417 Magazine: How did you meet Choppy?
Walter Roberts: My wife and I both have been doing therapy dog work for almost 15 years. We adopted a rescue dog probably 12 years or more ago. We’ve always rescued dogs, [but] Choppy, we decided, we would raise from a pup. So we got her from a small breeder in Minnesota, and she’s been a therapy dog now for going on three and a half, almost four years.
417: How do you determine if a dog will make a good therapy dog?
W.R.: Temperament. I always tell people that any dog has the potential to be a therapy dog if they have the temperament. It’s also to do with the way the dog is raised. Once you get through your basic obedience training and they know their commands, their temperament will get them the other 80% of the way.
417: What kind of benefits does Choppy offer patients?
W.R.: A lot of times it’s just the ability to be able to have that interaction with the dog. When a child is in the exam chair, there are restrictions in mobility because they’re being examined. But I know that just the ability to touch the dog is a good way to distract them.
417: Is there a situation in which Choppy helped that stands out to you?
Carrie Arquitt: We had one little girl coming in to have some fillings done. First time she was ever going to have fillings, so she was a real nervous, tentative patient. It probably would have been a very tearful appointment—she probably could’ve done it but would have been tearful. Instead, she breezed through the appointment, and I think the difference was having the dog to look forward to and to have that comfort there.