Denis and Sandy Brown Therapy Dog Volunteers
On Saturday mornings at Kids’ Cove, just before the start of activities at nine, Denis and Sandy Brown can be seen volunteering their time to Rainbows as therapy dog volunteers with their beautiful golden retriever, Honey. They usually bring Honey around to each of the Rainbows' youth to give everyone a chance to pet first before playing catch with the kids and Honey. Denis says he usually brings a tennis ball, which he’ll give to the kids- they are eager to play with Honey. Denis tells a story of Jessica, who at first was very fearful of Honey, going into the opposite direction of the room each time they came. But over time, Jessica became used to Honey and got over these fears. Now, Denis says, “Jessica will pet the dog, ask to throw the tennis ball herself, or ask someone to do it for her! She screams with joy when she sees Honey.” Denis tells this story fondly, it is these moments that he and his wife volunteer for, moments of childhood joy, which in turn, give them joy. It seems like a win-win situation, judging from what Denis says, “I don’t know who gets more enjoyment them or us- I think we do! It’s just something that touches my heart."
Our Dynamic Trio of Volunteers
Denis and Sandy Brown had owned a golden retriever for 20 years before Honey. When their dog died, they waited another four years before adopting another golden retriever. They read that golden retrievers do well in therapy dog programs, and so they wanted to try it out. Honey was put into Wagon Tails’ Puppy Kindergarten Class, and trained by qualified instructor through Wagon Tails and then certified by Therapy Dog International. On its website, Therapy Dog International is described as “a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed”. For Denis and Sandy, they were very helpful in providing rules and guidelines on how to provide therapy dog services, in addition to providing insurance to Denis as a dog handler.
Denis says that he wanted to share Honey with kids with special needs, having had volunteered for the special needs population before, he didn’t want to stop. Denis is certainly no stranger to caring for the special needs population; he’s been involved with volunteering for the Special Olympics since 1980. Denis first started out volunteering at Track and Field, then his friend asked him to be an Assistant Basketball Coach, and from there, the rest is history. For Denis, he feels that “the kids are so genuine and loving,” it’s enough for him and his wife to want to keep giving back. Outside of their time volunteering, the Browns and Honey relax at home, where Denis will let Honey swim in their nearby pond- until he sees that Honey might be overexerting herself too much and brings her back in. With this much fun-loving and care, Honey and The Browns make for such great volunteers, thank you Denis and Sandy Brown for volunteering with Rainbow