Therapy dogs don caps and gowns to receive diplomas at graduation

GULFPORT, Miss. – Pomp and Circumstance isn’t just for people that graduate, doggy graduates deserve recognition too!  On Saturday, canine students received diplomas at the 11th Annual Pet Partner’s Therapy Dog Graduation Ceremony in Gulfport, Miss.

Therapy dog graduates

Handlers shared some of their success stories during the ceremonies, while nearly a dozen dogs donned caps and gowns to receive their certifications to enter nursing homes, libraries and hospitals.

“That dog, in that moment, was what it took to bring the man back into reality.”

“And when she left, she said God sent us to her because we were her angels.”

Carla Anderson, a Therapy Dog handler said, “That puppy licked on her face and that girl smiled and laughed and giggled and was thrilled.”

“Bless you and all your service that you do, my friend.”

The dogs were all sizes, from tiny Dashund to a giant Newfoundland, but it’s not the breed that makes the dog special.

“People love the dogs.”  Carla Anderson says it takes a calm, patient and friendly personality to make a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs graduate

“Therapy dogs are born, they’re not made. Not every dog has the personality to be a therapy dog.” And that’s where they shine.  In a busy room full of other dogs. “Basically it’s in the dog. It’s the dogs nature.”

Mary Pecoul and her two Shih Tzus have logged more than five thousand volunteer hours, earning them the presidential service medal. But even with these hard working volunteers, Anderson says they could still use more help.

“We need more. We could visit everyday at every facility and that probably still wouldn’t be enough.”