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Former Puppy Bowl player becomes a therapy dog

<i>WMAR via CNN Newsource</i><br/>We introduced you to Linus
Willingham, James
WMAR via CNN Newsource
We introduced you to Linus

By Cesar Cornejo

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    BALTIMORE (WMAR) — We introduced you to Linus, a dog that was featured in the puppy bowl while representing Baltimore and the Ronnie Stanley Foundation, but he is more than just a cute pup.

Lakeland Elementary/Middle School is like any other school, but last week there was a dog tearing it up on the court.

That isn’t air bud shooting hoops at Lakeland- it’s Dave, or as you may know him from the Puppy Bowl, Linus.

He was at the school last week thanking students for helping him rank fourth in the popularity contest for the annual event.

But his owner Alicia Harantchuck, tells us that this is also a part of his much larger body of work now as he continues his training to be a therapy dog.

“I quickly realized he has a bit of a special power with people, and we have really kind of taken a different approach. I am a certified trainer, a certified canine behavioralist, so I do work a lot with dogs and I decided to do something a little bit different with Dave. We primarily focus on tricks and getting used to different objects and moving awkwardly, so that he can become a very amazing therapy dog,” says Harantchuck.

Dave is still in the process of getting his certification but still spreading love while training, like he did for the kids at Lakeland.

As for what type of therapy he will be focused on, it’s up to Dave to decide. He will get the opportunity to try different environments and see which he enjoys most through his training.

“Predominantly, my focus has really been, with having so many therapy dogs, is at every stage of life. So, young kids all the way through hospice and actually helping individuals as they pass on and their family members who are there with them. And I know the power of the pup and how we can have a meaningful impact for individuals. So, it’s really going to run the gamete as to the populations that we’ll visit,” explains Harantchuck.

And while Dave will be finding his very own niche in the therapy dog world, he already provides a special kind of happiness for Alicia through his new name.

“His full name is David’s magical bond. He is named after my dear friend, David Bond and his dog magic, and David passed away unexpectedly and now I get to hear his name every day,” says Harantchuck

David was also a therapy dog trainer, and his work will be remembered through Dave the dog.

All this could not have happened without the amazing work that the Ronnie Stanley Foundation and Rene’s Rescue are doing, but even they know that Dave and Alicia’s pairing is something special.

“What’s special about Dave is that his rescue, his adoption, is really going to be exponentially beneficial; in that it’s not going to be just Alicia and Gene that he’s going to be helping, he’s going to be helping the entire community and he’s already doing it now even in training,” says Amey Silkworth, Executive Secretary of the Ronnie Stanley Foundation.

Dave continues to work through his training and is very much ready to get out there to help people brighten their day. You can follow Dave on his journey through his Instagram page, @raising_dave_the_hound.

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