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New Evaluator Brings MoreTherapy Dogs to the NorthwoodsSubmitted: 05/09/2013
Story By Kailey Burton


Photos By Kailey Burton

EAGLE RIVER - Sometimes the best medicine doesn't come from a doctor, but a good friend- or a furry friend. Research tells us therapy dogs can improve our mood, and our health.

"That's a natural therapy dog, wanting to give love... The dogs are certified because they love people and they love to give love," said Nicole Belmore, owner of Northern Wisconsin Canine Center, and a trained Evaluator for Therapy Dogs International.

The playful expression often on Dare's face brings joy to many nursing home patients. But he does even more; his friendly affection actually improves their health.

"Research has shown that it actually lowers blood pressure... Those who can't have pets anymore or even remember when they had a pet, it gets them up into bed a lot of them will get out of bed when they see the therapy dog, or they know a therapy dog is down the hallway, they want to come see the therapy dog. So it brings them a sense of joy," said Belmore.

Belmore sees a great need for more dogs like Dare in the Northwoods. However, the closest place to get certified WAS hundreds of miles away. Then Belmore became an evaluator in Eagle River. Now she can put your dog to the test.

"There are several tests we need to give. They need to sit on command, they need to lie down on command…They need to be able to walk on a loose leash," she said.

And then, they need to pass the biggest challenge of all....

"We have to have a bowl of food or a plate of food on the ground and the dog has to walk over the food without touching it."

Think your dog is up to the test? Belmore offers training classes and several certification tests each year.


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"I love the fact that my kids are here and they're getting a hands on experience," said Wirz.

"I mostly help load and unload the animals from home to here. Also, I fill up all the water when we get here, and I run the food booth," said staff member and son Aiden Wirz.

That all adds up to work for their kids and there are some perks to working for your parents.

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Even with all the hard work that goes into owning a farm, the happy visitors make it all worth it.

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