Golden Retrievers like La Vie pictured here with his R.E.A.D.® partner, Scott, have long been a favorite pet and one of America’s most popular breeds. In fact, because of an idea thought up by fourth-grade students at Daybreak Elementary in Utah, and after an appearance by a Golden Retriever therapy dog named Gus at the witness stand with his owner, SB53, which would declare the Golden Retriever the official “state domestic animal,” was sent on to the full Senate in February 2015.
La Vie and Scott,
life is good.
After Scott had to retire early due to post-polio issues, he decided he couldn’t just sit around but wanted to do something. He loved working with dogs his whole life, training hunting dogs as a child with his father and then obedience and agility as an adult. He wanted to give back and thought therapy volunteering would be easy. He says it was not, and that although his dog was amazing and very confident and smart, he himself needed a lot of help. Nevertheless, he persevered and eventually became a Pet Partner licensed evaluator and instructor. Although he stopped counting after 3,000 hours, he knows he spent 1,100 hours just in the hospital. They likely have a total of more than 5,000 hours volunteering wherever someone wanted him and La Vie.
La Vie lets this little guy check out his mouth.
La Vie has been visiting an elementary school for almost 3 years, letting kids read to him. Those kids read to him for practice but also love to see one of his many tricks. Some of the tricks that make the kids laugh include when he’s told to play dead--he keeps wagging his tail, until told that dead dogs don’t wag their tails. Then he stops. He knows how to pray at a chair with his head down, paws on the chair, and he knows how to back up if someone says, “beep-beep-beep.”
Scott comments that one of his most amazing R.E.A.D. stories is about a little girl whose parent had been murdered, and she was very fearful. One day she came into the room and asked if she could hug La Vie. Scott said sure, and then she said I hope I can find a dog like La Vie one day. Scott says that bought him to tears.
Scott appreciates that there are a lot of great dogs in the R.E.A.D. Program giving their all to help kids, and he feels the R.E.A.D.ing Paws Program is just amazing. He says that for him, “…just to be allowed to help kids in any fashion is the greatest gift of life. Top that off with an amazing dog and life gets no better.”