Todd Cerveris and Butley

As the two-year-old foster dog of a friend moving between apartments, Butley was supposed to be a weekend guest. He stayed another 13 years. The name just sort of happened, but it was never questioned.

As actors, my wife and I travel a great deal. Butley was a constant companion, logging around 75,000 miles together. He and I trained for therapy work on the road, got registered on the road, and we worked together on the road in volunteer programs all over the country. As an unofficial member of the company in several regional theater productions and national tours, Butley had his own corner of the dressing room, his own name on the sign-in sheet, and his own duties to help improve the work environment for everyone with his patient attention and affection.

Butley comforting Angela Reed, Todd's wife

When we were back home in New York City, our work continued in local schools, surgical recovery units, after-school programs, and other assignments. We had a special leash, a special vest, a special bandanna, and a special hand signal. “Wanna go to work?” I’d ask him—and he always jumped up, ready to go. He always loved the chance to bring smiles to new friends and his hugs were much sought after by clients everywhere. I don’t know who got the better end of the deal—our clients, Butley, or me. Every interaction left all parties the richer for it.

Todd Cerveris and Butley with their volunteer ID

Butley was a wonderful example of the warm spirit and enthusiasm his breed has to offer. He’s remembered by a wide range of people all over the country whose lives he touched, and we’ll never forget the impact he made on our own.

Story submitted by handler Todd Cerveris