We are lucky that MAST got to interview one of our most handsome volunteer therapy dogs! He’s the December 2017 MASTDOG of the month. Isn’t he majestic? He is one of the most calm, friendly, and gentle giants we’ve ever met. Let’s get to know him!
What’s your name?
Ah, it’s right here on my tag. DANDY! That’s me! My human friend (and dad) Bill tells me that I’m named after General George Armstrong Custer’s favorite horse.
General Custer must have been a great human as my mom and dad’s friend Ralph, who is a retired Army Cavalry soldier, was going to name me Dandy if I stayed to live with him and my K9 mom and dad. But when I met my new humans, they thought Dandy was a great name too. So here I am!
What breed are you?
Well now, I am a rare breed, a Shiloh Shepherd! I am a reincarnation of the original Schafer Hund, Shepherd Dog, from Germany. I am strong and large. I have a great nose and a very docile demeanor.
Since I am a shepherd, I must protect and defend. My human friend Bill says a stare is usually all I have to do; my stare works as a great deterrent.
What is your favorite spot to be pet?
I like getting my ears scratched more than giving stares. I’m always up for an ear scratch or a belly rub, those are the best.
How old are you?
In human years, I’m 14. In dog years, I’m 2.
How long have you been a therapy dog?
I’ve been a Therapy Dog since early March 2017. My BFF Bill says I’m really good at it!
What made you want to become a therapy dog?
One of my favorite boys is a special friend because he has autism. Being with him made think about helping others like him. All my kids (Bill’s grandkids) are my best buddies.
How long did it take you to become certified?
We started training when I came home to Illinois. I was 12 weeks old. I was 1 1/2 years old when I passed the TDI test.
I first started in puppy class. I am an AKC Star Puppy! No kidding! Then I went through AKC Basic Obedience Training twice. I liked that that class and Miss Rose. Then I went to AKC Advanced Obedience and I still like going to that class on Monday nights. My BFF Bill took me to a big test. I wasn’t real sure about that test but I passed it as I didn’t want disappoint Bill. I received lots of pats and scratches for passing my Canine Good Citizen test. Then one day Bill took me to a new place. We practiced the same things we did at the CGC test plus a couple more things. Then Bill said we had passed the Therapy Dog International test! There was one more test but that was fun and I had a good time. That test was the AKC Community Canine Good Citizen and we passed that too.
What is your favorite part about being a therapy dog?
I like being a Therapy dog. I have a lot of friends now. The best part is the smiles—the pats—-oh the hugs! Yes, the hugs are the best! And my dog friends, yes, my dog friends. What a great bunch of friends!
What is the biggest surprise you’ve had while being a therapy dog?
I sure never thought so many people would like me. My goodness! So many! I feel like I am a rock star or something! That popularity sure was a surprise.
What is your favorite toy and favorite treat?
People try to give me treats and toys. When I’m working, I don’t eat anything. I’m working. I don’t play with toys as I am too busy watching, protecting and guarding.
Do you have any favorite music?
I get pretty tired after a big day visiting my friends. Bill always puts a big soft bed in the truck just for me. I like to curl up on that bed and then Bill turns on some smooth jazz. The truck is warm, the bed is soft and the music just puts me to sleep. It’s wonderful! A lot of time when I’m snoozing in the truck on the way home I dream about how wonderful it is to be a therapy dog.
What does a therapy dog do, in your own words?
We bring smiles and hugs a time to just enjoy our time together. I think that is the best thing I do. I help make people a little happier. That’s why I sleep so good. I made a difference. We made a difference.
What type of dog makes a good candidate for therapy dog work?
All my therapy dog friends are different breeds, but they have some pretty common traits. They are kind, they like people and other dogs, they behave and they don’t act up. They love being with their humans and are happy to be with all their dog friends. They never argue but just focus on the human patients who need some cheering up. We always need more dog friends.
What kind of training should a therapy dog yet?
Mr. J, another human friend, helps dogs to learn how to be great therapy dogs. He knows Miss Mary Ann at TOPS in Grayslake. She teaches a 10-week class to help us to be awesome therapy dogs! I know 10 weeks seems like a long time, but it really isn’t.
How much time do you spend being a therapy dog each month?
Bill and I spend about 30 to 40 hours per month doing visits. It’s fun! We get home super tired but happy as we can be!
What is one suggestion you would to make to someone considering becoming a therapy dog team?
I’d say anyone who likes dogs and making other people feel good should come and be with us! C’mon man! This is more fun that chasing rabbits and squirrels combined! No kidding.
What can a therapy dog teach us about being good citizens?
Well, it teaches us everything! I know that I’m special. I know that my BFF Bill is indeed my best friend and partner. I learned that I could make sad people smile. I can help those who have given so much to protect me and now they need some cheering up, some kindness. I think we make the world better, one patient at a time. Does that make me a good citizen? Maybe, but I feel super good doing it! I get pretty tired but it’s really a good kind of tired.
What do you do in your time off?
When we get home I like to run, chase squirrels and rabbits, play with Bill’s 11 grand kids, chase Pepper and Buddy (my K9 brothers) and take little naps. I like it best when Bill and I just snuggle. Then I’m at peace. I am ready though whenever Bill picks up my backpack and leash. Then I know we’re going to work and I feel wiggly all over.