Rottie therapy

About four years ago, I—along with my rottweiler—was involved in a severe car accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This mishap resulted in staggering medical bills for the both of us. Through generous programs such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Project Access, I was able to receive surgeries that would have otherwise been impossible to obtain. Additionally, my dog received four surgeries donated by a local veterinary specialist. Due to my leg injuries, it was apparent that I would no longer be able to work with animals, and volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitator was part of that work. I decided to give back to the medical community by training my other rottweiler as a therapy dog.

Recently, after a practice run visiting “pretend” patients, we went to a local restaurant for lunch—our routine for over seven months. On this occasion, I was approached by a very rude woman who asked me how I could possibly consider using a rottweiler for therapy, as they are very “nasty” animals. I was speechless as she verbally attacked both of us, especially since my dog only showed her minor interest and completey ignored the other canine present.

Perhaps this woman is unaware that numerous rottweilers work as service dogs. Carl, the beloved rottie featured in Alexandra Day’s children’s books, was used for a portrait honoring an important therapy dog in a San Diego hospital. The author was so impressed by his work that she then trained and certified two of her own rottweilers for physical, occupational and speech therapy. The author states in one of her books that “because Carl is already known to many children, he is especially useful for work with them.”

I took the rude woman’s inappropriate comments personally, as I am extremely attached to animals. I have donated many hours and dollars to injured, abused, orphaned and abandoned domestic pets and wild animals. I have now chosen to give back through animal therapy, using the unconditional love from a dog to hopefully bring some happiness to those who appreciate animal companionship. In a few months, this dog’s behavior will be tested by professionals and hopefully she will become certified. It takes quite a bit of time and training to get to that point. Maybe that woman should acquire [a dog from] her idea of a suitable breed and donate her time to this worthy cause, instead of insulting someone already doing so.

— Kim Sabel
Weaverville

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6 thoughts on “Rottie therapy

  1. Cheshire

    I’ve had comments spanning the whole range of rude and stupid. “What a cute puppy! So when’s she going to turn on you?” (Directed at my rottie when she was 12 weeks old.) “That’s not a dog, that’s a Rottweiler.” (A comment I overheard approaching the French Broad dog park.) My rottie’s never shown an ounce of aggression, but because of her breed she gets the guilty-until-proven-innocent treatment. Kinda makes it hard to socialize the dog properly (a vital part of temperment and training) when everyone gives her the cold shoulder.

    As soon as people recognize what breed the dog is, they assume the dog is going to eat them up like Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a dog! Would you respond the same way to a golden retriever? If you answered “no”…why not? They’re both dogs.

  2. areaArtist

    Most people become scared of one breed or the next because of personal reasons. I am one of those people that believes most dogs are friendly regardless of their breed. Most of them do not attack unless provoked by someone or they’ve been trained to do so for protection. Honeslty, I have always been snipped at and barked at by small dogs..not larger breeds.

  3. Carrie

    I have a pit-mix dog. (One of two) He gets the same reaction many times even though he is scared of his own shadow and only wants to lick you to death. It is a shame that people do not realize that dogs react to people reacting to them. He is sweet and loving but many will not give him a chance because of his breed.

    Also, I know many Rotties and they are some of the most wonderful dogs!

  4. Dionysis

    I hope Kim Sabel will not allow the thoughtless and ignorant comments of a few deter her from continuing her commendable work.

    Had it been me on the receiving end of such boorish commentary, I would probably have shook my head and expressed sadness over such a public display of stupidity and insensitivity.

    The world is full of such characters; one cannot allow them to divert you from doing what you feel is right. Best of luck to you in your continuing efforts.

  5. cwaster

    It all depends on the owner. Good owner = good dog, for the most part. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad dog owners in this town, and often they let their dogs run loose.

    By the way I have a pal with a very sweet Pit Bull who’s a nice dog.

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