For the past two years, Lifeworks Brooklyn Park has been a regular stop for volunteer, Constance Bleecker, and her therapy dog, Zeus.
When Constance retired, she wanted to explore dog therapy as way for her to give back to the community, build connections, and remain active. At nine months old, her Miniature Australian Shepard, Zeus, became certified through the Canine Good Citizen Program developed by American Kennel Club (which includes a ten-step test) and completed therapy training.
Zeus is now nine years old – and though he has a modest demeanor, his background is quite impressive. Along with his good-manners and friendly nature, Zeus is an international and national champion through the International All Breed Canine Association. He holds several titles for obedience, therapy, and trick dog.
When you first meet Constance and Zeus it’s clear that they mean a lot to each other. Constance reflects, “I couldn’t ask for a nicer boy. He’s so forgiving. He’s so accepting. He relies on me. We’re a team. It’s not all cut and dry. You have to be able to handle different situations.”
Constance is a member of Therapy Dog International, which requires additional on-going evaluation and specialized training for dogs volunteering in care environments such as hospitals. She is also part of the organization’s district club that has monthly trainings.
Constance found out about Lifeworks from her close friend, Lori Noland – a Service Facilitator for the organization. Lori suggested that Constance and Zeus visit Lifeworks – and after the first day, the pair knew it was a good fit for them.
She notes, “When we first started, Zeus was a little nervous, but he settled right in. He’s used to coming here. We have developed some really good friendships.”
This volunteer opportunity with Lifeworks has now become part of the team’s weekly routine. Constance and Zeus visit with participants at Lifeworks Brooklyn Park for thirty minutes to an hour on Tuesdays or Thursdays in the morning, depending on daily schedules.
“It’s just been a really fun experience. There are several people at Lifeworks that just love Zeus. Some of the people tell me about their dogs. We have relationships here now that I want to continue and build—and you know, I don’t know if the people realize how much they give me and how much these visits have become part of my life. ”
Volunteering with Lifeworks has also given Constance and Zeus insight into the organization: “I’m honestly amazed at all the different offerings and activities. The goals that people can make for themselves and what they can achieve here with the dedicated staff – it’s really incredible.”
Are you looking for ways to give back to your community?
Lifeworks offers a variety of options to support the people we serve. Whether you are interested in a volunteer opportunity or setting up a recurring donation – we can help connect you with a meaningful way to become involved with us.