This is Paugan’s story as it was written for his OTD member profile in 2004. Paugan passed away in 2007.
When Paugan (pronounced Paw-gan, after a place near Low, Quebec) was just a pup, the vet gave me this advice: “These dogs like to work. Find him a job. Do something with him.” Five years later, we’ve done many obedience classes, fly ball (his passion), agility, and more recently, therapy dog work.
Paugan is an energetic Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever; not your usual, placid therapy dog. Fortunately, after a lot of work, he did pass the therapy dog evaluation through Ottawa Therapy Dogs. His work in The Rehabilitation Centre in Ottawa seems a good match for his personality and talents. For nearly three years, Paugan has accompanied me to work on Fridays and assists men and women who have had a stroke and, as a result, have severe communication difficulties. Paugan works in the area of speech language patholology. There are measurable goals and outcomes, and so the work is different from pet visitation programs.
Usually, Paugan works with at least three patients a morning. He takes his work very seriously. Once his therapy dog bandana goes on, he turns on his best behavior. He knows that he can’t be too much of a goof ball around the hospital. Patients really seem to thrive under his warm touch.
Together, we assist patients with their listening skills, their talking, their reading and their writing. Sometimes,we may also work on articulation or voice therapy. Friday’s a “dog theme”, so patients continue with their same goals around the topic of dogs. Often, Paugan uses his retriever skills to bring back balls as a reward when a patient is learning to speak again. It¹s fun; we all have a good time and when a patient relaxes, well, the words just seem to come out a little easier.
Paugan has gained some celebrity of late. He’s been on TV shows such as Animal Magnetism and Dogs With Jobs. Looks like the vet was right. He really did need a job.