The most accepted terms for this field are Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA). AAT involves
working with someone when a specific goal has been identified. If you do this as a
volunteer, you will work with a professional who will assist you in selecting goals for
different individuals. AAA are those activities designed to strengthen someone's quality
of life. Usually performed by volunteers, they are generally "meet and greet"
Meet Golden Stormy
This article has been
reproduced through the permission of Sylvia Donahey, editor
of the Golden Retriever Club of
More about Stormy from
Cathy Casper . . .
I acquired Stormy when he was 8-weeks-old. My heart dog
Lincoln had been a constant visitor at the schools and
nursing homes here for a number of years. He was getting
older and I knew if I wanted to continue the school program
I would have to start to train another dog. [Shown below
in 2006 is Lincoln on the left with pal Stormy]
From the minute Stormy came home, it was obvious he was
different. I wasn't quite sure how, but he just was not like
all my other Goldens. Later I learned, his differences were
in his uncanny sixth sense, in his ability to know what
people need and be able to give it to them. And, in his
ability to understand whatever you say to him and respond to
Growing up, he did not like all the things Goldens usually
like. Stormy's really not a water dog, though he will go in.
He's never touched a tennis ball for more than a second, but
instead has a stuffed rabbit he carries everywhere. I
lovingly refer to him as my wimp.
After he came home from being with Maddy in Michigan, he
clearly wasn't the same. I believe he knew what was
happening and was forever affected by it. But still he lives
for his outings, to the school, to the nursing homes or
anywhere where he's going to be able to make a new friend.
Stormy is my hero, my daughter and I were just the vehicle
to get him to Maddy in Michigan. Had he been able to drive
himself, he would have. It is difficult to even put into
words how much I love this dog and how extremely proud of
him I am. Most people only have one heart dog in their
lives. I have been lucky enough to have two. Stormy is
slowing down now and that only makes me think of four or
five years from now and eventually losing this wonderful
guy. When that happens my life will never be the same. But I
have learned so many lessons from this guy, and I am sure he
still has a lot left to show and teach me.
I also wanted to mention two things. When all this came to
light and I was trying to get therapy dogs to see Maddy in
Chicago, the first thing I did was call the manager of the
American Girl Store (Scott) and told him the story. He went
out of his way to take packages to the hotel that they were
staying at, and to tell the employees at the hotel what was
happening. When Maddy and her family pulled up, they
literally rolled out the red carpet for them. He has never
gotten any credit because of course the story is about the
Goldens, but I wanted to mention that he went out of his way
to help her have a wonderful time.
Also, people have said how nice it was for me to do this.
But, I was just trying to fill a little girl's need. I am
not the special one in this story. All the people that
helped out at a moment's notice are. They are my heroes and
they made it all come together.
More about Stormy from
Kelly Marsh Casper . . .
is an intelligent and loving Golden Retriever who will be
six this summer. Originally, his owner, Cathy Casper,
intended on showing the handsome dog. But fate had another
plan. Stormy grew to be outside standard, becoming a gentle
giant – a trait that would serve him well when he left the
show ring. In addition, Stormy, when showing, would often
find a point on the ceiling while in the ring, to which he
would crane his head and become fixated – almost as if there
were a fly on the ceiling that no one else could see. So
Stormy left the show ring, and found his calling that has
brought joy and comfort to many.
Upon leaving the ring, Stormy found a family of children and
strangers that all know his name and who light up the moment
they see him coming. Stormy’s career started locally near
his home when obtained his TDI certification. Then Cathy
began taking him to schools for the READ Program. The
Program encourages children to read, and assists children
who may have difficulty reading aloud. At the schools, the
children will read to Stormy, who will listen as intently as
he stared at the ceiling in the show ring.
Occasionally, Stormy will put his nose to Cathy’s ear, as
if he’s whispering a secret to her. For example, if a child
is reading a story and says the word “gorilla,” it’s at that
moment he will raise his nose to Cathy’s ear. Cathy will
tell the children “Guess what Stormy just said?” and the
children excitedly ask “What!?” Cathy will say “Stormy says
he’s a gorilla!” The children laugh, and say “No, Stormy,
you’re a dog!” Stormy’s timing for “whispering” comments to
Cathy is spontaneous, but almost always at the perfect time.
If a child is self-conscious about reading aloud, Stormy
will sit and appear to intently listen to the child with his
kind brown eyes, showing no judgment if a word is
mispronounced, or a sentence stumbled over. When Stormy
arrives at the schools, Cathy hears excitement of the
children and their voices clamoring to say “hi” to Stormy as
he walks by.
As a therapy dog, Stormy demonstrates a calm demeanor and
apparent ability to recognize illness or weakness of those
he visits. This gentle giant will calmly maneuver himself as
close as he can to the person he is visiting so that they
can rest a hand on him if they wish, or just take comfort in
When not working as a therapy dog or visiting schools for
the READ Program, Stormy spends his time exploring the
property around his home and playing with Cathy’s three
other Golden Retrievers, Dreamer, Skylar, and London.
Whether he is at home or working, it just takes one look at
Stormy to see the love he holds in his heart that he is
always willing to give.
Let Me Meet Another Therapist