therapy dog Nova

Nova's history and education

I adopted Nova from Rez Dog Rescue in January 2015. She was picked up as a stray by a kill shelter in New Mexico. Rez Dog Rescue rescued her from that shelter and brought her to Boulder, where my family and I met and fell in love with her.

Nova clearly has her own trauma history. You may notice that she has a sensitive startle response (she jumps at unexpected things). Shortly after her adoption, our vet discovered a bullet lodged in her left rear leg. My family also quickly noticed that she gets very nervous when people move things near her with their feet. We suspect that someone kicked her a lot in her previous life. On the other hand, I think someone cared for her to some extent. Nova knew a few commands when we met her and she had already been spayed. She has also been pretty trusting and loving since day one. 

Nova and I have completed training in Animal Assisted Therapy (specifically Canine Assisted Counseling) and are a registered team with Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado. As part of this program, Nova passed a rigorous test to ensure that she has the skills and temperament necessary for an effective professional therapy dog. Nova is well trained in terms of manners, and now we're working on learning tricks!

Boulder counseling dog girl kisses

Things to know about Nova

There are a couple of things that you might want to know before we get started:

  • What is Nova like? Nova is a German Shepherd/Australian Cattle Dog mix with a  sweet and calm temperament. She loves snuggles, learning new tricks, treats and naps. Nova weighs about 50 lbs., which is too big to sit in your lap, but not so big that she could knock you over (not that she would try).

  • Is Nova hypoallergenic? I am sorry to say that Nova is not a hypoallergenic dog. If you have significant allergies to dogs, then I am probably not the best therapist for you. But I would be happy to help you to find another therapist that might be a good fit.

  • Nova is very attached to me. The way we will entice her to pay attention to you is to give you treats to hand out. Nova is very food motivated, and whoever gives her treats usually makes it onto her A list within a few sessions. Belly rubs are also helpful!

  • Nova takes some days off. Part of my job as an Animal Assisted Counselor is keep track of the best interests of both my clients and my animal co-therapists. Because of this, Nova will probably not attend all of our sessions. She doesn't have the stamina for therapy that I have. Sometimes she stays home to rest and relax. But if you love working with her, we can try to schedule your sessions at the times that she's most likely to join us.

Nova's personal life

Nova loves to run! But she has a bum knee, so she can't run as much as she'd like. Fortunately, she also likes sniffing things out, hanging out with her many dog friends at the local parks, learning and practicing skills and tricks, snuggling, and herding her family around the house. She loves twilight, and in summer almost always takes a little alone time out in the backyard to enjoy watching the sun go down.