A Triple Treat by Carroll Colasardo

Over the past five years Carroll Colasardo has received triple the reward - for three of her vibrant Shelties alternate visiting with her at S.H.A.R.P. School in Mesa for Gabriel’s Angels. This school is designed to support the needs of children with a variety of behavioral issues. Carroll believes that her therapy dogs, Uni, and Flash, are very intuitive on their visits to focus on the children who are hesitant to interact. Denali will try to climb in a child’s soft lap, Uni will position himself in the middle of the kids during group time, and Flash offers his best smile prompting a child to brush his teeth.

It wasn’t always so easy…

In 2006 Carroll and Uni joined Gabriel’s Angels. Two year old Uni had a wonderful temperament, a bit of a sense of humor and loved interacting with children.

The next year, Denali became her second dog to begin therapy visits. Carroll and her dogs see many of the same children from year to year at S.H.A.R.P., so she was anticipating excitement over her new canine partner. But Denali’s first encounter was a disaster as the kids ignored Denali and asked for Uni!  This challenge created the opportunity for Denali to teach the children the important social behaviors of acceptance and respect. As time passed, both Uni and Denali alternated visits, and the children learned to appreciate the personality differences in each dog.  Carroll seized this chance to talk about the differences and similarities in people too, reinforcing how every living creature is special.

When Flash began his visits as Carroll’s third therapy dog the transition was easier, as Carroll prepared the children for their new visitor and talked about Flash as a family member to Uni and Denali.  Spunky Flash quickly found his own way to win over the children - by showing them his freestyle dance routine!

During her years as a Gabriel’s Angels Therapy Team Carroll has witnessed how change affects at-risk children.  By establishing a trusting relationship, Carroll and her dogs have created positive experiences and have been role models for the children learning unconditional love, tolerance and acceptance.

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