CRESTVIEW — Dozer the therapy dog has been a popular animal for over eight years, but soon he will call it quits.
Dozer, who started out as Angie Nousiainen’s pet, will walk into retirement after one last visit to the HOPE House next week.
“I didn’t know what a therapy dog was at first,” Nousiainen said. “We took obedience classes and one of the assignments was simple commands in public places. Crowds would form and he would have center stage wherever he went.”
Nousiainen said during one of their public practices, they met a little girl with whom Dozer had an instant connection. The girl’s mother told Nousiainen that Dozer had done more for her little girl in that moment than a therapist did and gave Nousiainen the idea to make Dozer a therapy dog.
“I went home and looked up what it was,” she said. “With Dozer’s natural love for people and his calm nature, I thought it would be great.”
Dozer’s first appearance as a therapy dog was a visit to Shoal Creek Rehabilitation Center. According to Nousiainen, Dozer has logged over 250 hours at the center.
“He walks through the place like he owns it,” Nousiainen said.
But Shoal Creek is not the only place Dozer has visited during his time as a therapy dog. He has also spent time at Northwood Elementary School, Walgreens, the Ronald McDonald House and many other places.
Nousiainen said Dozer is a good therapy dog because he helps bring calmness and happiness to people he meets.
“He makes each person feel special,” Nousiainen said. “He’s all about other people and he has a good ability to judge them and what they need.”
There have been many memories made for Dozer and his owner over the years, but there is one that stands out for Nousiainen.
“There was a gentleman who came to meet Dozer at Walgreens. He saw an article about where to meet Dozer so he came,” she said. “Dozer would come to visit this man’s mother and he wanted to meet the dog who could be there when he couldn’t. He wanted to know about her last days and the visits with Dozer. It meant a lot not only to his mother, but to him as well.”
Dozer’s final appearance will be August 3rd at the Crestview library, where he will be treated to a retirement party to say farewell to the public one last time before he goes off to “hold down the couch.” Once Dozer is officially retired, his nephew Davis will begin his journey as a therapy dog.