Three national canine organizations recognize Bar Harbor dog

Posted Sept. 12, 2011, at 5:08 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 13, 2011, at 8:30 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A local Great Pyrenees dog has been recognized by three national organizations for her therapy work and her role in a children’s reading program.

The 6-year-old dog named Cirra, Glimmer’s Spirit of Acadia, owned by Robyn Douglas and Denise Houseknecht of Bar Harbor, has received titles from the Great Pyrenees Club of America, Therapy Dogs International and the American Kennel Club.

The Animal Assisted Therapy and Activity title is awarded by the Great Pyrenees Club of America to dogs and handlers who are registered with a national therapy dog organization and have performed at least 200 volunteer therapy hours. Therapy Dogs International awards the Tail Waggin’ Tutors Achievement Award to dog and handler teams with 100 reading program visits. The AKC awards the Therapy Dog title to registered AKC dogs that are certified by an AKC-recognized therapy dog organization and perform a minimum of 50 visits.

Cirra has visitied patients at local hospitals, helping to calm some who missed their own pets and inspiring others to get out of bed for a visit or walk farther.

She also stars in the Children Reading to Cirra Program, bringing with her to local libraries a bag of books with stories about Great Pyrenees, dogs and positive canine relationships. Cirra has helped young readers at the Somesville Library, Mount Desert Elementary School and Northeast Harbor Library. Programs in which children read to dogs increase children’s reading skills and teach children how to interact safely around dogs and about responsible dog ownership.

In addition, the Great Pyrenees is a Downeast Dog Scout and has earned other honors for participating in such activities as public education, walkathons, therapy dog visits, boating, hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, agility and rally obedience.