"Sandora has become one of the best dogs I have ever owned. And I've owned quite a few good ones."
Her beginnings were humble.
Joanne Bedding was searching for her next Newfoundland dog and found a female, of all places, on Kijiji. At the age of just two years, Sandora already looked like an old lady. Joanne went to visit the featured dog where she lived – at a puppy mill. There were nine puppies on her, five weeks old. Over the owner’s objections, Joanne left Sandora there for another three weeks so the puppies could be properly weaned and socialized. Once in her new home, Sandora was a little nervous for a few days but quickly settled in – being showered with love and kind attention will do that for a dog.
Sandora soon demonstrated a number of talents. Take her “no nonsense here” skill. As a dog who gets along with both large and small breed dogs, she can pick up when other dogs are about to fight. That’s when she’ll run right at them, barrel through, then stand quietly to signal “enough already”.
Then there’s her skills with people. Possessed of great magnetism, Joanne can't take Sandora anywhere without somebody wanting to meet and pet her. Maybe it’s her facial expressions. During conversations Joanne says Sandora “gets a look on her face that makes you think she knows everything being said.” When Sandora sits on the couch, head held high, she seems human, as if she's listening and understands everything being discussed.
With remarkable skills like these, Sandora was soon certified with Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) as a therapy dog and later became certified to work with children.
When Joanne and Sandora first started therapy work they visited a seniors’ home and found there were always the same four or five residents waiting for their visit. One day they were in the hallway sitting area when a resident approached carrying a pile of books, clothing and her purse. She stopped when she reached Joanne and Sandora, asking Joanne to open the door so she could leave. Joanne reminded the resident she’d have to see the nurse. The resident was not happy. In fact, she was so unhappy she threw everything she’d been carrying at Joanne and Sandora. The five ladies, each over 80 and experiencing dementia, scrambled to move out of the way. Clearly, the situation called for calm. This was Sandora’s moment. She jumped in front of Joanne and proceeded to give the agitated woman a talking-to. It was, after all, “enough already”.
 Joanne’s other Newfoundland dog, Bootsie, also a certified pet therapist, was featured on this blog May 27, 2016.