After being trained by late, local pit-bull legend Buddy the Therapy Dog into a mentality of therapy needs, these two pups now serve as a bastion of comfort for their newly found families.
Tater and Biscuit were born into a litter of 8 dogs. Though it seemed they would become a household pet like any other, their futures were meant for something more. After being trained by late, local pit-bull legend Buddy the Therapy Dog into a mentality of therapy needs, these two pups now serve as a bastion of comfort for their newly found families.
Ann Danner lived much of her life with a high level of anxiety and spouts of depression. After moving to the area, the issues continued and she reached out to her friend who was a health specialist in the area. This would go on to lead her to the idea of a therapy dog.
“I kept saying I felt lonely here,” Danner said. “I was happy, but lonely, and I wanted a dog.”
Danner would soon meet Karen Williams, owner of Buddy’s Way Positive Dog Training. She led Danner to see a litter of puppies and help to pick one out. She says she went to see the pups and couldn’t make a choice between them all. That is, until she locked eyes with Biscuit. Danner says the connection was made immediately and she knew Biscuit would be her new friend.
From this point forward, Danner worked with Williams to train Biscuit in commands and obedience. Williams says Danner was put through hours of training to adapt Biscuit to her needs. This led the two to become in sync with one another for nearly 6 weeks. Now, four years later, Danner says Biscuit has become her best friend.
Danner says that it is now to the point that Biscuit will obey every command given and has even gotten to the point of understanding her moods and adapting his own to them. She says she talks to him at times just like a human and he has learned to respond in his own ways. When she’s feeling down, he comes to her side to comfort her and bring her emotions back in balance.
“It makes a huge difference,” Danner said. “He just became my everything to me.”
Danner’s grandson Sean Hill has also learned to become closer with Biscuit. They did not get along at first, but Hill has grown to understand the ways that Biscuit understands and has even come to utilize Biscuit’s training for his own needs.
“He always knows when to make me happy,” Hill said. “Instead of a rainy day, it’s a happy day.”
Biscuit was not the only dog in his litter to go into therapy needs. His sister Tater is now performing the same role, but to a much different person. Emma Pacheco is a young girl who has struggled with emotional imbalance her whole life. Carrie O’Keefe, who is in a relationship with Pacheco’s mother, says she has known Pacheco for two and a half years now and says she has witnessed separation issues, to the point where they couldn’t leave the room without her getting upset. She says Pacheco’s attention can sway drastically and at times, she will act mature and suddenly switch to acting like a toddler.
O’Keefe says that she knew Pacheco needed a change in the environment. Working at Woods Supermarket, O’Keefe said Williams came into the store to purchase meat and the introduction was made. Williams made the suggestion of supplying Pacheco with a dog and had the perfect one in mind.
Pacheco has now been with Tater for four months and has been going through similar training as Danner. O’Keefe says the difference with Tater was been immediate and drastic. She says Pacheco and Tater balance each other out. When her anxiety is high, Tater will beckon her to play to help bring down her energy. They stay by each other's side like they are linked. Tater is always willing to help center Pacheco’s emotions out. O’Keefe says Tater is even available at times to help out the rest of the family.
“She is still learning to command Tater, but the bond between all of us has become so helpful,” O’Keefe said.
Pacheco decided to buy a number of outfits for Tater, such as a tutu and a Wonder Woman costume. O’Keefe says this helps with the bond that the two have made together. Only being together four months so far, O’Keefe says the learning process is still in full effect and they are learning to utilize the support Tater brings every day. Danner says that, in their four years together with Biscuit, it took the first few years to gain a full understanding of everything this dog could bring into their lives.
Williams says that many times, these dogs need to be the only one in the household in order to pack together with the humans they represent. With a job to do, she says it’s easier to work in their role when they aren’t sharing attention.
Williams says that, when she took the dogs in initially, she knew they would be great representatives of exactly what therapy dogs could do. The training dog with Biscuit and Tater was given for free by Williams to Danner and Pacheco and she says she is so thankful to see them flourishing in their new roles and families.
“We wanted to show the community what a therapy dog, or a dog with training, was really capable of,” Williams said.