“I am the Equine Activities and Therapy Manager at the Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center in Haymarket, Virginia and Anakin, my seven-year-old golden retriever, is the Resident Therapy Dog and Mascot. Anakin’s main job is to provide support to children and adults with physical, social and emotional needs. Anakin helps out by being available for hugging, petting and just all-around loving. Anakin’s calm and affectionate demeanor is very welcoming. This same even, unflappable temperament helps to decrease stress and anxiety in the participants who come to ride at the Center. It’s remarkable to see the calm-healing effect Anakin can provide to the students, and the ability to replace the negative feelings they may have with positive warm fuzzy ones instead.
In addition to Anakin’s day job at the Center, Anakin also visits nursing homes and elderly care facilities. Twice a month we visit recovering service members from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as well.
Anakin hails from New York. His father was in the breeding program for a guide-dog foundation. Originally, I planned to train Anakin as a Search and Rescue Dog. However, at that time, I was managing a farm and working with sport horses and the demands of my job made it impossible for me to pursue this line of work with Anakin. It was just as well, since Anakin was a natural for therapy work. He had all of the necessary attributes at a very young age and gravitated toward people more so than other dogs.
This has worked out for the best since now I have the ability to bring my dog to work to do something we both love. It’s great to have Anakin with me 24-7, as both a co-worker and side kick!
I’ve said it before that if I could bottle his goodness, I’m sure it would create world peace.”