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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be part of a therapy dog team?
Beth and her very handsome Black Lab Harrison shared their experience with us. Beth and Harrison attended Puppy Pre-School and Family Companion with Paula Kelman, and Graduate Family Companion with Kim Sauer. They continued on with their training and attended Paula Macrides' Therapy Dog Prep Class. Beth & Harrison have now regularly been visiting a local nursing home for just a few months. The joy they will bring to others in the years to come will no doubt be immeasurable and priceless. Here is their story....
Harrison and I have been routinely going to a nursing home right near our house. It has been just great and he is a Rock Star at it! Harrison gets pretty excited when I pull out his harness and his red scarf. I must say I am getting so much out of it too. What a feel good feeling from the time we walk through the doors until we leave. We have so many new friends and have seemed to have such a positive impact on so many of the residents and staff.

Some of the highlights for me have been watching a woman get so excited that she began rocking back and forth in her wheel chair until Harrison got to her, then smiling such a big smile, only to find out from the staff that that particular resident had NEVER smiled since she had been there. Now that's all she does when she sights in on Harrison.

Another woman (memory care resident) began talking in full sentences to Harrison; everyone around us founnd out that she had NEVER spoken since she had been there, only making grunting noises. Although some days are better then others for her, I usually get a very positive response.

Then there is the woman who chases us around in her wheel chair. Harrison got right on her bed with her last week, and I only wish I had my camera.

These are just some of the many stories and experiences we have had so far. I must say I am so grateful for my dog and to be able to work together as a team to make so many happy. Everyone there has been so appreciative, but little do they know what happiness they are giving back to us. Thanks to you too Paula for introducing us to such a wonderful experience as the work of a Therapy Dog.

For the last several years, I have worked with both Marcia and Paula in training my two dogs. Their focus, their expertise, and most importantly, their patience, in working with my "animated" approach to life and my furry children have been most helpful in training both my dogs AND me. I could not imagine working with anyone else! Kolby, my Wheaten Terrier, and Finley, my Barbet, are becoming true "Family Companions"!

Joanne C. - Buffalo, New York

I am ingratiated beyond words to Ms. Marcia Richie and Dr. Julia Albright for their expertise, professionalism, perseverance, dedication, compassion, and support in working with me and my dog, Darcy, a pit bull terrier mix with fear-based behavior problems. My beloved pet, who had experienced severe abuse as a puppy, experienced a gravely serious social regression following my relocation to Western New York in March 2010.

It is no understatement to say that Marcia and Dr. Albright's assistance in rehabilitating Darcy's fear-based aggression were, and remain, integral to Darcy's continued survival. Using their collective expertise to address Darcy's problem on physiological and psychological levels, Ms. Richie and Dr. Albright have adeptly met each obstacle and challenge, and have provided me with every resource, including vitally important emotional support, needed to ensure success for Darcy. Ms. Richie works tirelessly and consistently exceeds expectations in implementing innovative training techniques, and has earned the respect of an extensive network of professionals to assist her when necessary. Dr. Albright has provided invaluable consultation to our local veterinarian to ensure that Darcy's evolving medicinal needs are continually met.

Although Darcy is a dog that many professionals would have been justified in refusing to work with, Ms. Richie and Dr. Albright's efforts have produced a happy, healthy dog whose quality of life continues to improve every day. Darcy is thriving, both physically and emotionally, and we are enjoying growing social opportunities. Ms. Richie and Dr. Albright have given me back my best friend, and for that, I will be forever grateful beyond words. There is no measure of endorsement that could possibly justify the quality of their work and the quality of their character.

Keri & Darcy - Lancaster, New York I adopted Buster in November, 2016 following loss of my beloved "Scooby" in January 2016 at 14 years of age (a 70 lb. boxer-shepherd mix). I found Buster at Joyful Rescues, a 35 lb. hound/lab mix, who'd been surrendered at about one year of age. Love at first sight! Challenges began as I brought Buster to his forever home. He was fearful of everything! Could not walk him ...he freaked out with each passing car; "tripping me" by running to & fro. I enlisted Marcia to help me. Her 5 weeks of private lessons were invaluable. She trained me with techniques that enabled me to train Buster on basic commands, "heel walking" and using "freedom harness" to control Buster on walks. Her advice on calming his fears & many other behavior issues were invaluable. On Marcia's advice, I enrolled Buster in "the Family Companion" Graduate training obedience class. He did great, thanks to a "Training Manual" written by Marcia and furnished by Jill Gmitrowski, our trainer.The Manual was a super resource that kept us on track for each week's progress. Jill was incredible for her expert training, and with advice to assist me and Buster with specific challenges. Buster passed his AKC "Good Citizen Tests" on 5/11/17 and we're moving on to "Therapy Dog" preparation training with the Family Companion! Buster has LOTs to give to others & we're grateful for the all the great folks at the Family Companion for helping us to do so! Very best, Kristina & Buster