An Interview with the Paws behind “Pause for Paws”
A favorite College of Social Work event is our end-of-semester therapy animal visit with teams from Utah Pet Partners. Students, faculty, and staff from across campus congregate in the CSW’s atrium to visit with registered therapy dogs … and occasionally, registered therapy cats. Unfortunately, the lockdowns and precautions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on these Pause for Paws events. So—in lieu of a Fall Semester visit to the College—we asked Utah Pet Partners therapy dog Henry, a 3-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, to give us a glimpse into his life and career.
interACTION: How long have you been a therapy dog?
Henry (translated through his human handler and Utah Pet Partners executive director, Debbie Carr): I’m new, so I’ve only gone on one visit so far. It was to the University of Utah and I met some really nice ladies who petted my feet.
interACTION: What do you like about your therapy animal work?
Henry: I like meeting new people and getting treats. When I can tell someone feels sad, I can help them feel better. My mom thinks I’m the best therapy dog because I’m so sweet. Some of my therapy dog friends changed careers from being guide dogs for the blind, and some are therapy dogs and service dogs.
interACTION: What do you do to prepare for a visit?
Henry: I have to take a bath. Baths are not very much fun, but Mom feeds me lots of treats during baths. Sometimes they taste a little soapy. After my bath, I get a bunch more treats and Mom uses the blow dryer. Then Mom brushes me and brushes me, trims my ears, shaves my feet, files my nails, brushes my teeth, and I get more treats.
interACTION: What’s your favorite way for students or clients to interact with you?
Henry: I like to be petted on the white fur. I’m kind of color coded that way. I also like being petted behind my ears. And, of course, I love it when they give me treats.
interACTION: What’s your favorite treat?
Henry: I get Cheerios when I’m working, because Mom says sometimes clients forget and will put my treats in their mouths. I get the good chicken and apple sausage treats when I get a bath. I really like bully sticks, but Mom only lets me chew on them for 20 minutes. She sets a timer. When it beeps, we all go outside and have chicken and apple sausage treats.
interACTION: Do you have a favorite trick that you like to show clients?
Henry: I whisper in Mom’s ear and that always makes people laugh.
interACTION: What do you like to do after a visit?
Henry: Mom gives me more treats and lets me go outside to play with my ball and watch the chickens. I like to watch the chickens.
interACTION: We hear you’re pretty good with a ball! In your expert opinion, who do you think
will win the Rose Bowl this year?
Henry: The University of Utah, of course!
interACTION: When you’re not relieving student stress, what do you do in your free time?
Henry: I like to watch the chickens, and I like to nap on the mat next to Mom’s desk. When my Aunt Jen visits, she rubs my sides with her legs and messes up my fur. I think it’s funny.
interACTION: If you could be anything you want, what would you be—a lap dog, a big dog, a cat
(if you dare admit this), or something else?
Henry: I like being who I am, because I’m just the right size to sleep on the bed. The cats like to get under the covers and that’s too hot. If I were a bigger dog, I’d have to sleep on the floor.
interACTION: When do you think you’ll visit the U again?
Henry: I’m excited to go back to the University when people get vaccinated and COVID goes away, because dogs can get COVID, too. I’m not afraid of people wearing masks because Mom practices with me at home. I get treats when she wears a mask.