The first inductee in the therapy category is Mae, a 10 year
old Beagle. Mae is owned by Valerie Spadaccini of Hinesburg and
was nominated by VVMA member veterinarian Dr. Gary Solow.
For many years, Mae competed in the sport of agility, where she would run the obstacle courses with great enthusiasm, which brought cheers from the many spectators. Age has a way of catching all of us, however, and with age, Mae developed some spinal and heart problems. Finding that she could no longer participate in agility and seeming to miss being around people, Valerie began her search for another activity that Mae could do. Soon Mae was taking her test to become a Therapy Dog. For 2 years now, Mae has been donning her Canine Good Citizen bandanna and heading to the Hinesburg Community School where she listens as the children read to her.
Chris was Mae’s first charge. Chris needed help with his reading and spelling, but found school a struggle. Each week when Mae arrived at school, Chris would meet her at the classroom door, take her leash and proceed to the library. On the way, Chris would tell Mae everything that was new in class. Soon they were settled in a corner, Chris reading and Mae receiving gentle pats and stroking. This was a special time for Chris. He was being listened to, praised and loved without judgment. Mae was always patient, quiet and devoted. At the end of the session, after many hugs and treats, Chris would proceed to his other classes, more confident and ready to learn.
Mae is just starting to work with another child named Tracie. Although they have had only a few visits together, already a very special bond is forming.
The VVMA is happy to induct Mae into the Vermont Animal Hall of Fame in the Therapy category.