These Therapy Dogs Will Make You Cry And Believe In Love Again
In Logan, Utah, there’s a very special little Bulldog who goes by the name of Charlie Sparkle.
“His name is Sparkle because you shouldn’t let anybody or anything take your sparkle,” his owner Maren Scott told the Standard Examiner. “He’s exuberant and happy and full of joy despite the fact that he’s completely messed up. I mean, his eye wanders, his pipshoot is in the wrong place, his legs don’t work, his wee falls out, he’s messed up. And he’s the embodiment of joy. He’s Charlie Sparkle.”
Meet Charlie Sparkle-he's a therapy dog with a huge personality. Plus, he wears pants! pic.twitter.com/7mHBTtEdPW— Anna Burleson (@AnnagatorB) January 16, 2017
Charlie Sparkle, aged 3, was born with spina bifida, a relatively rare condition in dogs that leaves the hindlegs completely paralyzed.
But although Charlie has to wear a doggy diaper (and pants!), and has some mobility issues that require the assistance of a little wheeled harness, Charlie is one happy chappy! And why not spread a little love with those who need it the most?
Scott decided to take Charlie to service dog training, where therapy dogs learn how to interact with strangers, among other tasks. Training Charlie was easy, according to his trainer Susan Gibson, who represents a local chapter of Love On A Leash.
Charlie Sparkle now puts in 10 hours a week at a local assisted living facility, bringing all the feels to anyone who happens to see him in action!
But Charlie Sparkle isn’t the first paw-stigious puppy to overcome adversity and give a little good back into the world. These other therapy dogs have also stepped up to the challenge — not only overcoming turmoil in their own lives, but trying to help others, too.
Spartacus The Akita
Owner Brad Cole always knew that his Akita had a special ability to bond with children. After registering Spartacus as a therapy dog, Spartacus became a K9 First Responder. The 125 pound Akita was also one of the first therapy dogs on site after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Spartacus formed a special bond with one little girl named Sammy, who had been a student at Sandy Hook. Spartacus stayed on campus for many months after the shooting, providing students with support and security.
Hector The Pitbull
Hector was one of 51 Pitbulls rescued from Michael Vick’s illegal dogfighting ring. Hector, despite being tortured and abused by Vick, was as sensitive and friendly as a pup could be. His loving new paw-rents recognized his sweet personality and realized he was a great candidate for a therapy dog.
After acing his therapy dog exams, Hector spent the rest of his life visiting hospitals, assisted living facilities, and schools to delight everyone who came into contact with him. Hector died in 2014, but his owners vowed to set up a charity in his honor and continue educating people about the true nature of Pitbulls. If you’re about to start ugly crying all over your keyboard (I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING), you can also donate to the San Francisco-based shelter that took care of Hector and the other dogs rescued from Vick’s dogfighting ring.
What Is A Therapy Dog?
Therapy dogs visit hospitals, schools, and other institutions along with their owners to provide comfort and emotional support for patients and victims. A service dog, on the other hand, is specifically trained for a purpose (like detecting diabetes) and assists their owner.
Service Dog Training
Service dogs are trained from puppyhood by certified service dog handlers. Service dogs are considered working dogs, not pets, and as a result are usually skilled in dealing with one disability. From the United States Department of Justice:
“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.”
Service dogs do not include pets or Emotional Service Animals.