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At Your Service

English Cocker Spaniel in Therapy work

This article was originally published in Showsight Magazine, March 2013 issue.


At Your Service

One of the most endearing traits of the English Cocker Spaniel is not how much we love them but how much they love us. This breed does love to be worshiped but it is their love, loyalty and total devotion to their human that makes them so irresistible. This is why I tell people who are considering adding an English Cocker to their family that they are like potato chips—it is very difficult to just own one. They move in, take over, and we could never live without them again.

English Cockers do enjoy having a job, although they are not obsessed with it like other breeds. Some love to do Agility, some love Obedience, others have a great aptitude for tracking or hunting and even the best show dogs often exhibit a great aptitude for hunting and have a natural birdiness. The pet parakeet is never safe when an ECS shares their home.

One of the greatest jobs and most rewarding for dog and owner is Therapy work. The English Cocker is a naturally empathetic creature and there are countless cases of ECS Therapy dogs being able to bring the people they visit to a much happier place.

Megan Belle, a beautiful blue English Cocker owned by Stanley and Gerry Pajkos, is a big hit at Nursing Homes. She always appears in costume and the residents can’t wait to see what her latest attire will be when she and her owner arrive for a visit. She brings great joy to the residents as a Certified Therapy Dog, a job she has been doing since she was just 18 months old.

One lovely black girl named Daphne specialized in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. She was on the floor of a nursing home visiting the Dementia unit and the nurses asked her human to stop by to see a gentleman with MS who had slipped in to such a depression that he had not communicated for months. They lifted Daphne on to his bed and he reached up to pet her when tears began running down his face and he said, “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.” His whole outlook was improved by this little dog and he could not wait for Sundays when “his Daphne” was coming to see him.

English Cockers visit hospitals, nursing homes, and especially love to visit children’s hospitals. Beverly Craft, who visits Hospitals and Nursing Homes with her ECS, MeMe and Rita along with their “honorary ECS” Peach, is also a Tester/ Observer for her local Therapy Dogs Inc. Beverly says that along with bringing joy to the residents Therapy work is truly rewarding for the dogs and owners and she highly encourages owners to give it a try.

Courtesy of the Family Resource Center, Macdonough Elementary School, Middletown, CT.

ECSCA past Junior member Zena Brenner has been doing Therapy work with her ECS Cruz since she was a High School student. They especially loved visiting the students in the local school districts Special Education classes. Zena is a perfect example of how getting kids involved in dogs through Junior Showmanship can lead to great things in life as Zena has been awarded multiple scholarships and is now on her way to Graduate School in Australia. We are all very proud of her success and continuing service to her community.

English Cocker Spaniels also make outstanding Reading Assistance Dogs. When a child is having problems with reading, and is reluctant to read out loud, the kind face and loving look of an English Cocker helps the child read to the dog with no trace of judgment. This often gives the child the confidence to eventually read out loud to their teacher and class. Robin and Juno are two very special Reading Assistance Dogs who have been featured in their local newspapers for their service to the local students. The kids at Juno’s school have even dedicated books to the library in Juno’s name and Juno’s owner brings special bookmarks and stickers with her photo on them which the kids love to receive.

There are also quite a few English Cockers who work with psychologists and therapists. Tucker, Myrtle, Annie and Sid all live with therapists and not only go to work with their humans but also have patients of their own. It turns out that English Cockers are very good at keeping secrets, and sharing something deeply painful with a canine therapist is the first step in the patient being able to share their pain with their human therapist.

English Cockers also have an affinity for working with children on the Autism Spectrum. Several ECS are constant companions and best friends to these children and their canine companions are invaluable to their communication with the world and in learning how to relate to another being.

To sum it all up, English Cocker Spaniels are truly captivating creatures and those of us that have the great pleasure of sharing our lives with them are among the luckiest people on earth.