Jordyn, an endearing 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, is the latest “staff member” at the Child and Family Center this fall.
The therapy dog’s “job” is to walk around the center on breaks, licking the children and interacting with them enough to bring a smile to their faces.
“Everybody loves her,” said her owner Kimberly Hirano. “We were a package deal, and the center staff were gracious enough to allow her to also provide services.”
Hirano is the division director of access and specialty programs at the center. When she was hired in October, she asked if Jordyn could also come.
Jordyn is a former guide dog who dropped out of guide dog school due to allergies, but instead became a trained therapy dog five years ago.
Her certification process entailed testing her temperament and patience with people. Now she is popular with children because she can tolerate having her tail and ears pulled, but is also a great morale booster for the staff, said Cheryl Jones, the center’s vice president of marketing and community outreach.
“She’s been doing this for a while, so she expects to be noticed,” Hirano said, as Jordyn walked up to children and parents around the center, prompting them to pet her with her paw. “Her job there is to be loved. If you walk by her and ignore her, she’ll be like, ‘Hey, give me attention,’ which the kids are always happy to do.”
“This is new to us, but we’re enjoying it,” Jones said. The center has not previously had a therapy pet in-house, but the experience for clients and staff has been great, she said.