Diane & Ella: Exceptional Effects

Diane Alexander and her standard poodle Ella first became a Pet Partners team in 2011. Ella retired at the end of March 2022, and Diane shared this tribute to her partner’s exceptional effects.

A smiling therapy dog handler with her arm around her white standard poodle therapy dog smiles at the camera.After 11 years, thousands of hours, and thousands of people served in southern Arizona, it’s time for Ella to retire. Although a very healthy 15, she is showing signs of age.

Our journey together has included visits at many types of facilities: pediatrics in our community hospital; a specialty dementia unit; the Boys and Girls Club; a group home for kids with behavioral issues; a special facility for people in drug, alcohol, and mental health crisis; and inmates in a federal facility.

A white standard poodle therapy dog wearing a Pet Partners vest poses in front of a sign inviting people to pet therapy animals.

The impact that Ella has had was brought home to me clearly when one of the inmates we visited said, as he was petting her, “I haven’t petted a dog in 23 years.” I later learned that he had been very withdrawn, but every time Ella and the other dogs came to visit, he always asked to be included.

What these animals can do is truly magic.

A white standard poodle therapy dog wearing a Pet Partners vest sits, posing for a photo.