Noira – that’s French for ‘Blackie’ – joined Center for Change and Growth as our play therapy (canine) assistant in November 2016. Her dad is a golden retriever-standard poodle (golden-doodle) and her mom was a Labrador retriever-standard poodle (labra-doodle), so we refer to her as our “double doodle”. She is tall, althletic, about 60 lbs., soft, gentle, and loves to give kisses. Although she has a French name, we just call her ‘Nora’.
Noira began her training as a play therapy dog in April 2017, learning to follow directions, listen – even when really excited – and to be calm and patient in the office. In June 2018 she completed her training to become a Canine Good Citizen, and has received her diploma. You might ask, “Is Noira a therapy dog then?” Well, let’s say she is on her way, but she is still in training. So like her play therapy friends, she is learning to manage her excited feelings, too.
A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with anxiety disorders or autism. And our Noira does that in spades! But a play therapy dog is trained to play in safe and predictable ways, to help children in the Center to regulate themselves – that is, to be able to be their best self, to manage their emotions, and to be content.
Sometimes, when our play therapy friends are not comfortable around dogs or even afraid, Noira will wait patiently with Dr. Susan, sit and lay by her feet, and let those children regulate – calm their fears and anxiety – and over time, they become fast friends. She is an easy friend to make and easy to love.
Noira loves to run, to climb, to work the agility exercises (she’s a natural on the high beam!), play with her friends – human and neighbor dogs. The interesting part about Noira is that as fluffy as she is, she doesn’t shed fur and she is hypo-allergenic, so friends that are allergic to dogs usually aren’t bothered by her so much.
Noira is at the office almost every day and will be looking forward to meeting you. Come and throw her ball, give her high-five, and make friends.