Diva is a 5-year-old white Standard poodle belonging to Catherine Congle, who has been a therapy dog evaluator for Pet Partners for over 10 years. Standard poodles are close to the perfect dog. They are highly intelligent, gentle, intuitive, natural learners, great with kids, and highly trainable in addition to being beautiful with the ability to be groomed in so many ways.
Since Catherine is a therapy dog evaluator, it stands to reason that Diva is a certified therapy dog. She provides comfort in many stressful situations, having participated at the request of the police department to be present during “Every 15 Minutes,” a very “real life” exercise done with high school students, police, and parents where they spend several days in a mock death of one of the students as a result of drinking or texting while driving. Diva has received an award for her participation in helping the students through this very lifelike trauma.
Not too long ago, Catherine and Diva were preparing for a 6-hour flight across country. “I was really looking forward to watching the TV during the flight,” says Catherine. As they waited for the plane to take off the flight attendant announced a slight delay as they were waiting on one passenger who was connecting from another city. Catherine was trying to get the TV in front of her to work as the flight attendants made another announcement – all the TVs were working with the exception of the bulkhead seats where she and Diva were sitting. It was going to be a long 6 hours without a TV.
Suddenly, a tall thin man rushed on board and sat on the aisle seat of their row. He looked tired and frazzled but relieved he made this flight. “I introduced Diva and myself to him and explained we would not be having any TV entertainment on this flight. Diva sat by his feet and seemed to know he needed some attention. He immediately reached down and started petting her telling me about his dogs at home and how pleased he was at this very emotional time to be sitting with Diva,” recalls Catherine.
“He told me he lived in Virginia and just made this flight to Long Beach due to a family emergency. His son who was in his late 20’s was hit on his motorcycle and was in the hospital in critical condition. He was not sure if he would be alive when he arrived in California or if he would lose his leg. We talked about his son and his family while he cried and stroked Diva, who eventually made it into the middle seat to be closer to him. She laid down by him the entire flight. What would typically seem like a very long flight went quickly even without TV entertainment, which was obviously meant to be.
“As we were landing we exchanged email addresses so I could find out how his son was doing and he wanted to keep in touch. He said to me if it wasn’t for Diva he would never have survived this flight alone as he was in so much pain and anxiety over his son. He was so grateful,” says Catherine. They kept in contact and the man’s son survived and was taken home to Virginia to recuperate.
Diva enjoys being part of a team that gives back to the community by volunteering for events, support for high schools, colleges, police departments and hospitals. She has also volunteered for Special Olympics, programs for children diagnosed with cancer, hospital visits and more. In her “spare time” Diva also does runway shows. She is from a show line of champion poodles and loves the camera. You can see Diva and her “brother” and up to 100 other standard poodles, walking along El Paseo in Palm Desert as they participate in the Standard Poodle Club of the Desert’s Poodle Parade on the first Saturday morning of each month.
For more information about Every 15 Minutes, visit www.everyfifteen minutes.org/aboutus/
Visit the Standard Poodle Club of the Desert’s Facebook page.