Archie works hard at his job. This 165-pound Newfoundland has worked at Casa Pacifica, a Venutra County oasis for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children, for the past two years.
The idea of Archie started with Vicki Murphy, Casa Pacifica’s Director of operations and development. She had seen how much a dog could influence children in positive ways. She thought that dogs could perhaps help children whose human role models had failed them or hurt them.
Murphy chose a Newfoundland because of their gentle and playful nature. At first, some children are afraid by Archie’s big size. But since Archie is such a lovable dog, the children know that he is warm and friendly. They feel a sense of security with him.
Children of all ages look to Archie for support and encouragement. They read to Archie, tell him of their frustrations, and just sit by him when they need a friend.
A toddler who arrived at Casa Pacifica when she was 11 months old spoke her first word there: Archie.
A study presented at an American Heart Association conference has even shown that the value of a therapy animal. In the group visited by a dog, anxiety levels dropped 24%, compared with a 10% drop in patients visited by a human volunteer and no drop in those with no visitor.
The children at Casa Pacifica do not need studies to know that Archie has been a positive influence on their lives.
From LA Times:
As for the drooling, Murphy and the other staffers have learned to live with what the kids call Archie’s “schnarf.” Murphy bought stacks of white cotton shop towels, and everyone from the receptionist to Elson keeps one nearby to wipe slobber off walls, desks and laps.
At Casa Pacifica, Archie starts each day by greeting everyone who works there. Unfolding from the back seat of Murphy’s Chrysler in the morning (her husband was right about those nights and weekends), he pokes his big, square head into every office before posting himself at the door to await the children.
Like many large breeds, Newfies are prone to joint problems. Most recently, Archie blew out his hip playing with Tallulah, Murphy’s Shih Tzu, a silken-haired dog about the size of a loaf of bread.
Donations paid for the repairs. As Archie recovered, handmade get-well cards covered Casa Pacifica’s walls and doors. The kids missed him. Home alone, the dog howled.
Murphy decided that work was the best medicine, and so Archie limped back to the office, his leg in a cast. And children who had known great callousness in their lives treated the giant canine with exquisite tenderness.