Gretel The Therapy Dog


Rylee Turley

This school year, we have the pleasure of getting our new counselor, Deb Osborn. She came to our school after our old counselor had decided to leave and Deb had brought her therapy dog, Gretel, with her. Gretel is an 8 year old, black and white labradoodle that is hypoallergenic, which means she does not shed hair.


In October, 2011, Gretel had been picked from a litter for a service program named Hearts of Gold. She was only 10 weeks old when she was chosen and was placed into a foster home with another dog and they visited classes to visit and socialize with the other dogs in the Hearts of Gold program. Once Gretel was old enough, she got trained by the West Virginia University Students and received intensive service dog training but was released from the program due to greeting any and everyone that had walked into the room she would be in. Gretel also was released because she was too small to support the weight of an adult human, a necessity of being a service dog.


The service dog program at West Virginia University has existed for over eleven years. There are three classes at three different levels that are available to all of the WVU students. It is all apart of the Division of Animals and Nutritional Sciences and the Heart of Gold program is directed by the non-profit organization Human Animal Bond, Inc. The dogs are owned by HAB, Inc and the Division of Ag Sciences supports by providing spaces to teach the courses at the University farm. This particular program trains dogs to be physical assistance and when the dogs are placed, they will cost a minimum of $25,000. When the dogs complete the program, they are given to a new owner. A lot of the dogs that do not complete the course are released and they become therapy dogs. Size, health, temperament, intelligence, and disposition are all important considerations for therapy


After she was released from the program, Gretel was given to Deb and she continued to work with Gretel for another six plus years with providing mental health and therapy outreach to young adults at four different schools. LPO is the fourth school Gretel and Deb has been to. The first place they have been was Carruth Center at West Virginia University. The second school Deb and Gretel have been to is Monarch Therapeutic Boarding School. The school they were at before coming to Lake Pend Oreille Alternative High school was Boulder Creek Academy. Gretel has also earned the ATI or Alliance of Therapy Dogs and it was previously known as Therapy Dog Certification or TDI. Gretel has the ability to grab items for people such as tissue boxes, phones, and many other miscellaneous things. Everyone seems to enjoy Gretel’s presences and cannot get enough of her!


This is Gretel and Deb’s first year at LPO and we hope they decided to stay with us for the years to come!