Caroline Loevner kneels before her Siberian Husky with two handful of treats. She asks him, “Beau, which one has more?” and the regal-looking animal places his paw on his owner’s hand that has four treats, instead of her other hand with two. She transfers the treats between her hands and asks her dog again. Beau selects the hand that has five treats this time. Everyone around the dog smiles and laughs, but the small trick only begins to reveal the happiness that this therapy dog brings to people each week of his life.
Loevner, a Pittsburgh native, adopted Beau via the MaPaw Siberian Husky Rescue, which is located outside of Philadelphia. The organization is dedicated to finding loving homes for huskies that have been victims of abuse.
Before Beau, Loevner didn’t know anything about therapy animals — it wasn’t until Loevner’s vet recommended that she look into it because there was just something really special about this husky. Seven weeks later, Beau had fulfilled a training course from the Delta Society and passed his evaluation to become a registered therapy dog.
Each Sunday, the pair travels to the Rivington House in New York City, which is a 24-hour care facility for AIDS Patients. Many patients don’t have visitors, so weekly stop-ins truly make a difference in their lives. “It’s really beautiful how their whole face lights up when we’re there,” Loevner explains. “Beau will get into bed with the residents, he’ll love them, we’ll play games, or we’ll take them to the park.”
One patient in the Rivington House had suffered from a stroke before she entered the facility. Loevner says that the patient had been working diligently with a speech therapist, but couldn’t form words yet, only make noises. Then, during one of Loevner’s visits the patient was able to form her first word: “Beau.”
Loevner and Beau visit drug treatment centers, are involved with Humane Education in which children read to the dog (he actually flips the pages with his nose for them), and participate in countless other activities such as the New Alternative for Children Kid Olympics and New York City’s first ever Strut Your Mutt event this past September. The blue-eyed husky — with his pretty owner — has documented more than 300 hours of community service this year. The two are stylish regulars at Pittsburgh’s annual Black Tie and Tails event as well.
Loevner and Beau have been together for two-and-a-half years and have helped countless people. Their volunteering schedule is already packed, but Loevner never stops searching for more service opportunities: “We love it; I love it. I wish I could volunteer every day of my life!”
For more information, visit deltasociety.org.