GiGi the Therapy Dog
My name is GiGi Pipkin. I’m a therapy dog and I volunteer at the Autism Center with my handler Jacquie. Jacquie is not only my trainer but my people-mother and best friend. In fact, l almost always do what she tells me to do, except once in a while at home when my silliness gets the best of me. When I have my working jacket on and I go to the Autism Center I know that means business and I have to be serious and attentive. I like to think of my time at the Autism Center as serious fun, especially when my friend Lollie throws the ball to me in the Center’s fenced-in yard. That is THE best! It also helps Lollie strengthen her muscles and practice her throwing skills. Lollie doesn’t think throwing the ball is part of her occupational therapy, but it is. She has such a good time that we don’t tell her that she’s really working.
In order to become a registered therapy dog, I had to go to school. I went to Lifeline Canines for 5 hours a day for 3 days. On the last day, before I could graduate, I had to pass a final exam. My friend Zach, also a Standard poodle, and I were taken to a retirement home and hospital so that we could demonstrate what we had learned. We were a little nervous, but once we entered the facility we could tell that the people really liked us. They even stopped playing Bingo when we came into the game room. Everyone was laughing and smiling and wanted to pet us. They even tried to give us candy and ice cream, but we weren’t allowed to accept it. We passed our tests and got our diplomas.
While I have never met a stranger and am friendly to everyone, I particularly love children. I’m very gentle with them and never jump on them. The children are why I like going to the Autism Center. Jacquie and I work under the direction of the therapist. What she says goes. If you would like to meet me, just let the Autism Center know and we can arrange to be there for an introduction. I’m available for therapy and social skills sessions or just to visit. Afraid of dogs? I understand. Lollie was afraid at first; so we just sat across the room until she was ready to talk to me and little by little we got closer and closer and now we are friends and look forward to our weekly visits.