Events Manager, Courtney Basso and her family have welcomed a new, furry addition to their home, and to the JMF family as well! Hopper, a hopeful therapy dog, is a comforting (and adorable) new presence at the Joseph Maley Foundation. In this week’s blog post, we’ve asked Courtney to introduce Hopper, and to give some insight on what exactly a therapy dog is, and how Hopper can impact JMF.

What’s the story behind the name “Hopper”?

We are huge fans of the series Stranger Things and there is a main character named Hopper.  My daughter thought that the puppy looked like that character and the name stuck. After our Hopper came home, we realized how appropriate it was, as he “hops” when he gets excited while running around the back yard.

Can you explain what a therapy dog is?

A therapy dog volunteers with their owner in places like schools and hospitals. The animal provides support in ways that are different than a service dog. For example, a therapy dog would comfort a child who is grieving or interact with a senior who enjoys physical affection. Essentially, the job of a therapy dog brings the saying “man’s best friend” to life.

What kind of training is Hopper going to have to go through?

The first step is basic obedience training, which Hopper is working on right now. After he is one year of age, he will be evaluated to determine if he will be accepted into formal therapy training. Therapy dogs have to be friendly, outgoing and able to greet individuals of all ages, gender, etc. Hopper is already showing signs of all of these traits!

Have you always wanted to have a therapy dog? Why did you and your family decide to pursue this?

I’ve always been a dog person. Those cheesy memes that show introverts at parties ignoring humans and seeking out the dog in the room? That’s me. Since working at JMF, I’ve been drawn to the way dogs can help facilitate a level of comfort with all people, regardless of age and ability, during times of stress or frustration. Our family was finally ready to bring a dog of our own home and we knew that pursuing therapy certification would benefit not only our family, but JMF as well.  

How do you hope Hopper will impact JMF?

Hopper has already had a positive impact. When he is at work with me, staff members always take advantage of some cuddle time with him. We all joke about our decreased stress because we always have babies or dogs to play with during the day! My goal is to be able to utilize Hopper throughout all JMF programs. For example, as a therapy dog, Hopper can attend Joseph Maley Fitness sessions to ease an athlete into a new sport, or assist at a HOPE workshop to comfort someone having difficulty expressing their emotions.

Finally, can you tell us the best or funniest Hopper story so far?

At our house, Hopper is not allowed on the furniture.  He will jump on the couch and put his head under a pillow, as if we can no longer see him and he thinks he’s getting away with something. For such a smart dog, sometimes he’s a little silly!