Most dog owners spend time with their canine companions at dog parks, around the neighborhood or on the couch. Not Daniels Accounting Professor Hugh Grove.
In January 2016, Grove and his dog Bearje, a 5-year-old Bichon Frise mix, were certified as a therapy team. Since then they have volunteered more than 90 hours at three Denver assisted living communities and a Ronald McDonald house, and have applied to provide therapy services at a local hospital. This holiday season, however, they are taking on an entirely different challenge: comforting stressed holiday travelers at Denver International Airport.
The whole thing is organized by United Airlines and Pet Partners, a national organization that has certified 15,000 dog therapy teams in all 50 states and set up more than 3 million visits. On Dec. 22, Grove and Bearje will show up at the airport, pass through security and provide therapy to children, adults and seniors experiencing anxiety in crowded airports.
Grove first heard about Pet Partners from a local dog watcher who recommended Bearje for the organization because of his calm demeanor. The training took three months and involved courses at a PetSmart, online courses for Grove and a final exam that tested Bearje on everything he would see as a service dog, from loud noises to wheelchairs.
“For me, it was about contributing something to the community and giving back,” said Grove. “You try to make a positive impact in your community, and you hope that one day someone will do the same for you.”