City Times Staff
A Plover therapy dog has earned a top award from Therapy Dogs International.
Keesha, a 13-year-old female corgi/pug mix owned by Jean & Joe Diedrich of Plover, was awarded the TDI Gold rank — the highest rank awarded by organization, given to dogs who complete 500 therapy visits.
The dog had previously been awarded TDI’s ‘Tail Waggin Tutor’ award for completing her first 100 visits. Keesha now has the distinction of achieving 600 visits.
“We were searching for a companion dog for our aging dachshund,” said Jean Diedrich. “We found her online and saw she was at the Clark County Humane Society no-kill shelter. Clark County suggested obedience training, so we went through Camp Bandy.”
The Diedrichs adopted the dog in 2004; in 2007 Jean Diedrich and daughter Jeanna were certified as therapy dog handlers. The two began taking Keesha to local schools that same year.
Keesha’s main duty is as a ‘reader dog’; one that sits calmly next to a student as she is read to. She also serves as a source of comfort and safe interaction for cognitively disabled students.
“I’ve seen absolutely incredible response[s] from some of the students,” said Jean Diedrich. “Students that have severe communicative challenges see Keesha and immediately open up. I was told of one girls [we visited] never smiled; she saw Keesha for the first time and broke into a wonderful big smile.”
The dog visits students at Bannach and Jefferson elementary schools, along with St. Stephens, St. Stanislaus and St. Bronislava’s schools and Ben Franklin Jr. High.
“She’s done this so long that she’s become something of a celebrity,” Jean Diedrich said. “I’ll be running an errand with her and students who read to her years ago will come up to say hello and share how much she meant to them.”
Anyone interested in having their own dog trained as a therapy dog can contact Therapy Dogs International at 973-252-980 or online at www.tdi-dog.org.