Meet Mocca, Our Pet of the Month

This pretty girl belongs to our very own financial analyst Rachel Gambale. Mocca (pronounced Mocha) is believed to be a 5-year-old Great Dane/Labrador mix and works part-time as a certified therapy dog.

Rachel and her boys just happened to be at a local rescue group four years ago meeting other dogs when Mocca’s original owner decided to give her up. It was love at first sight so the Gambales adopted her that day. Rachel immediately recognized – because of Mocca’s loving and gentle demeanor – that she would make a great therapy dog. “We went through the process of having her certified and now she regularly visits a facility for mentally disabled people and a local women’s shelter,” said Rachel.

Mocca is registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), an international registry of certified therapy dogs groups. Members and their dogs work strictly on a volunteer basis in a variety of settings including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, hospitals, cancer centers and in patients’ homes – anywhere a smile is needed.

A father of an autistic boy recently reached out to the ATD to see if there were any therapy dogs in our community who could help his son with his severe fear of animals. “The child was absolutely terrified of all animals, making it impossible for the family to even go to a park where there might be dogs,” said Rachel. Mocca was one of the dogs in the group who stepped up to the task. The father sent Rachel an email after his family’s recent trip to the beach:

It wasn’t a very crowded beach, and people had dogs there. When people walked by us with dogs [our son] either didn’t do anything or asked to pet the dogs. He was still pretty skittish once granted permission, but we watched these encounters and I said, “Can you imagine had this happened four months ago? He would have freaked and started panicking.”

It wasn’t just the dogs either. Less humans means more wildlife. We saw seagulls, plovers, pelicans, willets, and other marine birds, and he wasn’t afraid of them. We even had to warn him to stay away from the heron and not to chase the seagulls. Four months ago, before this therapy dog journey began, he would have demanded to be picked up and cried whenever one of these birds appeared to move toward him.

This is the difference you have helped to make, and I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you, Mocca and Rachel, for making such a wonderful and loving contribution in our community.

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