A Girl and Her Dog

Not only has this project been beneficial for Pluto’s behavior, but Kern and Pluto have gotten the chance to work and grow together (Photo courtesy of Rylee Kern).

Not only has this project been beneficial for Pluto’s behavior, but Kern and Pluto have gotten the chance to work and grow together (Photo courtesy of Rylee Kern).

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A dog is a man’s best friend, and one of the many ways that canine companions assist humans is by providing emotional comfort when needed. The dogs that are specifically trained to provide that comfort  are called therapy dogs. The training is long and drawn-out, but the reward is unrivaled. Senior Rylee Kern has chosen to undertake this task by training her dog, Pluto, to be a therapy dog.

“My sister, Steph, is moving in February to join the Navy. Pluto is her dog and since our family is going to have to adjust to her absence around the house, we thought it would be an awesome idea to have Pluto trained to become therapy dog,” said Kern.

Pluto began with basic training; however, being a prodigy, Pluto quickly moved to basic therapy dog training.

“[Pluto] already knew the commands for basic training, so we didn’t have to make him take the class!” said Kern.

Pluto’s behavior has also improved dramatically from his puppy days.

“[Pluto]’s always been good with anyone: kids, toddlers, and adults. He knows no strangers, but he’s such a friendly dog. He’s more obedient, and pays attention to his commands much better. He’s more mature and out of his puppy stage,” said Kern.

Kern has worked diligently through problems involving the ownership of Pluto, and she risked losing a friend and the subject of her senior project.

“Pluto’s sister, Remi, ran through our invisible fence. Pluto saw that she did and decided to run away too. Pluto would do whatever Remi did, so when Remi wouldn’t listen to my dad when he went to go get them, he got angry. He told my sister she needed to get rid of the dogs. Usually, he’s just bluffing, but Steph felt bad enough that she wouldn’t be home to take care of them. So she put them up for adoption. When I heard this, I was a wreck and it took all the convincing in the world to let my dad have us keep them still. In the end, we ended up keeping them,” said Kern.

Kern advises others who want to work with animals to be thoughtful in their choice.

“If someone was considering it, I’d make sure the dog already has the basic commands and training complete. It makes much less of a time crunch and the dog will be much more obedient,” said Kern.

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