Disabled Dog Earns Therapy Animal Certificate After Escaping Dog Meat Trade

In recent years, it's been made abundantly clear just how powerful an animal's love can be in a therapeutic setting.

Whether we're talking about older adults dealing with isolation, veterans living with PTSD, or hospitalized children, many vulnerable groups have seen clear benefits from therapy animal programs.

And while the presence of a happy dog is its own gift, we can sometimes find powerful stories behind how these animals came to do their jobs.

In the case of one of these dogs, parts of that story can seem hard to even imagine.

If things had turned out just a little differently, we would've never heard about Ichabod the Malamute because he wouldn't be with us today.

According to People, members of a global animal welfare organization named No Dogs Left Behind discovered Ichabod in a truck bound for a slaughterhouse intended to supply the local dark market for dog meat.

And as if that wasn't harrowing enough for him, his carers found that his kneecaps tended to shift from their regular position, which veterinarians call luxated patellas.

But while that condition affected his mobility, it seemed to have no effect whatsoever on his spirit.

And that was clear to Gayle Ellias — the woman who would eventually adopt him — when she saw him in a video from No Dogs Left Behind's adoption page.

As she told People, she recalled being impressed by how confidently he moved and how well he got along with other dogs.

And those feelings deepened when she met him for this first time and saw how he was calm and stable while also being friendly and playful.

As she put it, "I thought, 'Oh, he's going to be the best therapy dog.' I saw Ichabod's temperament as he's so solid and unwavering."

And that's proved particularly important in his interactions with children because he doesn't react to their sudden, energetic movements, which often makes them feel safe with him.

So even though Ellias didn't have any experience caring for therapy animals, she enrolled Ichabod in the Alliance of Therapy Dogs' certification program.

From there, Ellias and Ichabod were evaluated on how strong their relationship was and whether he had the right temperament for the job.

As we can see here, the dynamic duo not only passed, but did so on their first try and Ichabod is now an offical therapy dog.

And he's already been hard at work as he was one of the animals who comforted survivors of the Oxford High School shooting in suburban Detroit. He's also been supporting a charity devoted to helping kids with special needs known as Friendship Circle.

And while he's a charming fellow all on his own, his story has often meant a lot to his new friends as well.

In Ellias's words, "They'll learn a little bit about his story, and then he'll get up and move, and they see that he's disabled. And it's really powerful. And I think it's so encouraging."

h/t: People

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