Linda and Sparky first registered as a Pet Partners team in 2014. Sparky retired in autumn 2022.
In 2012, my husband and I sold our ranch in north Texas, preparing our move to Sun City, Georgetown, Texas. We had working cattle dogs not suited to city life; we re-homed them and started looking for a small dog to adopt and live with us in the city.
We found Sparky, who was the first dog we looked at, and adopted him quickly. He was a rescue dog from the Tarrant County Humane Society in Fort Worth, Texas. He had been there for two months and was three days from being euthanized. He was such a calm, smart dog, approximately 2-1/2 years old, and we thought he would be a perfect therapy dog.
Ruth Olsen, a dog trainer in Sun City and a Pet Partners team evaluator and volunteer leader, became the trainer for me and Sparky, helping to prepare us for becoming a therapy animal team.
In March of 2014, we graduated from the training, and we passed our Pet Partners team evaluation with a complex team rating, allowing us as a team a wide selection of places to volunteer. Thus our journey began.
Over the last 8-1/2 years, we have volunteered locally at St. David’s Hospital Georgetown, as well as many assisted living/nursing homes, the Georgetown school district with Read With Me™, and a local behavioral hospital that treats people with substance use disorders and mental health issues, as well as military veterans with PTSD. In addition to local volunteering in Georgetown, we also volunteered in the summers at our home in Colorado, at the Rio Grande Hospital and the local home for retired military veterans.
We have had many wonderful and rewarding years of volunteering as a team, but Sparky was ready to retire at the age of 13-plus years.
—submitted by handler Linda Anderson