A Therapy Dog: Clancy’s Story By Debbie Frank Hi! My name is Clancy. I am a Labrador Retriever. Labs come in three colors: yellow, chocolate, and black. I am a yellow Lab. This is my mom. Her name is Mrs. Frank. She has been an Aliquippa teacher for 25 years! She likes to get her picture taken with fictional characters. Seriously, she does. No really, she does! Mrs. Frank brought me home when I was 8 weeks old. She named me Clancy after her favorite author, Tom Clancy. She wanted to give me a strong name. My name means ‘red warrior’ in Welsh. As a puppy, I had a laid back attitude. That means I liked to cuddle and spend time with my mom. I was a very shy puppy. I was afraid of loud noises and new people. They would make me hide. Mrs. Frank helped me get over my shyness. She loved me, gave me soft cuddly toys, and took me everywhere she went. I learned to be brave and not scared. My stuffed toys are my favorite. Santa brought a Christmoose for my 1st Christmas. He was so soft and fuzzy. I loved him so much! Mom helped me meet new friends. Here is Max. He is a beagle. He likes to hunt rabbits and howl at the moon. “Ooooooo” Max is not shy! My friends, Elsie and Cricket, are black Labs. They like to dress up in fancy outfits. They also like to pull stuffed animals to shreds. Can you guess what they did to my Christmoose? Elsie and Cricket are not shy. Mom took me to parades so I was not afraid of loud noises and lots of people. I meet new friends, she cheers as the Quip band passes by. I love to fetch or retrieve. After all, I am a Labrador Retriever. It doesn’t matter what Mom throws, I love to bring it back! But I really love fetching tennis balls. Labs are friendly and smart dogs. Labs like to swim! I can swim to retrieve a ball or stick. I love to swim so much, my mom set up a pool just for me! I live in the country on a farm where I can run, run, run! After my 1st birthday, Mrs. Frank and I went to Therapy Dog School. A therapy dog helps people feel better in places like hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Therapy dogs must listen to commands and not be afraid of loud noises or crowds. We practiced listening during class. We had to “sit”, “stay”, “leave it”, and “stand up” on command. One time, another dog and I were playing instead of listening. Mrs. Frank wasn’t very happy about that. Afterwards, I did my best to listen and pay attention to the teacher. Mrs. Frank said, “Clancy, you’re a good boy!” That made me wag my tail. We learned to be comfortable around hospital equipment like crutches, canes, and high beds. I learned how to ride in an elevator without being afraid. Sometimes the teacher made loud noises or dropped things on the floor to scare us; but I was brave and did not hide. Part of the class taught me to stay with another grownup while Mrs. Frank left the room. I waited quietly until she returned for me. I learned how to get close to wheelchairs so the people could pet me. Most of all, I learned to trust Mrs. Frank and enjoy being around many people. On the last day of school, I had to take a test to become a Therapy Dog. I was really nervous. But I passed! I get to wear a special tag on my collar to let everyone know I am a Therapy Dog. A nursing home is where people who are elderly or ill can live safely. Sometimes being away from home makes them sad. A therapy dog works to make them feel better. Therapy dogs help people open up and tell stories about the dogs in their lives. They seem to relax while petting me. It puts smiles on their faces. Every Saturday, Mrs. Frank and I visit a nursing home to see Mr. Jones. I give him kisses and lean against his legs. He pets my ears and rubs my back. He says, “Clancy, you make my day! Yes, you do!” Therapy dogs go into schools to help children read. Sometimes I help Mrs. Frank read to the children. Other times, the children read to me. I love listening to stories. I am a really good listener! When I listen, it helps young children enjoy reading. Sometimes children are scared of dogs. I help them learn that therapy dogs are gentle. Sometimes the children dress for reading. Sometimes the grownups dress up. Seriously, they do! And sometimes, so do I! Aren’t we silly? In the summer, I go to the B.F. Jones Library to read with children. I listen and enjoy being petted during the story. Everyone says “Good boy Clancy! You are the BEST!” I wag my tail to show I am happy to help. Sometimes the story is so relaxing, I close my eyes to listen. A therapy dog gets to visit places other dogs can not go. I went to Mrs. Frank’s favorite hangout – The Mall in Robinson! Can you see me at the Animal Shelter table? That day, I helped people learn what Therapy Dogs can do. Lots of people came by to pet me and learn how Therapy Dogs help others. I am not the bravest dog, but I try to do my best at all times. I am not the fastest dog, but I try hard all the time. My name is Clancy. I am a good friend to all. I am patient and kind. I am silly! I am a good listener. I am a Steeler fan. Let me repeat that. I am a Steeler fan. With Mrs. Frank at my side, I am an awesome Therapy Dog!