A Healthier Community - Therapy DogsTwo and a half years ago, Kate Porter of the Critter Coalition picked up an abandoned puppy, filthy and starving, wandering the streets of Joshua Tree. It was a miracle that the pup was still alive, or that some automobile or wild predator hadn’t polished him off. As he lay panting and trembling in her lap, the tattered little fellow looked up and gave her a slurpy, licking kiss.  Even in that sorry state he was grateful.

Mr BingoThe first thing Kate did was to take him to the groomer to get cleaned up, then to the vet where he was neutered and given his shots. He appeared to be a Poodle, Bijon mix and just under a year old. Her next task was to find him a good home. As luck would have it, she was acquainted with a couple that had recently lost their canine companion and was longing to share their love with another one. She introduced them to the brave, scrappy pup. It was love at first lick, and they knew they had won the jackpot. They named him Mr. Bingo.

At the dog park, Mr. Bingo was known as “Mr. Congeniality” for his good manners, outgoing nature and exemplary behavior. He took instinctively to obedience training and would not go out the front door unless invited, nor the back gate even if it was open. Mr. Bingo excelled at fetch and hide and seek, loved greenies and other treats, barked to announce dinner and bravely chased Canadian geese from the apron of the swimming pool. He was patient but persistent and used his level, hypnotic gaze to convey his wishes. From the first night that he arrived, Mr. Bingo had his own personal pillow in the middle of the family bed.

His every response and action reflected his appreciation and love. It soon became clear that Mr. Bingo wanted to give back.

Through Animal Samaritans, Mr. Bingo and his family discovered therapy dogs. There were so many opportunities to serve – such great need in the community — that it was difficult for them to choose. He could visit disabled children, go to nursing homes and hospitals, even interact with incarcerated youth at Juvenile Hall. Or, in a state accredited curriculum, Mr. Bingo could help teach children responsible pet ownership, animal safety, dog bite prevention and respect for all living creatures.

Wow! It was almost overwhelming.

First he had to take the obedience and temperament tests….A piece of cake! Not only did he pass with flying colors, Mr. Bingo assisted in testing other dogs.

In a private ceremony with just the family present, Mr. Bingo was awarded the coveted Canine Good Citizen badge and honored with the Animal Samaritan’s Therapy Dog vest.

After much consideration, Mr. Bingo and his family chose to serve at the Eisenhower Hospital’s Five Star Club, a day care facility in Palm Desert for those with illnesses such as stroke, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, depression or Parkinson’s. He has never regretted his choice. The joy Mr. Bingo brings to his new friends is his reward for giving back.

Mr. Bingo faced challenges early on in life, overcame the obstacles and never forgot those who saved him. He finds giving back tremendously rewarding, and by example urges others to experience that same joy.

Rachel Druten of Palm Desert is an artist and published author of 11 historical novels for the inspirational market, two of which are now available as online books. She is also the founder of TOOLS FOR TOMORROW, a nonprofit, free, on-site after school literacy enrichment program integrating art, music, drama and writing for children grades 3 – 5 in elementary schools throughout the Coachella Valley (www.afterschooltools.org). Rachel and Mr. Bingo can be reached at [email protected].

Read or write a comment

Comments (1)

  • What a wonderful story, Rachel! You almost left out the part though of how thrilled I was to have you and Chuck fall so madly in love with the little fur fellow. Like a friend from Texas always said “Why, that little dog fell off the roof onto a water bed! ” lol!

    Thank you so much for taking his sweet nature and allowing him to bring his love to others who need it most. You two truly are the perfect wings for this little Angel and you will always have my deepest gratitude for being his kind and oh so special family. Blessings and love to each of you, two legged AND four!
    Forever, Mr.Bingo’s Auntie Kate


Living Wellness with Jenniferbanner your financial health michelle sarnamentoring the futureNaturopathic Family Medicine with Dr. ShannonThe Paradigm Shift in Medicine TodayConventionally Unconventional with Kinder Fayssoux, MD