BIRTH OF A THERAPY DOG
Aurora Red Horizon’s is the latest addition to the therapy dog program at Horizon Health Services. She was born through Golden Beauties of New York, Heart of Horizon in Alden, NY. Aurora’s grandmother, Horizon, is a veteran therapy dog at Horizon. Aurora is five weeks old in the picture above.
Chris Maloney Legacy Foundation’s Proud Connection & Sponsorship
The unique history we share with Horizon goes to the very heart and soul of our past, our present, and most importantly the future of the Chris Maloney Legacy Foundation. Our past: Chris Maloney was a patient at Horizon during his struggle with addiction, and he had many therapeutic encounters and lighter moments with Dakota (one of the legendary therapy dogs at Horizon). Our present: Colleen Babcock, Horizon Health’s Parent & Family Support Coordinator, is a lifelong, personal connection to Deb Armitage Maloney and her son Chris. Colleen’s daily interaction with families keeps our foundation informed and pointed correctly in efforts that can and will make a vital difference. Our future: strengthened in hindsight awareness; a deeper understanding of the compassion, structure, and vital attention this organization brings daily, we know that it is a beacon of hope, sharing the message of empowerment, and providing a simple voice of reason. It’s a place. It’s people. It’s a courageous support system which benefits all. Colleen Babcock is not only a dear friend and a support professional–she is the connection that brought us into being able to support this therapy dog program, and ultimately the reality of our Aurora.
Nurturing & Training of Aurora
The connection does not end with Colleen Babcock. There is a special family that has to be the home for Aurora. There are moments, especially in loss and trauma, where loved one’s see, hear or feel a special sign, but it’s even more powerful when the people around you see, hear and feel it as well. When Colleen Babcock was looking to place the puppies from the liter, she found Jenny Fritton, Horizon Counselor, was interested in being that home and has a connection to Deb Armitage Maloney! There could not have been a better selection and connection for Aurora and our foundation! About 10/12 years ago she was involved with Palace Theatre productions, and now it has come full circle.
Nurturing of Aurora
On October 17th Luna gave birth to 9 beautiful puppies, Aurora was the 3rd one born at 12:08am weighing just under one pound. Her first couple of weeks were spent nuzzled to her mom while she was getting the much-needed colostrum in the quiet of my room away from all the distractions of life. By the second week imprinting and desensitizing begin. Puppies are moved into the main living area and will spend the next 6 weeks around all the bustle of everyday life, other dogs, radios, television, vacuums, dishwasher, etc. All the noises and sounds you can imagine, familiarizing the puppies with the world they were born into. Families begin to visit often to introduce themselves to the puppies, weeks before they even know which ones is theirs. This gives the puppies interaction with various scents and new people. New owners bring a blanket from their home and the pups snuggle that for the next 4 weeks. When they are ready for their new homes, prior interactions lessen the stress for the puppy, they leave with their blanket, stuffed animal toy to snuggle (emulates their sibling) and a familiar scent from the visits they have received over the prior weeks. Puppies tend to transition easier if you can limit the stress and this process certainly helps. They are now ready to begin the next phase of their lives…
Training of Aurora
Training starts around 12 weeks. There is a series of trainings a Horizon Therapy Dog must complete before being tested for therapy work. This will determine when a dog is ready for work. Training starts with puppy socialization, this can take place daily, taking the pup out with you to pet stores, walks, dog parks or classes. You must be careful at this stage as a small puppy is at risk if not watched closely. From there you would go into beginner obedience 6-8 week class, intermediate obedience 6-8 week class, advanced obedience 6-8 week class, canine Good Citizen 6 week class and finally Therapy Dog Prep & Certification. After which completing Aurora will be a certified Therapy Dog. Of course, Aurora will have plenty of opportunity to mingle with the patients she will be helping as she continues her certification process.
The difference a therapy dog makes
There is no disputing the value of a therapy dog. The interaction between a human and a dog releases dopamine and serotonin, the “things” that make you feel good. The simple task of turning your lips in an upward motion to smile releases these chemicals.
Chris Maloney Legacy Foundation Funding
There is no question that without the support from our friends, partners, and community throughout these past few years (as a fledgling 501c3) that we would not have had the funding to accomplish this beautiful, lasting, and reciprocating tribute. The entire process and connection was something we will never forget, but more importantly, through Aurora, this important connection that will help so many in their struggle to overcome addiction.
Special thank you to Colleen Babcock and Christine Pearl of Horizon Health Services for lending their assistance in writing this piece.