A dog is a man’s best friend. In the case of one very special yellow labrador, they can be so much more.
Charlie Crockett is in training to become a therapy dog for the elderly and sick children. He is six months old and has been living with the Crockett family since he was a puppy. Seniors Clare and Morgan Crockett love spending time with him and teaching him new tricks. He is so calm that their mom came up with the idea to have him trained as a therapy dog. He seemed like the perfect dog for the job.
“My mom just came home one day with the idea. She ended up signing Charlie up before any of us [family members] had anything to say,” Morgan said.
“He is extremely calm and collected, so when my mom saw people working with dogs at UNMC, she thought that we might be interested in it,” Clare said. Charlie was accepted into the program, but not all dogs get such an opportunity. Acceptance is based on class size and if there is room for dogs.
“Charlie will be training at the Humane Society, and the room there can only hold about 12 dogs. So fortunately for Charlie, he was accepted,” Clare said.
The family is excited for what’s to come and hopes that he will be able to assist others. “It’s scary. We don’t want him to flunk out, and it will be lots of work, but the process will make an impact on other people’s lives,” Clare said.
The road to making a difference is a long one. Charlie’s training could take anywhere from six to eight months. “We’re just getting started, so we don’t really know how long it could take yet,” Morgan said. Charlie has to prove that he excels in all his tasks before he can be approved to help people.
“Charlie also has to meet a list of basic requirements before he can being therapy training. These include: sit, down, stay, leave it, and walking nicely on a leash. He has to be able to perform these basic behaviors outside of our home in a public place, such as Scheels or Petco,” Morgan said. He also must be able to handle a variety of other situations such as dealing with a hyper or excited person or passing other dogs without wanting to play or scuffle. Charlie will be expected to stay calm and collected at all times. This portion of training could last almost a year.
After all his training is completed, Charlie will become a certified therapy dog. Some of his main duties will include visiting hospitals and nursing homes. He will spend time with sick patients and children. Charlie will also interact with the elderly who need a companion at nursing homes. He will be bringing as much joy to those he’s serving as he has brought to the Crockett family. Charlie will be able to share his loveable personality with those who need some cheer and excitement in their lives.
*Note: This story was published in print with an error in fact. It has been corrected in this online version. Charlie is not in training to be a service dog, but a therapy dog. The Network staff humbly apologizes for the error and thanks Mrs. Jane Campbell and therapy dog, Max, for the clarification.