Pet Partner

HARLINGEN — “Slam.”

Someone dropped a black case to see how Eileen Berger and her dog Snafu would react.

Snafu showed no reaction, which was the best action considering he and Berger were being evaluated to be a team so Snafu could work as a therapy pet.

“This is going to be a pass,” said George Cox, one of the evaluators.

He and his wife Katherine Brookbank of Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets were evaluating Berger and Snafu yesterday to see how they work together. Passing the evaluation meant they could be registered to do volunteer work. Several teams were evaluated.

The registration is made by Pet Partners, a national organization. Before the evaluation, the dog owners must also take a webinar with Pet Partners.

Typically, registered teams go into nursing homes, hospitals and other locations to give comfort to those in need.

Berger cuddled Snafu in her arms, delighted they’d passed.

“He medical alerts for me, but I rarely need him,” she said. “He’s been my greatest joy. He senses when you need a hug, when they need attention because they feel stressed. He will go to you and stay there if you need that.”

Medical alert is a practice in which dogs sense a specific medical problem in someone.

Berger and Snafu had to perform specific scenarios and maneuvers during their evaluation. Those scenarios included accepting a friendly stranger, dealing with other dogs and going out for a walk.

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