Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

WILTON, Iowa–As Madeleine Drake-Metzger started looking for a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor given by the organization, she wanted to find a project that really mattered. After working with her family to foster two rescue dogs, she realized she could take that experience one step further. She remembers, “one night, my mom and I were talking about what I should do for my Gold Award project, and we thought, what if I trained a rescue to be a therapy dog?”

Smitten with the idea, Madeleine reached out to It Takes a Village Animal Rescue and Resources Founder Meagan Koehler and shared her project idea with her. Koehler liked the project just as much as Madeleine did and helped her start working with Buddy, a one-year-old mastiff.

As soon as Madeleine started working with Buddy, she saw that he had the perfect disposition for a therapy dog. His even and friendly temperament allows him to get along well with people, an essential trait for therapy dogs who, along with their owners, visit people in places such as schools, long-term care facilities, and hospitals to give them comfort and companionship.

Since bringing Buddy to her home, Madeleine has worked with him on basic obedience and taken him to public places so that he gets used to crowds and loud noises, taking them in stride. Though training a therapy dog takes a lot of work, Madeleine has had a lot of fun with the process. “The most enjoyable part about this project is probably seeing people smile so much when they see Buddy,” she shared. “Especially when someone is having a bad day, all it takes is Buddy walking in the room and they smile, which makes me so happy.”

Madeleine has set a goal of completing Buddy’s training and having him take his therapy certification test this summer. Madeleine looks forward to this accomplishment and the good he will do for Muscatine County throughout his lifetime. “I am so excited to be helping out the community by doing this,” she enthused. “It truly is a great experience, and I love knowing that Buddy will be able to make a difference in many people’s lives!”

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