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.
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.