Paws for People: Luka’s Story

Paws for People: Luka’s Story

Luka & CERTS/Smryna: The Perfect Pair

By Janice Baldwin-Hench


I adopted Luka from Delaware Puppy Rescue in October 2013. He was a three-month old puppy mill survivor, a four pound ball of reddish-brown fluff, and a very scared little dog. I never knew what happened to him before he reached his foster family, but he was terrified of walking on a leash. He would lag behind me. He would stop suddenly.

As he became used to our family, his calm, friendly disposition emerged. He conquered so many of his fears and slowly learned all the obedience behaviors he would need to become a therapy dog with PAWS for People. Although he was still frightened of his leash, I took him to PAWS for testing in February 2015. He was two years old.

He performed many commands correctly, but his fear of walking on his leash made it impossible for him to perform well. Our volunteer coordinator, passed him at the basic level and suggested that I take him visiting to give him some experience and build his confidence.

I knew CERTS/Smyrna was the perfect place to give him a good start. I had been visiting this site weekly for almost two years with my other PAWS dogs, and it was a very welcoming place. The staff loved dogs and loved our therapy visits. I told them about Luka and his history, and they encouraged me to bring him. Week by week, I saw Luka change. He couldn’t wait to put on his PAWS leash and spend time with the CERTS staff and participants. Within three months, he had completely overcome his fear of leash walking and re-tested at the advanced obedience level.

Luka’s story is an example of a perfect fit. He brings love and laughter to every visit he makes. And the people of CERTS understood and welcomed this hesitant dog and helped him become the confident, affectionate therapy companion he is today.