The Great Pyrenees Club of America has awarded Cirra, Glimmer’s Spirit of Acadia, four advanced titles: Versatility with Advanced Excellence, Versatility Ultimate, Advanced Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities, and Advanced Excellent Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities. Cirra is presently the only Great Pyrenees to earn the Advanced Excellent Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities title. She is one of only three Great Pyrenees in the country to have earned the Versatility Ultimate title.
The Great Pyrenees Club of America’s Versatility Program encourages Pyr owners to interact with their dogs in a positive, experiential and educational manner. Each year the Great Pyrenees Club of America acknowledges club members actively involved with their dogs in service to others in their community. The Great Pyrenees Versatility Program provides an opportunity to promote an understanding of the breed and to honor the versatile nature of Pyrs.
The Great Pyrenees Club of America awards five Versatility titles which are earned on a progressive basis based on many possible combinations of activities. Cirra’s Versatility activities have included: agility, backpacking, boating, Camp Buster, Children Reading to Cirra visits, costume contests, dining, Dog Scouts of America merit badges, hiking, mountain climbing, rally obedience, therapy dog visits, training classes, photo contests, public education, transportation and walkathons. As a member of the Downeast Dog Scouts she has been involved in numerous community service projects and educational programs.
The Advanced Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities title is awarded to a Great Pyrenees who has completed 500 hours of service in two different venues. The Advanced Excellent Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities title is awarded to a Great Pyrenees who has completed 800 hours of service in three different venues. Cirra’s Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities currently include her Children Reading to Cirra Program and therapy dog visits to Birch Bay Retirement Village.
The Children Reading to Cirra Program provides a relaxed, comfortable, safe, nonjudgmental, empowering and fun environment to encourage the love of reading and improve reading skills. Readers learn how to interact safely around dogs and about responsible dog ownership. Children that read to Cirra develop special relationships with the soft, big, white fluffy girl.
Learning is enriching and fun with Cirra’s breed cards, word puzzles, activity books and her Alphabet Book. “C is for Cirra” is a photographic alphabet book featuring Cirra’s life from puppyhood to adulthood is a favorite book. Cirra has a mail basket at the library for children to leave her special notes and drawings if they wish. Her small, stuffed “Cirra” in a tote bag is also available for checkout for children to read to “Cirra” at home. Cirra rewards her readers with Cirra bookmarks with tassels of her spun fur, stickers, paw print pencils and special books to take home.
Cirra and Robyn Douglas currently offer the Children Reading to Cirra Program at the Northeast Harbor Library. In 2012 and 2013, Cirra also participated in the Idita-Read, an incentive reading program for school age children sponsored by the Downeast Dog Scouts at several schools and libraries. Last summer, campers at Camp Beech Cliff had the opportunity to read to Cirra one afternoon a week during the last session of the day. Cirra continues to be involved in many additional children’s literacy activities by visiting various libraries and schools for special events.
As a therapy dog team, Cirra and Denise Houseknecht visit the Pleasant Cove and Safe Harbor Assisted Living units at Birch Bay Village in Bar Harbor. Cirra provides emotional support and canine companionship for the residents that enjoy dogs. The staff of Birch Bay Village also enjoys Cirra’s visits and visitors are quite thrilled to meet the beautiful big white dog that they have heard so much about. Cirra also garners attention when she occasionally escorts residents as they walk outdoors on the grounds. Over the past five years Cirra has made therapy dog visits at two hospitals, a nursing care facility and Birch Bay Village.
Great Pyrenees are confident, gentle, and affectionate. As a livestock guardian breed, the Great Pyrenees is matchless. They are known for their keen intellect and bore quickly with repetitious training. The Great Pyrenees breed heritage is to think independently with a reserved confidence when assessing threats to their flock. Forever observant, Cirra demonstrates the instinctive guardian characteristics of the breed and has assimilated into the human world as a therapeutic assistant. She is truly an exceptional ambassador for her breed!
Cirra, Glimmer’s Spirit of Acadia, is eight years old and lives on Mount Desert Island with her owners Robyn Douglas and Denise Houseknecht. She clearly demonstrates that a Great Pyrenees can learn and fully participate when given opportunity and devotion from the owners. Cirra may be seen out for a daily walk, enjoying a boating trip, shopping at Bark Harbor, exploring a hiking trail, dining on the lawn at the Jordan Pond House and quite often getting her picture taken. She has taught many to love and respect the unique characteristics of the Great Pyrenees breed. Cirra has represented the Great Pyrenees breed with distinction and has lived up to her name in every respect as Glimmer’s Spirit of Acadia.