posted on April 4, 2018 by catherinemann


by Catherine Mann

If you’ve frequented my Facebook page, you’ve undoubtedly seen many photos of cute dogs and puppies! I’ve volunteered in animal rescue for decades, and I weave dogs into my stories whenever possible.

In my April Harlequin Desire, THE LOVE CHILD, the heroine has a service dog, a subject matter I wanted to include because of my time helping at PAALS, an ADI accredited service dog training 501c3. I also take therapy dogs to my local hospital to visit patients.

And yes, service dogs and therapy dogs are different!

People often mistakenly interchange the phrases “service” dog, “therapy” dog, and “emotional support” animal. The chart at the end of this blog provides a great overview of the important differences. Simply put:

A service dog is highly trained and assists its handler with a medical condition. The service dog is allowed public access and should not be petted by others while working.

A therapy dog provides comfort in group settings or therapeutic situations. These dogs should have at least basic obedience training. They are only allowed public access at the invitation of the facility.

An emotional support animal (ESA) provides comfort to its owner; however, it can only be labeled as an ESA with a doctor’s letter. These dogs are not allowed public access.

I had a blast including a service dog in THE LOVE CHILD and, no doubt, will be including working dogs in future books. It’s incredible to see what a difference these animals – whether service, therapy, or ESA – make in people’s lives.

Have you had an experience with a service dog, a therapy animal, or an ESA? Or have a question? I’d love to hear from you!

Check out USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann’s website FMI on THE LOVE CHILD, the third installation in her eight-book Alaskan Oil Barons series!

Alaskan Oil Barons Book 3
April 3

Her job is to turn a reclusive rancher into a charming oil tycoon…

Having his baby isn’t part of the deal!

With his family’s company at stake, Trystan reluctantly agrees to a makeover. But the media consultant hired to smooth out his rough edges has him aching. When passion leads to pregnancy, the only honorable choice is a proposal. But Isabeau won’t say yes without his love…


Catherine Mann

Catherine Mann

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Tule. With over seventy-five books released in more than twenty countries, she has won a RITA Award, the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Award, and the Bookseller’s Best Award. She’s also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. After years moving around the country bringing up four children, Catherine has settled in her home state of South Carolina. The nest didn’t stay empty long though as she is active in animal rescue. Catherine enjoys hearing from her readers and can be found online frequently on Facebook. She can also be reached via mail at: P.O. Box 291023, Columbia, SC 29229. (For a free bookmark, send a self addressed stamped envelope.)

2 thoughts on “PUPPY LOVE”

  1. Avatar Traci Westling says:

    My grams assisted living The Wyngate back in WV had a therapy dog . He was possibly a beagle type mix , very docile & did well with the residents. My gram has bad dementia ( not Alzheimer’s) and needed stimulus. The dog made her smile and want to move to touch him . 🙂 fond memories

  2. When I was a teenager, I struggled with severe anorexia nervosa and depression. My wonderful supportive parents tried everything to help me, but nothing was working. In desperation, they told me that if I could make my goal weight, they would get me a puppy. I made the weight, secretly thinking in the back of my head that I would go back to my habits of starving myself again later.

    Then we found a breeder with a litter of cock-a-poo puppies. When we went “just to visit,” a black ball of fuzz, too tiny to even walk yet, hopped its way over to me and settled itself in my lap. It was love, my first love. We brought him home, named him Buddy, and he was mine. All I had to do was sit, pat my knees and he would come running from wherever he was, and nestle into a ball on my lap, just like that very first day. An excellent judge of character, we knew that if he peed when certain people approached him, those people were not to be trusted.

    I enrolled him in puppy kindergarten, where he learned basic commands, behaviors and made a friend, a gigantic Newfoundland with a heart that matched his body. The instructor, impressed with Buddy’s quick grasp of commands and party trick of dancing in circles on his toes, suggested we go through the process to become certified as a therapy dog. We completed the certification training and joined our local chapter of Therapy Dogs International. Initially thinking of the experience as a great way to beef up my college application, it became so much more.

    The Saturday mornings Buddy and I spent with people suffering from either the physical pain of disease or the equally debilitating pain of isolation changed my life. It provided a light at the end of the very dark tunnel I was unable to pull out of alone. The joy Buddy brought to them helped me find a way to love myself again, a feeling that for many years I thought would never be possible. When I would feel myself start to slip into obsessive thought patterns or depressive behavior, I would sit down, pat my legs, and he was always there. A therapy dog in every sense of the word.

    Buddy passed away peacefully ten years ago. I am now a mother of four children, something else I thought the anorexia had stolen from me forever. As we prepare to pick up our first family dog next month, the memories of the therapy dog that saved my life stay with me and give me hope that my children will know the healing love that I felt the moment that little ball of fluff made his home in my lap and my heart.

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