Spencer was a four-month-old stray when Julia found him, but he was so sweet and gentle that Julia thought that he would make a great therapy dog! After training for about a year, they became a therapy team, and joined Gabriel’s Angels the following year. Julia and Spencer have been visiting Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse for five years. From the beginning, Spencer has loved going to the facility, often running from the front door to the kids’ meeting room. With the onset of Covid, the meetings moved online, and Spencer and Julia enjoy that as well, but miss being with the kids in person. Whether online or in-person, before meeting times, Julia works with Emerge staff to match the theme of the evening, using a book from her own collection or from the library. Afterwards the book is discussed and what it means and how it relates to the theme, and then the kids have a chance to play a game or complete a themed activity with Spencer.
One of their favorite in-person visits was about the theme of curiosity and confidence. They read and discussed “Dear Mrs. Larue” and, with Julia’s help, the kids were able to lead Spencer on a “Sniff and Seek” to find treats. Another favorite time was when they had just one child during their visit. This six-year-old was new to Emerge and very afraid of dogs. Julia and Spencer kept their distance and let him approach Spencer when he was ready. By the end of the evening, Spencer was tucked up next to him enjoying hugs and scratches around the ears. For Julia, the most meaningful thing about working with the children at Emerge is the level of support and happiness Spencer brings. A big thank you to Julia and Spencer for their commitment and dedication in bringing joy and love to the children at Emerge!