Sam — Therapy

Location: La Quinta, California

Sam began as a “career changer” when he was given up for adoption by Guide Dogs of the Desert because of his small size. After being adopted and returned by previous owners, I agreed to raise and train him as a therapy dog. As an experienced therapy dog handler at the UCLA Health Center, I quickly learned the power of the human-animal bond. Today, Sam’s temperament and charismatic personality guarantee a smile on anyone he meets. For example, essential workers at healthcare facilities needing a lift in spirits, mothers on airplanes wanting to soothe their children, lonely, older shoppers at retailers having a chance to feel connected, and audiences at concerts and church services receiving a surprise dose of joy and happiness. I created a photo album of these events. With SAM, all I do is give the command, “say hello,” and he immediately nuzzles up to the person I point to and senses the Oxytocin, the love hormone, emanating from the individual. Sam’s love for large groups of children and adults makes him an exceptional therapy dog when they all want to pet Sam simultaneously. Recently, Sam has joined me in teaching a virtual, live How to Certify Your Pet as a Therapy Dog class sponsored by community colleges throughout the nation. This class’s sole mission is to educate the public about becoming a volunteer therapy dog handler so more people will experience joy and healing.

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