Meet Rumor, Our New Therapy Dog!


Lenora Lee, Writer

Bob Jones students can put their paws up and prepare to be destressed as Rumor the therapy dog has come to join our patriot family! 

Rumor is an 18-month-old Havanese dog that spends most of his time with Therapy Partners, comforting people that are in difficult situations or having a bad day, simply needing an adorable animal to be around. Therapy Partners is a local charitable organization that branches off from the national organization, Pet Partners, volunteering with 9 different trained animal species everywhere from schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, etc. 

Mary Graham is the team director of Therapy Partners and the lucky owner of Rumor. When asked about how Rumor got involved with being a therapy dog, she replied, “Rumor was born with a great temperament for therapy work, he is friendly and affectionate, and loves everyone he meets, so I started training him for therapy work soon after he came to live with me”.

Becoming a therapy animal requires many specific characteristics, and also various tests by professionals to see if your furry friend can truly handle any type of person in every which way. Mrs. Graham detailed this process as she said, “The ideal therapy animal is one that loves people, and is well behaved and under the handler’s control, even in environments that are different or unusual. Most dogs love “their” people, but many aren’t fond of strangers. And the dogs that love people need to be well behaved- the last thing we want is for someone to be injured because one of our animals was not under control”.

Testing requirements for these pups are strict as Mrs.Graham also explained. “We ask that dogs entering our program have passed the American Kennel Clubs CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test before they can take our specific Therapy Partners Prep class, which helps to prepare teams to visit in different environments, work with different populations, and work around durable medical equipment. Teams that pass the class, then go on to take an online component and have to pass a team evaluation. All told, this training and testing process can take a long time”. 

Mary Graham has been volunteering with therapy dogs for 14 years! She joined Therapy Partners in 2007 when they moved to Huntsville and exclaimed she loves her job because “Volunteering with my dogs is so rewarding.” Aside from her youngest, Rumor, she also has two other therapy dogs: Nellie and Poppy. Nellie is an 8-year old standard poodle who visits Huntsville Hospital/Fox Army clinic and Poppy, like Rumor, is also a Havanese at 3 years old and works at Legacy Center Adult daycare facility. Nellie visited Bob Jones last year to teach the Patriot Paws Club what therapy animals were all about.

It is very important to the organization that our community knows that we have access to therapy dogs, and what good comes from them. In fact, therapy animals have been scientifically proven to help people as Mrs. Graham also shared. “Animals like Rumor help people by bringing their blood pressure down, raising the levels of serotonin and oxytocin in the bloodstream to help bring calm and comfort to people under stress.” 

All in all, these cuddly friends sure do bring a lot of happiness. Rumor will be available to see during Patriot Path for all BJHS students, so sign up fast! Mrs. Coker, who connected BJHS to Therapy Partners through Patriot Paws, added, “We’ve also requested to have scheduled visits during AP testing and final exams. We are very fortunate to have Therapy Partners working with the school. Dogs bring joy to the lives of so many. We hope that having Rumor here will make school a happier place to be.”