Two years ago, CeCe, a 10-year old Shih Tzu, found herself at a shelter when her owner was no longer able to care for her. As a senior dog dribbling blood and urine from bladder stones who was severely overweight, she was not adoptable. Fortunately for CeCe, the shelter called Old Dog Haven, an organization with a mission to rescue unadoptable senior dogs in western Washington state and place them in permanent foster homes, rescued her. She was removed from the shelter, taken for medical treatment and came to live with me as a permanent foster. It took several months to restore her health.

As CeCe recovered from surgery, lost weight and gained strength, I discovered a calm, sweet-tempered dog that is quite fond of children. It occurred to me that if she could be a therapy dog in a reading program, it would be a great enrichment activity for her. I got permission from Old Dog Haven to pursue becoming a therapy team, signed up with a good trainer and started practicing.  It took several months of intensive work since CeCe, although blessed with a sweet disposition and fondness for people, appeared to have had no obedience training at all. Our hard work paid off, and we passed our evaluation in November of 2016 and volunteered to read at two of the local primary schools.  CeCe loves this, and so do I. It is so gratifying to see these kids light up when they see CeCe coming and to know that we can bring so much happiness into the school for them. We’ve only been doing this since January, but it’s been so amazing!

CeCe and I have also been volunteering with the local community partner Columbia River Pet Partners as a neutral dog team for evaluations and some of the local events the group has participated in. The most recent, a picnic for foster kids, was the perfect event for a foster dog that loves kids.

To make this story even better, I had retired a few months before CeCe came to live with me. I have gotten so much joy from our volunteer work as a therapy team, I am training with my personal dog for our evaluation in September. My girl Poppy, a 10-year old  Lhasa Apso mix, is also a former shelter dog that I adopted from the Humane Society in 2013.

Thanks to CeCe, that little unadoptable senior dog, I have found this amazing way to take my commitment to rescuing shelter dogs to a new level by partnering with my dogs to support my community and that is a really special thing.

Story provided by Laura Demory