Every dog has his day and Beau, the much-loved facility dog at The Barry Robinson Center (BRC), is celebrating this week. He achieved a significant milestone in his career, after passing his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International tests over the weekend. He and handler Allyson Hagan, MS, CTRS, will be an official registered therapy dog team.
As BRC’s facility dog, Beau will continue to see residents individually and in groups. He’s also popular with the staff, and his smiling doggy face is a welcome sight in offices. He comes to work daily with Hagan, BRC’s director of activities. On a typical day, they make rounds to say good morning, attend meetings and go to individual/family therapy sessions as requested.
“Beau is the best support for residents,” Hagan said. “He has an incredible knack for being an assist in mindfulness activities when a resident shows signs of anxiety. He provides an opportunity for residents to expel anxious energy in sessions through belly rubs and ear scratches while having more serious conversations.
“Beau’s also a key player in providing comic relief after serious conversations. We can always count on him for a goofy face or noise after a session that helps lighten the mood,” Hagan continued. “He’s also very willing to engage in mirroring feelings of happiness through his own big smile and happy demeanor.”
Beau is a purebred Golden Retriever, born in October 2019. His first day on campus was January 30, 2020. Just as the young pup was getting used to the sights, sounds, people and daily routine, the pandemic hit. Fortunately, BRC was able to receive help from a very special trainer to continue working with Beau.
“Allie Gahagan, the owner of Anchor Assistance Dogs, LLC, has been a godsend and so helpful since day one when we were exploring getting a dog,” said Hagan. “She hand-chose Beau from his litter and ended up doing most of his obedience training as a puppy due to Covid. She’s worked hard with us as an agency and as a trainer to make sure Beau is meeting program goals and milestones.”
Besides working with Beau as part of BRC’s Animal Assisted Intervention program, Hagan oversees all daily Recreational Therapy programming and an Equine-Assisted Learning Program. Beau often joins her when BRC’s horses visit campus each week. Beau and his horse buddies Matty, Mister and Maverick have their own Instagram account, @BRCTherapyAnimals, where people can follow their adventures.
“Beau is the best boy, especially at work. He’s always bouncing around campus with his tail perky and his head up. I feel incredibly lucky to be given the honor of being ‘Beau’s Person’ because he is so fun to be around,” Hagan said. “I’m so proud of all of his hard work over the last year and a half. And we wouldn’t be here without help from my BRC teammates.”