A Dinner with Dog Lovers

Recently I had dinner with a few people who have been part of the People Animal Connection for years. To say we are all dog lovers is an understatement. I’d go so far as to say that we all enjoy O.D.D., obsessive dog disorder, a condition that I wrote about in my post, OMG I have O.D.D. (3/08/16). We reminisced, shared dog stories and photos. Not one of us shared a photo of a human…family member or otherwise. I didn’t even bring up the grandchildren

ELBEE I’m sure she mentioned me. My ears were burning. I wonder why I wasn’t invited.

As I looked at everyone around the table, it was breathtaking to think about what their dogs had accomplished and how Charley had interacted with each of them. They had worked so many events together. Roger’s Golden Retriever Logan was even the neutral dog at Charley’s last testing. A few of the dogs are gone now, but their legacy is timeless.

We were at the restaurant to visit with Jack Barron, who was in town from Oregon. Jack was a mentor to each of us. If I’m a 10 on the O.D.D. scale, Jack is off the chart.  He lives and breathes dog therapy which is what makes him such an incredible guiding force. I owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing me into that world.

I first met Jack over twelve years ago when I attended the Pet Partners workshop that would change my life. At the end of that day, I knew that dog therapy was what I wanted to do and that Charley was the right dog. From testing, through the learning and certification process and finally to working in the hospital, Jack was there every step of the way. Thanks to his teaching, his support and his cheerleading, Charley and I became a successful team.

Jack and Charley, one of his star pupils!

As for Elbee, if not for Jack, he might not have become a working dog. I had a severe virus when Elbee was a puppy and was out of commission for months, including his crucial socialization period. As a result, hard as it is to believe, Elbee became shy around people. If not for Jack’s constant encouragement, I might have given up. His trust in me as a handler kept me going.

ELBEE Imagine, I might never have become the fabulous diva that I am today. That would have been a loss for the world.

Jack also brought Gus into my life.  A few years ago, he contacted me to see if I’d be interested in a Teddy Bear Doodle that someone had to give up. Gina Grossman, an amazing trainer, had helped to select the dog and could vouch for his remarkable temperament. The rest is history.

To this day, I can sometimes hear Jack’s voice in my head as the Doods and I are working. I will never forget what he said as Charley was about to do his first bed visit with a woman waiting for a heart transplant. I nervously asked Jack, “You want Charley to jump on her bed?” He looked at me and calmly replied, “Ellen, our dogs don’t jump. They step.”








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Ellen Morrow

In her former life, Ellen Morrow was a carpool mom and award winning bodybuilder. Today she is a nationally certified therapy dog handler who volunteers at UCLA Medical Center and Providence Hospital with her GoldenDoodles. She's also the mother of three grown daughters who all think she's a little crazy or in the words of a friend, "a little unconventional." She is also an avid hiker who has survived a rattlesnake bite!

4 thoughts on “A Dinner with Dog Lovers”

  1. It was wonderful to be part of that fun dinner. Great seeing Jack and all my fellow PAC members. I miss you all. Never knew there was an actual condition for what we all have but glad to know I’m not alone with my ODD. Oh gosh. Look what it spells !! Keep up your wonderful writing. Love hearing about the Doods and all your adventures. Also the pictures are great!!

  2. So very cool! I vollunteered with my rescue dog Lucy at UCLA for YEARS…..such a wonderful program. She is a lot older now, but still with us here, lying on my feet while I type this into my computer. So many stories. Bringing a dog into the ICU was amazing. The patients would often say – look there is a dog in here! wow! Bring her over – I want to pet her. The dogs clearly gave the patients something else to think about other than that they were sick or injured and in the hospital. Loved this program! Often when we came into the hospital, I would see groups of people (families) gathered together clearly because something had happened to a family member. Lucy and I would walk over and ask it they would like a visit with Lucy. They ALWAYS said yes, got on the floor with her, grabbed her and cried. Lucy got it – she would move in and snuggle with the family. These dogs are so intuitive….they just “get it”. Amazingly wonderful. Ok and one more story. ….. on one visit, in the ICU , we had a child (about 7) who had been in a car accident. She was on our list for a visit. She had been in a coma for at least a week. The drs thought she was close to coming out and waking up, but they just couldnt get her to wake up. So I put lucy up on the bed, and held the girls hand over Lucy. We guided her to pet Lucy but nothing happened. So we did it again and again and no response……so I finally said that I needed to visit other patients and started out the door. As I was leaving, the nurse ran out and said COME BACK! Apparently, as soon as we left her room, the girl said “where did the dog go?” Everyone teared up – including the Dr. The dogs just “get it” So fabulous. And Im so glad to have been part of the PAC program!

    I now live in the Tehachapi area – north of LA and we have a new Adventist hospital being built. Im already talking to them about starting a program……

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