Meet Charlotte, the smallest service dog with the biggest heart!
Charlotte is a 2-year-old purebred Shih Tzu and has been visiting St. Mary’s School with her owner, Judy Kidd, for most of the 2022-23 school year. When Judy got Charlotte as a puppy, she knew training her to be a therapy dog was something she wanted to do. A spunky dog despite her diminutive size, Charlotte underwent serious training to prepare to serve others and has since been registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
Every Wednesday, first grade students sit with Charlotte and Judy and practice their reading. “The students just adore Charlotte,” says Judy, “They very carefully keep track of whose turn it is to read to her each week and rush out to see her once she arrives.” Charlotte seems to enjoy these visits just as much as the students do, and showers them with her attention, tail wags and kisses. “Sometimes when they’re reading to her, Charlotte will jump up and wag her tail to let them know they’re doing a good job.” Her hour-long visits allow her to spend time with about five different students each week, and these one-on-one concentration periods help the students to strengthen both their reading skills and their confidence.
But St. Mary’s School isn’t the only place Charlotte visits to bring her charm! Charlotte and Judy visit hospice patients together, where Charlotte is able to provide comfort through her calming presence and her cuddles. They occasionally visit the Ottawa County courthouses, to provide some welcome relief to those who work in stressful environments.
When she isn’t working, Charlotte likes to play with her favorite toy - an empty gallon milk jug that is bigger than she is. She also enjoys going on walks with her doggy friends in the neighborhood, and though she is the littlest dog, likes to lead the way. No matter where she is, Charlotte helps spread happiness!