Faces in the Crowd: Carol Bailey
Carol Bailey has always owned dogs, but it wasn’t until she saw her sister’s therapy dog work with children in the hospital that her love rose to a new level.
This love, combined with Carol’s background in mental health, inspired her to start a career in pet therapy.
The journey began with finding the right dog. Her neighbor suggested a standard poodle, Ange, who was being raised by a breeder. The 8-year-old poodle was supposed to be a service dog for a disabled child, but that opportunity fell through.
So, Carol adopted Ange and took her through the Pet Partners Program, the largest nonprofit organization registering therapy dogs and other pets.
The purpose of Pet Partners is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. Here’s how they work:
First, the dog must pass a health screening and an AKC Good Citizen test, emphasizing the importance of good manners. Then, handlers take an online course and test. Finally, a Pet Partners representative evaluates the handler/dog team on performance in various therapy scenarios
Ange passed with flying colors, and ever since, she’s been helping people in the community, including at juvenile detention and Black Hills Works – an organization that supports people with disabilities.
Carol offers Ange’s help for free. She says it’s the warmth of the smile on the client’s face and their improved outlook that makes the volunteering all worthwhile.
"It’s very rewarding because you can see the joy that she’s bringing, and you can see the changes in people," she said. "There are some people at Black Hills Works that are more on the autistic side, who you can see social changes in them. It’s very rewarding and it’s fun too. I love going there; so does Ange."
The animal-human bond is often unspoken; a simple touch can speak volumes.