal Therapy Team by Pet Partner at the ASPCA in Manhattan, then went to work visiting hospitals, nursing homes, veterans’ organizations, schools, and homeless shelters in New York and New Jersey. He was an instant hit, especially with the veterans (who would tell this fellow veteran all about their troubles because “he would understand,”) and kids, who loved his backstory, and his cheerful calmness (after all, what good would an excitable bomb sniffer be?), and not least because he was big and sturdy and willing to put up with clumsy hugs and awkward snuggles. Best of all were the homeless kids, who gravitated to this fellow sojourner, loved his eagerness to please, and appreciated his rock-solid imperturbability despite a difficult past life. He is a “Therapy-dog emeritus”) now, at nearly fourteen years old, old for a Labrador, but he still “freelances,” with the elderly, with kids, with fellow veterans, at every possible occasion — parades, family events, dog beach visits, or just neighborhood walks. Every day with him is a treasure, and he now has friends around the world who write and ask how he’s doing.