Making a Difference: Teen girl trains dog for the disabled

TULSA - Emily Boegh is just like any other student at Metro Christian Academy.

It's who she has with her that makes her stand out.

The dog she takes with her to every class, Scout.  

"He's probably the most popular student in each class," said Emily.  "People love seeing him and he brings a smile to people's faces."

She's training the dog for Therapetics, a non-profit group that finds volunteers to train service dogs for people with disabilities.

"Dogs can be a really neat companion for someone with a disability so I thought that would be something neat to be a part of," said Emily.

But training the dog for such an important job isn't easy.

She takes him everywhere and she's been doing it for two years.

"He lives with us 24/7 so he's always around," said Emily.  "We're always finding new things to train him and work with him with. We started throwing tennis balls and he would go get them for you and now if you throw a shoe he will go get that instead."

And that's just the beginning of what therapetics dogs must be able to do.

Therapetics Executive Director Susan Hartman watches in amazement as all the volunteers, like Emily, devote so much time to training the dogs.

"For her to put aside some of the fun things that teens get to do for someone she's never met," said Hartman. "That's just an amazing thing for her to do."

Hartman says the people who receive the dogs don't like to talk about it, possibly because they're more grateful than words can express.

"When they receive a service dog and they see how much that service dog can help them navigate everyday life, it's sort of like a flower coming to bloom and they're life starts opening up every day a little more and a little more," said Hartman.

Emily knows someday soon she'll say goodbye to Scout, so someone else can say hello.

"It will be nice to kind of see it come to a nice close and see him making a difference in someone's life," said Emily.

So far Therapetics has placed at least 40 service dogs with people with disabilities.

To learn more about training a dog or receiving one of their dogs visit therapetics.org .

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