Our Border Collie, Valentino, is a therapy dog. He’s also the best cattle herding dog I have ever seen. We call him Val for short. If he’s awake, he’s “on.” Sometimes, with a big smile on our faces, we call him Valium. Watch Val and Jeanne move our herd of cattle in this video produced by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
Val Is a Certified Therapy Dog
Several years ago, Val and Jeanne (Val’s handler) were certified by Therapy Dogs International. They went through six weeks of training and passed the tests with flying colors. Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in need. Jeanne regularly takes Val to Western State Hospital in Staunton where patients enjoy his company.
Tragedy at Bridgewater College
Bridgewater College is a small, private liberal arts college in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Tragedy struck on February 1, when former student Andrew Campbell shot and killed J. J. Jefferson, a campus safety officer, and John Painter, a campus police officer.
Therapy Dogs International Sends Notice to Handlers
Jeanne received an email from TDI asking her to contact mental health workers at Bridgewater College to arrange for Val to provide therapy services. Jeanne and Val arrived on campus on Thursday, February 3.
It was a cold and rainy day when Jeanne took Val to the learning center at Bridgewater.
Several students were seated on a couple of couches. Val went right to them and sat down beside a young lady in a chair. He looked up at her and she immediately started petting him.
One by one, students came in; some didn’t say anything at all. They sat down and Val went to them. For one student, Val laid down with his paws in the air allowing the student to pet him.
It was hard to keep from crying.
Gun Violence in America
Tragically, school shootings occur all too often in this country, 100 since 2018 in which at least one person was killed or injured, according to Education Week. Each occurrence reignites the debate between gun rights advocates and school safety advocates. But nothing much happens except grief and sorrow.
On the internet, you can find and use any statistic or soundbite you want to support either side of an issue. “Widespread gun ownership reduces crime,” spouts the website ammo.com. On the other side, “Mass shootings are an everyday occurrence in the United States,” writes thetrace.org.
In my heart, however, I know that gun violence is an epidemic causing trauma and heartbreak somewhere in America every single day. Schools should be a safe place where students learn without fear, not an arena for violence and trauma. Ninety-five percent of public schools in America conduct “active shooter drills,” according to the National Education Association. It makes me angry that we as a nation cannot do something to stop the violence.
Gun Violence Must Stop
Americans seem to agree on several things that will reduce gun violence. Background checks on all gun purchases and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals are good steps forward. Visit the Prevention Institute’s website to learn more about reducing gun violence.
Funeral Held on February 9
The funeral for the beloved fallen officers was held at James Madison University. Over 3,000 people attended. The John Painter and Vasher “J. J.” Jefferson Memorial Student Support Fund was established to honor their memory and sacrifice. Please contribute.
Therapy Dogs to the Rescue
Val and Jeanne and all therapy dogs will continue to provide therapy services where needed. Our sincere hope is that we can prevent more school shootings and that the epidemic of gun violence in America will subside.