By Tuesday, November 29, 2022 16 No tags Permalink

Harley is 14 and retired from his Therapy Dog duties!…

November 25th the Friday after Thanksgiving – Harley celebrated his 14th year with us. 

As the human equivalent of a 78 year old, he turned in his canine therapist badge, hung up his hospital embroidered leash and I removed him from the active duty roster.

Surprisingly to me, when I changed his status from “active” to “inactive” in the system that morning, I wasn’t sad at all. I found myself full of pride for all that he’d done for so many both here in Charleston as well as back in Virginia.


in my wildest dreams did I have an inkling of an idea of the journey he had planned for us.

You see, Harley’s the first dog I’ve ever raised as my own. Prior to him, I was “that person” who preferred not to come to your home because you had pets! #yep

Not sure how God was able to turn me around, but it had to be Him, because from the day we met, my life has been an indescribable experience.

And I owe it all – every single accomplishment to Harley….

In previous stories about Harley and his secret assignment to make me a therapy dog handler, I’ve shared how it all began with my 93 year old mother

From there – he showed me his purpose, comforting and connecting with those suffering from memory loss and other debilitating illnesses associated with aging.


became clearer when we moved to Charleston, SC and started volunteering at the Medical University.

For two years we strolled the children’s hospital making new friends every week. Before long, as we poked our heads through hospital doors, little humans who call out his name! There are many children who require hospitalization for regimented treatments, and being able to reunite with Harley made their visits a little brighter.

It was always a joy to watch Harley jump on their beds, and allow them to love on him as long as they wanted. 


I poked my head in the Volunteer Services office and asked the manager to remember me if she ever decided to hire additional staff – I was ready to get back into the work force. 

I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Revelation 3:8

Six months after coming onboard in the department, the role of Coordinator for the therapy animal program became available and I applied. #therestisHistory


volunteered for close to 12 years with a short relocation break and one 8 month long pandemic furlough. He specialized in children, not due to his ability to perform tricks or catch a ball, but because he resembled their favorite stuffed animal, who would cuddle on a bed and allow them to rub his hair for as long as required..

Riding at the foot of many a gurney headed into pre-op was a weekly occurrence…

In pre-op he would lie still as medical personnel sedated the small patient. Lot’s of times I would watch the tiny fingers relax and open slowly releasing his tail as they fell asleep. 

Harley would then prance proudly into the waiting room area smiling at the parents who anxiously looked at us for some sort of sign. As they hugged his neck (and on occasion mine too) I assured them that their precious son or daughter was fast asleep and never even cried because he/she had Harley there with them.


for Harley hasn’t been much of an adjustment. When he’s not napping, he’s never far from one of his humans…

During the week, Harley spends his new 9 to 5 hanging out with Doodle Dad. When the weather is bad, he’s perched on the landing watching traffic. Sunny days, you can find him on the porch keeping an eye on Lee as he dabble with “honey-do” projects.

He’s no longer a fan of car rides, so when he chooses not to go for a “Lowes run”,  no one forces him.

I am so grateful for all that Harley has taught me, which in turn has set the standards for all those in the program I manage. He is the force behind everything that I do.

Thank you Harley, you’ve been an excellent teacher…

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Jaxson has been training for several years to take the leash and continue Harley’s legacy. He’s more than ready and has come into his own, even at staff meetings…

For more than a year he’s shown me the incredible gifts he holds with assisting those in need of motivation with physical and occupational therapy. #moreonhimlater

Dogs are the best kind of therapy ❤️

  • Deirdre
    November 29, 2022

    Well done Harley!! You should be so proud of your work and yourself!!!! your doodle friends Lilly and Chester

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Hey Deirdre, how are you? How’s Lilly and Chester doing?

  • Karen L. Brusie
    November 29, 2022

    I miss you! Mila definitely misses you! Happy Birthday to Harley!

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Hey there ole’ neighbors! I was looking at some of those photos and videos from the corner lawn not too long ago. Hugs to Mila

  • Cheryl
    November 29, 2022

    Congratulations on your retirement, Harley, you’ve earned it! You have brought so much joy and comfort to so many, patients and health care workers alike! ❤️

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Thank you so much Cheryl, he has been a true gift to so many….

  • Uka Walt
    November 29, 2022

    Congratulations Harley and Aunt Cathy too! Both of you have made an incredible impact on the lives of so many over the years! Such achievements won’t be easily forgotten and will be built upon by heir to the throne “Handsome Jackson!”

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Thanks Uka Walt. Harley has definitely put in his time and deserves to do whatever he wants from here on out. Jaxson is doing well, full of energy until about 2:30pm. LOL On his work days, we have very quiet nights!

  • Vicki Brumbelow
    November 29, 2022

    Our therapy dogs lead us on a journey we could never have imagined and in the process they not only bring smiles/joy/laughter and love to all with whom they come in contact; they make their handlers better people. ❤️ Enjoy your retirement Harley, Charlie Charizard says hello from his rocking chair.

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Awhhh, tell Charlie – Harley believes the two of them (and of course Joey) set the bar pretty high for those who come afterwards LOL

  • Madison
    November 29, 2022

    It’s an amazing thing when you and your dog find your “thing” and become a real team. You both found your niche. We wish Harley a long, healthy, and happy retirement. PS Bailie is jealous as she would love to be a therapy dog, but I have no interest. We look forward to see what Jason does with his career.

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      If we were only closed, Bailey could come to the hospital with me and your mom could take wild Jax to scent training!

  • Greg Reid
    November 29, 2022

    Well done Harley! I remember when you took the reins from Leo and now you pass on your comforting duties to Jaxson. Enjoy your retirement and keep Doodle Dad company. Maybe you can travel with him and teach some of his young associates obidence and patience (smile).

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Thanks Greg – Harley and Lee spend a great deal of time outside here in Charleston. Harley doesn’t like to ride in the truck much – but on the days that he does, it is super sweet to see tough ole Army Ranger Bennett, gently lift him up and place him in the back seat because he doesn’t think Harley needs to try and jump in LOL

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    November 30, 2022

    Congratulations on a doggone amazing career as a pet therapy dog, Harley (and happy belated birthday). Very well done. As an ambassador for pet therapy pups, you’ve demonstrated just how amazing you are. Enjoy those naps and keep your mom smiling knowing how you took her on a remarkable journey brightening staff and patient lives. Best wishes to your brother who now has the pet therapy baton.
    Hugs and tail wags, sweet boy.

    • Cathy Bennett
      December 26, 2022

      Such a sweet comment, thank you so much! Harley is truly the Ambassador for therapy work, a family pet, and so much more around here in Doodleville. He is missed in the hospital for sure, but Jaxson is doing a fine job living up to the legend LOL. Thanks for making me smile…