Gabriel’s Angels: The mission continues
Gabriel, a weimaraner, passed away more than two years ago, but the therapy dog organization named after him, Gabriel’s Angels, is going strong.
In the 12 years since it was formed, consisting only of Gabriel, the organization has grown to 160 human-animal teams, and the dogs have visited more than than 13,000 abused, neglected and at-risk children, according to a story worth reading in this week’s Arizona Republic.
Gabriel’s Angels got its start about a year after Pam Gaber got the weimaraner pup.
She was volunteering at Crisis Nursery in central Phoenix, and every Friday she’d share photos and tales about her dog with the children.
For a holiday party, she brought Gabriel along with her for the first time, and dressed him as a reindeer. She noticed more smiles, more laughs and a greater sense of calm among the children. Recognizing the benefits a dog could offer them, she searched for a therapy dog group specializing in working with at-risk children. Finding none, she created her own.
A neighbor heard about it, and Gabriel’s Angels soon had its second therapy dog — a golden retriever named Sugarbear. A few months after that, they were joined by Auska, a bouvier des Flandres. By 2002, Gabriel’s Angels had 25 teams in the field; a year later, that number had doubled.
Today it has a waiting list of agencies requesting weekly visits — more than can be accomplished on its budget.
Gabriel’s legacy lives on, both through the organization, and the book Gaber wrote in 2011, ”Gabriel’s Angels: The Story of The Dog Who Inspired a Revolution.”
Gabriel’s Angels works to teach children confidence, tolerance and respect. As the Arizona Republic story recounts, much of that could be seen during a visit one of Gabriel’s successors, Tucker, paid to Crisis Nursery, whose education manager Cindy English, pointed out:
“Even children who have withdrawn behind walls of their own making — perhaps necessary to survive — will start to emerge in the safety of a friendly, lovable animal … These kids have been hurt or lied to by adults. But around an animal, they show love and caring. For some it might be the very first meaningful connection they make.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, arizona, at risk children, children, crisis nursery, dog, dogs, gabriel, gabriel's angels, pam gaber, pets, phoenix, therapy, therapy dogs, weimaraner