A Therapy Dog for Dogs

November 14, 2012  

Fergie the pit bull acts as a ‘therapy dog’ to other dogs, helping them open up and have fun

By Lynette Combs

When we go to the dog park, she always seeks out the other rescue dogs and first-timers – those who arrive at the park nervous, undersocialized and snapping at the other dogs. Often, the new owners report that these dogs have never had other dogs to play with; they may even have spent their lives “chained out” before they were discarded. Faced with the dog park pack, they are usually tense and overly reactive.

Fergie dances around them, play-bowing, darting in and out of reach, sometimes tapping them lightly on the shoulder. Then she runs a few steps, looking back over her shoulder, trying to draw them into chasing her. Often they do, barking and growling; and sometimes they even nip her from behind, but Fergie never minds this and never retaliates. She always comes back and starts over, visibly trying to make her body language as submissive and invitational as possible, keeping her expression “soft” and open. Eventually they jump after her again, a second time, then a third. Then suddenly they forget themselves and become dogs again, play-chasing and wagging with the rest. And the owner is usually left exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, she’s never done that before! My dog never plays with anybody!”

A lot of rescue dogs come to our park now, and I’ve seen this tactic work with Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers, pit bulls and others. This week, I heard the lady with two rescue Beagles tell another owner, “If anybody can get your new dog to play, Fergie can!” The new dog was a hyper-vigilant young Labradoodle, but Fergie wasn’t put off at all by its size or snappiness. Within minutes she had the new dog starting to relax and tentatively chasing her. Now the Labradoodle will play with anyone.

Fergie leading the pack around the park at top speed is such a familiar sight now that we all yell, “Ruuuunnn Fergieeee, ruuunnnn!” (Like “Run, Forest, run!”)

I’ve never had a dog who acted as a “therapy dog” to others of her species. I’m amazed and grateful every time I see it. It’s an indication of her soft heart and great spirit. This is also what makes her such a great ambassador for her breed.

She is my first pit bull type dog … but she won’t be my last.

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6 Responses to “A Therapy Dog for Dogs”
  1. ReneeMKeller says:

    Aww Fergie!!  What a hero!!!

  2. Judithg says:

    Hooray for Fergie the pitbull ambassador!

  3. LilisNotes says:

    Fergie is pure awesomeness!

  4. AnnettaJean says:

    Fergie is an angel on Earth, bringing peace and fun to the hearts of previously disadvantaged dogs and their brave new families.  Please hug her and tell her Miss Netta and her pack of 6 rescue dogs think she’s great!

  5. avegas72 says:

    I love these kind of stories. Positive, uplifting…and a reminder of how wonderful these dogs can be.