It was wonderful meeting so many of you on Sunday, introducing ourselves and sharing stories. However, there was no vehicle or format in which I could introduce you to my dog Willy. Although many of you have met him, please, let me introduce you.
Willy is eight years old. We have been together for seven and a half years. We found each other at the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Massachusetts the day after he arrived from Puerto Rico. His breed is a mystery mix.
Willy is a licensed Therapy Dog. I bring him to nursing homes and hospitals where he brings love and comfort to people in what are often stressful situations. He loves children. He loves church. And he loves to be cuddled.
Behavior around service dogs depends upon that dog’s service. While it is important to refrain from touching a seeing eye or other guide dog when they are working, Willy’s job is quite different. His job is help people feel comfortable. His job, basically, is to be patted. So while it is essential that you not touch or pat a working guide dog, it is fine to pat or cuddle Willy. But you don’t need to. If he goes up to you offering to be patted and you prefer not to do so, just refuse him. He understands “No.”
Willy is a hypoallergenic dog, meaning that he has hair, not fur, and therefore has nothing to create allergic reactions unless one is allergic to hair.
One request: Please refrain from feeding him. If he gets fed at church gatherings he will learn to bother people for food, and it will compromise his ability to function as a good church dog. Besides, in my experience, people sneak him food when I am not looking (I have seen it happen at pot-luck suppers) and Willy has been gaining weight at the rate of a pound a year! I need to lift him up to put him into his doggie car seat, and each year it gets more difficult as he
Thank you all for your warm welcome. If you have questions or concerns about Willy, or anything else regarding my ministry, please do speak with me. Together we learn.