Bryan the Service Dog
This September, Colony American Homes is encouraging our residents & employees alike to get involved in the local community. We’ve created the Colony Cares Blog Series to showcase our Employees giving back.
This week, we hear from Anna and her service dog, Bryan’s, involvement with an organization called Gabriel’s Angels.
Scottsdale, AZ Office
Living with a service dog is a rewarding and humbling experience on so many levels. From the moment Bryan was adopted, I knew there was something special about him. When I spoke to him he didn’t just hear me, he listened. His 52 pounds of calm demeanor, easygoing personality, and gentle cuddling said something about him. I’ve never seen a dog as happy, loyal, and smart as Bryan. Easy to train and take anywhere, he quickly became my companion on car trips, errands, and, of course, hikes.
A year after Bryan joined my family, my dad learned about a program called Gabriel’s Angels. Their mission is to deliver healing pet therapy to at-risk children, nurturing their emotional development and enhancing the quality of their lives forever. Seeing that Bryan responded really well and had the upmost patience for children, we thought this was the perfect fit.
After applying, Bryan had to go through a few tests before being accepted. To start, he was evaluated on how well he did in busy places with lots of distractions. We took him to the local Farmers Market where there was food, people, and other dogs around. He easily stayed close and focused. He was also evaluated on how he did at an Alzheimer’s hospital. The patients were so welcoming of Bryan, and he, of course, loved all of the attention! He passed with flying colors. Lastly, he was tested on how he responded to having his tail, ears, and fur grabbed. After a few more evaluations at the Farmers Market, Bryan was given his official therapy dog tag and working vest. Good boy!
Bryan and my dad became a volunteering team. Every other week they go to a classroom with at-risk children and together help them build trust, empathy, and respect through activities with Bryan. A visit that really stood out to the children was when they made Bryan’s paw prints in clay. As you can imagine, Bryan was quite anxious with so many children touching his paws, so they had to learn how to show compassion and gentleness so that he knew he was okay.
Other visits included grooming exercises, listening to his heart, listening and training exercises, and so much more. On the last visit before school was out, the kids were able to write a letter to Bryan that let them recognize emotions and feelings and express them in words.
Bryan’s first year of therapy dog service has been completed, with lots of lessons for both the children and Bryan. I am so excited to see what the next school year has in store, and to see the children and Bryan continue to grow through love, empathy, respect, and trust.