New Mexico service dog, Betty to receive the second annual John Henry Award for Outstanding Service
Service Dog, Betty a Golden Retriever trained by Assistance Dogs of the West will receive the John Henry Award from The New Mexico Behavioral Health Planning Council and Local Collaboratives on February 8, 2012 at the Marriott Courtyard in Santa Fe, NM. Festivities begin at 5:00 pm, awards begin at 6:30 pm. The dinner and speakers conclude at 9:00 pm.
Betty is being honored for her work at the Palmer Drug Abuse Program in Hobbs, New Mexico where she assists in individual and group counseling sessions. During group meetings Betty checks on each person often staying with the one who has the most anxiety. During play time with children, her sense of knowing keeps her by the side of a child that falls or the one that stands away from the others. In the playroom where play and art therapy techniques are used in counseling children, Betty allows children to dress her up, Betty role plays with the children. One child dressed her up with a scarf on, said she was her grandmother and pretended to take her to the doctor. Betty patiently let the little girl check her pulse and look in her ears. “We teach the children Betty’s service dog commands and the children re-enforce those commands as modeled by the Assistance Dogs of the West education programs. This is a huge self-esteem booster for them to help with training,” according to Sara Sroufe.
Betty helps people share their emotions. As one woman was crying and petting Betty she said, “I have never been this open in my life.”
Betty goes to the schools weekly with her handler, Sara Sroufe to counsel or mentor students. There she makes each child feel special by "singing" to them. The prevention puppet show taken into the schools this year was modeled after Betty, "Be Too Doggone Smart to Do Drugs!”
Handler and counselor, Sara Sroufe proclaims, “After being a counselor for thirty years I had no idea the difference having a dog in my practice would make, wish I would have done this a long time ago!”