"Most people would not think of a Doberman as a therapy animal but she was loved by the residents at the facilities we visited."
ABBA, at 7 months
Written by Glen Numbers
As a 75 year old retired veteran of the Canadian military, I like to describe myself as the new guy on the block. We had owned, bred, showed and obedience-trained dogs for a number of years but it was not the greatest situation with the constant moves of military employment. We got out of the dogs when I was posted to the Middle East. Only recently we got back into dogs with the good graces of our daughter, a Dob breeder.
I got a 7 year old Doberman bitch, Abba, from my daughter, in June 2015. After a couple of weeks of walking Abba downtown, I realized that she was very quiet and friendly and would likely be a good dog for therapy work. I therefore went through the process of getting her certified through Therapeutic Paws Of Canada (TPOC). Abba had a heart condition and I was aware of this, however I thought whatever joy she could bring to those she visited, it would be worthwhile. We started doing visits to two retirement homes in April 2016.
The only way I can describe the visits to the homes was rewarding and gratifying, for myself, the dog and the residents at the homes. I was a little apprehensive that visiting in the homes might be somewhat depressing but it was just the opposite. The joy Abba brought to the residents more than compensated for that fear. In one case there was a younger woman we visited who had MS and couldn't move any of her limbs. She had had a Doberman while she was younger. Although she couldn't pet Abba, her eyes just glowed when she saw her and the next thing I heard from her was "I love you Abba". So rewarding it made it all great.
On Halloween 2016, I had Abba the Dog Park playing fetch with a ball and she passed away. A shock, yes, a surprise, no. I often think how fortunate that was and not in one of the homes during a visit or having to go to the vet to have her put down. She was doing something that she enjoyed in a place where she was at home. Most people would not think of a Doberman as a therapy animal but she was loved by the residents at the facilities we visited. It was an exception where someone did not want to visit with her. Ch Hausenbrook's Dancing Queen, "ABBA" may be gone but she is missed and remembered fondly by those who met her.
[Glen now has a 7 year old Springer Spaniel “who is a dream”. He can't wait to have her certified as a therapy dog so he can get back to visiting. – ed.]