For Kathi Jo Zornes, therapy dogs have been a part of her life for several years, but she sees something in her current dog Beck that she believes is truly special.
Since July 2011 Zornes and Beck, a Beagle/English Setter mix, have worked together to provide a paws-on service to the community. According to Zornes, Beck has traveled locally to elementary schools like Minford, Notre Dame, and Wheelersburg, worked closely with area Girl Scouts, and has been very active with the Autism Project of Southern Ohio, as well as making longer trips around the country to do what he does best.
“Beck is a special friend to the Autism Project,” said Mike Bell, President of the Autism Project of Southern Ohio. “He enjoys coming and visiting the kids and he does a lot of different things, he has a special attachment to them as well. He’s been to several meetings, and made a special visit to the Annual Autism weekend camp.”
Zornes described herself as a big dog lover and stated she got involved with therapy dogs after seeing the outreach they could provide. “We wanted to get involved to basically benefit the community,” said Zornes. On August 1, the duo visited The Potter’s House in Sciotoville and helped teach kids about the importance of proper dog safety during their summer kids feeding program, offered as an outreach of the Sciotoville Church of the Nazarene and Community Action. Children got to practice how to properly approach a dog and how to pet them once they have an owner’s permission during his visit. Beck then delighted young and old alike when he turned on his charm and performed tricks. The healthy snack for the day for the kids as well as dog safety coloring books, activity books, book markers, pencils & stickers were also donated by therapy dog Beck as part of his outreach for the community.
Zornes stated that she got Beck when he was only 5 ½ months old, and was able to tell early on that he had the right temperament to be a therapy dog. Beck underwent basic obedience training, testing by a therapy dog evaluator, and had to be up to date on all immunizations and preventative medicines before a series of paperwork completed his certification as a therapy dog.
“He’s very laid back. He likes to show off, he’s kind of a flamboyant boy. He’s very easy going and likes to lay down with the kids, but he’ll shake, he can high-five, he can dig on command, he sits and stays off leash,” said Zornes. “He’s got a lot of obedience skills and his fame that the kids really like the most is when he reads a story back to the kids.”
Zornes explained that when he was only a puppy, they learned that Beck could bray and would do so when Zornes would point to words on a page, as if he were reading. This special talent soon became his most favored trick, and resonated well with his audience of children who were too just learning to read.
Zornes said Beck, who will turn 10 years old on Christmas Eve, will continue his work as a therapy dog until he decides his time is up. “We read him as far as his behavior and how he feels. We figure he will let us know when he’s ready to retire, but that isn’t yet,” said Zornes.
Zornes stated that she and Beck are more than happy to make appearances around the community, busy schedule permitting. Those interested in having a therapy dog visit can contact her for availability, and if scheduling conflicts occur, Zornes can refer interested parties to other therapy dogs like Beck.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932