Disabled Rescue Canine Helping Others as a Therapy Dog

Ichabod is getting a new lease on life after a tumultuous start. The malamute has just been granted certification from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), which is an organization that provides "testing, certification, registration, support, and insurance for members who volunteer with their dogs in animal-assisted activities."

Ichabod receives his certification

A resident of White Lake, Michigan, Ichabod begun comforting students from the Oxford High School Shooting and worked with the Friendship Circle Organization, who help children with special needs. Prior to his life as a Therapy Dog, Ichabod was rescued from a meat truck headed to a slaughterhouse by No Dogs Left Behind.

Once rescued, it was discovered that he suffered from luxated patella's, which cause a dog's kneecaps to move from their regular positions and limits their mobility. 

Despite all of his struggles, Ichabod was adopted by Gayle Ellias, who saw his profile on the No Dogs Left Behind website. "There was just something about him that drew me in," Gayle described. Following his arrival, Gayle noticed what an amazing dog he was, saying she instantly knew "He's going to be the best Therapy Dog. I saw Ichabod's temperament as he's so solid and unwavering. He loves meeting everybody. He's calm, and he is so non-reactive."

Ichabod and his owner

She had never cared for a Therapy Dog before, but signed up herself and Ichabod to be certified by ATD. "ATD has a unique testing process. It starts with a background check for the handler and then involves a handling test for the dog and handler. After the handling test is passed, the applicants go on three observed visits with one of our Tester/Observers (T/O's). Our testing is designed to make sure you and your dog have a good relationship with each other and that your dog has the right temperament and manners to do therapy dog work," ATD explains.

Ichabod passed on his first try and has been working to help children ever since. "Kids move quickly, they may jump up and down or make noises, and he doesn't react to any of that. And I think that feels safe for kids," Ellias said. "And they will then acclimate to petting him and getting close. For some kids, it's a win if they just get closer to him." 

Ichabod as a therapy dog

His story helps to show the perseverance and resilience that one can have even after experiencing immense trauma. "Dogs can witness and experience the unimaginable and still give back to the human race. Dogs have unconditional love, and they're survivors, and they share," Gayle details. 

"Certainly, the miracle of Ichabod being saved and being brought into a loving family was a great story in itself, but what really stood out is how Ichabod and his new family are paying it forward and helping others. It's awesome he is such a loving soul after all he's been through. Ichabod being a special needs dog himself, allows him to connect on a deeper level with those who are a part of The Friendship Circle," ATD continued. 

Ichabod and a child

Ichabod's impact will grow even larger when his new children's book is released. "It will be called Ichabod, Where is The Glory?" Ellias said. "It's going to address animal mistreatment, animal rescue, disability, adoption, and animal welfare loss."

You can continue to see the wonderful life and story of Ichabod on his Instagram

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