Eli the Belgian Sheepdog is living proof thathavingthe heart ofa champion amounts to a lot more thanjust good looks.
In September of 2001, the 9/11 hero K9 comfortedevacuees fromGround Zero; he wasstationed at the command post in Jersey City at Liberty State Park, interacting with thepeoplewho’d justcrossed the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. Ten years on, Elihas been awarded the distinction of 2011 Therapy Dog Ambassador for the National Dog Show Presented by Purina.
Andas part of that new mission, yesterdayEli paid a visit to the health-challenged children at Ronald McDonald House in Manhattan, which supports families of children with cancerwhile they stay in New York for treatment.
Eli has retired from the show world to work as a therapy dog. Certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI), he’s one of the few working canines still alive who was on hand that unforgettable day in 2001. If onlyEli could talk, the stories he’d tell.
This remarkable â€” and handsome â€” creaturebrought a healing smile to the faces of all the children with whom he interacted, including Gage Sutherof Birmingham, AL, pictured in the photo with his mom, Chelsea,and Eli. Gage is battling Fanconi anemia, a cancer precursor, and staying at the Ronald McDonald House while undergoing treatment.
What a great therapy dog, marveled Cherilyn Frei, chaplain at the house, who organizes such visits on a regular basis.Sheknowsa greattherapy dogwhen she sees one:Her own beloved dogs â€” two Brittanys and a Cavalier King Charles Spanielthat she shares with her husband, National Dog Show co-host David Frei â€”are allveteran therapy animals. The Freis are renownedthroughout the K9 media as a power couple who champion the cause of therapy dogs at every opportunity.
Look out for many more hardworking lookers in Eli’s league at the National Dog Show when it’s televised on Thanksgiving morning.