"To love what you do and feel that it matters,
how on earth could anything be more fun?"
~Katherine Graham

 
All-Around READing Dogs
Guam ~ "Duke"  

This golden retriever therapy dog is listening to a boy reading aloud.

Duke is a welcome reading buddy
for youngsters of all ages.

Although unable to set up a regular schedule with schools due to the amount of travel they are required to do, Dona has been able to bring Duke when she volunteers at the USO. Duke helps educate children about responsible dog ownership. She also wanted very much to convince the local library system to give reading dogs a try. After Dona met another military spouse with a therapy dog, she was able to plan their first visit to the library in October 2011. Dona has seen kids blossom by spending time with Duke, and she hopes to be able to continue seeing those special moments. Hopefully, one day they will be settled in a place where Duke can once again work in a school setting.

In the meantime, they try to be flexible. Maybe Dona should write a book: "Where's Duke?"

Stories about Golden Retrievers include:

Ginger's Story: A Golden Retriver Reflects Upon Her Life With Humans, by Steven Wells
Lost Souls: Found! Inspiring Stories About Golden Retrievers, edited by Kyla Duffy and Lowrey Mumford
One Golden Year, by Colleen Hubbard

(Click on the titles above for a brief description and convenient ordering information.)

Meet, Duke, a Golden Retriever with a quiet, calming demeanor that is perfect for the rather unusual life he’s leading. Quite the world traveler, Duke was just 8 weeks old when he began life with Dona and her Naval Officer husband on the sunny island of Guam. Faithfully following his family ever since, Duke has lived in Guam, Maryland, Belgium, back to Maryland, then to Connecticut—he's back in Guam now, but who knows where he'll be next!

No stranger to pet therapy, Dona had used other pets, including a giant angora rabbit and llamas, but never a therapy dog. When Duke was two years old, they did some therapy training and he passed his certification. They began volunteering by visiting local hospitals and nursing homes, but shortly thereafter Dona’s husband received orders to transfer to Belgium.

This golden retriever visits schools and libraries to listen to children practice reading.

Duke's gentle temperament
is typical of Golden Retrievers and
helps him be a wonderful reading companion.

Language and other difficulties presented a problem for Dona in trying to have Duke visit the local Belgium hospital, but then she happened upon some R.E.A.D® information and thought, Perfect! Two of my favorite things—dogs and reading. She talked with the staff of the local Department of Defense school and soon she and Duke became regular fixtures in their reading room for the next two years.

Upon their transfer back to Maryland, Duke and Dona began training to visit the wounded warriors at Bethesda Hospital; however, new orders meant they were on their way to Connecticut before training was complete. In Connecticut, Duke enjoyed being part of a therapy dog group at a local elementary school. That experience, too, was short-lived as they were soon sent back to Guam.

 

 

     
 
 
 
 

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