An Inspiring Story Of Storm The Rescued Therapy Dog

Today’s story features Storm, a rescue dog who now works to help seniors and children. We saw a photo of Storm sitting with Pauline’s son reading, with the caption:

 “Storm, my therapy dog, learning to sit patiently while my 9 year old son reads to her. Storm currently works with children who are struggling to read in our local libraries and schools.” 
We were excited to learn more about this little rescue’s journey into therapy work where she is changing the lives of people daily. We spoke with Pauline,  owner of Storm and a groomer, walker, sitter and caregiver at Everything Dogs Halton about her story and work with Therapeutic Paws of Canada. 

Storm’s Rescue Story told by Pauline

Originally Daisy and now known as Storm, the newest member of the Broadhurst family was advertised on Take Me Home Rescue‘s site in 2014.  She was being fostered in a lovely home in Mississauga, Ontario and we were looking for a small dog as we had a 7-year-old.  We figured that we were going to take a look at her and come home and decide if she was the one for us…yeah sure!  After 5 minutes with her, we were hooked.  Daisy was living with a gorgeous Rottweiler and we would have taken them both if my husband wasn’t allergic to the bigger dog.  We picked her up 3 days later.
“It feels like Storm has been with us forever…she has a feisty terrier attitude and is perfectly suited to a busy family with a young child.  She likes to run around and loves to exercise but is also happy to sit and chill with my older son too.”
Storm has a very infectious waggy disposition!  She actually won a prize at our local summer fair this year for the waggiest tail. Right from the beginning we knew we had a very special dog, she was so placid and well behaved.  She loves attention from anyone and is wonderful with children.
Since Storm came into our lives, my personal life has totally changed.  I re-found my passion to be with animals, gave up my 20-year office job and became a dog groomer. I am also working to become a therapy team evaluator…who’d have thought it? None of this would have happened if it hadn’t have been for our little rescue dog.
My mother is in the UK and is very sick. She loves all the family dogs after losing her own last year and when we video call in the mornings, her face lights up when she sees Storm on the screen. Storm is happy to sit and listen to my mom call her name and chat with her.  Storm can’t help but bring light to everyone she connects with.

Training A Rescue Dog for Therapy Work

Pauline says consistency and full family devotion to training was key for Storm and led to her success.
She knew the basics but we were adamant that she was going to be a very well-behaved pooch.  The whole family was on board or we weren’t going to have a dog in the first place.  Every day one of us took responsibility for her training, even my 7-year-old son under our direction.  I wasn’t even contemplating therapy work when we got her. Therapy work is more about the dog’s personality and the ability of the handler though, even the most obedient dog may not be capable of therapy work.
If you think you have a dog that is polite and well mannered, enjoys lots of attention and likes to be petted, take a look at the Therapeutic Paws of Canada website.  There’s lots of information and a link to your local Team Leader so you can get started.  It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do for others and yourself if your dog enjoys it.

Working With Therapeutic Paws of Canada

Everything just seemed to fall into place at the right time,  I worked for a physio clinic and was chatting with one of the patients about the therapy work she does with her Pyrenees.  At that point, I decided that Storm was such a wonderful dog that it would be a shame to keep her to ourselves and looked into becoming a therapy dog handler.  I studied YouTube videos to see what was involved.  The lady I’d been chatting to at work gave me the name of the Therapeutic Paws of Canada local Team Leader, it turned out that she was also one of our patients.

Senior Visits With TPOC

At the Senior’s Centers I walk around the floors and if there is anyone who shows an interest, I ask if they would like a visit with Storm.  As she’s so little, she is ok to sit on their lap or on the side of their bed and will happily just allow them to pet her and chat with her.  There are a couple that would like to sneak her a cookie or two but I always have her own treats handy for them.
After a few visits, you get to know some of the residents and there are a few that you know have a special interest and bond with your dog.  It’s amazing to see how a furry friend makes their eyes light up and some reminisce about when they had dogs and other animals and how much they loved and miss them.

The Paws to Read

The Paws to Read program is special for me.  It was what I really set out to do with Storm. This program is set up for children who have problems with their confidence or interest in reading.  I am just there as a handler and Storm does all the work.
The children get to read or describe the pictures to Storm.  I don’t correct them and will only give assistance with the reading if they ask. This way, they get to know that they are not being corrected or criticized.  While they are reading they can pet Storm and chat with her and this really puts them at ease. It sometimes helps special needs children to become or stay calm.  The children get to sit and read to a soft, cuddly Storm. She doesn’t judge and she gets a treat at the beginning and end of each session…win win all round.
Sometimes in the schools, she is surrounded by children wanting to pet her and I can only see her leash amongst the crowd, but her tail is always the frantically wagging signal protruding among the masses.
One special needs child who has been on the Paws To Read program with me for 2 years.  The difference between when he started and today is astounding.  I know it’s not all because of Storm and myself, but his mom has mentioned more than once about how Storm is his favourite animal and he can’t wait to get to school to read to her so that definitely makes all our efforts worthwhile.  I figure that even if we only make a difference in this child’s life, it’s all worth it.
At home, Storm is just a part of the family, no therapy work, just love and devotion…from both sides. Even therapy dogs have their routines!  Every night is “bum bite night’ according to Storm and my 9-year-old son.  When he is ready to go to bed, she knows it’s time and as he runs up the hall she is right on his heels.  Once in his bedroom, she will jump on his bed and ‘attack’ him.  They play fight for 5 minutes with him under his quilt and her on top barking and mouthing any part of him she can find.  There have been a few nights recently when, because he’s now a “big boy” he’s gone to bed on his own and she sits outside his door, whining and sulking until I open it and she gets her special play time.
We hope you were inspired by Storm and her wonderful family. If you are interested in getting involved with Theraputic Paws of Canada, click here for more information.

Share stories in the comments below of how your dog makes life better.

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