Editor’s note: It’s no secret there are hard working dogs, cats and sometimes even more exotic pets you work hard. But while most are tending to traditional animal jobs, like herding cattle or mousing in barns, others are going to work with their owners and are performing “people” jobs at local stores, offices or job sites. Take Mia, who works with Leslie Christian bringing the kind of love, understanding comfort only a dog can give to those in need.

Name and occupation:
Mia is a 7-year-old “Lab mix” who, even though she was no pup, was exactly what Leslie Christian was looking for when she went shopping for a potential therapy dog at the local animal shelter. Today, Mia works part time. Her main job is at the Community Children's Shelter and Family Service Center, Inc.,  where Christian is the executive director. But the pair also share Mia’s exceptional talents at a local nursing home, area schools, and “upon request” at events.

Special talents:
It’s not hard to recognize Mia’s special talents. A single look into her compassionate brown eyes and one automatically knows, she knows from experience, what it’s like to be on the outside looking in for love, affection and acceptance. Having achieved licensed certified therapy dog status, Mia takes her mission seriously, but she isn’t bossy or overly zealous. She doesn’t overwhelm. She’s calm and quiet and will wait patiently for those who need time to realize she’s there to give them whatever they need — a head to pet, or maybe, just a warm body to lay at someone’s feet. Perhaps what’s needed is a dog who willing to  listen while a child’ reads aloud to them, uses them as a pillow or sits quietly by their side to ease their fear or kiss away tears. For however long is necessary, Mia will be there showing incredible patience, as well as kindness. It’s an indescribable unbiased acceptance and Mia freely gives it over and over and over.  
“Mia is the spokesperson (dog) for our agency. She’s the visual role model. She represents who we are and what we do. She’s important to our work,” Christian explains.

What makes Mia perfect for her people job?
Mia and Christian are an unequalled team — loyal to one another and the job at hand.
“We always greet all the kids (at the shelter). The children can pet Mia or talk to her. Part of what she offers is tactile. The children can touch her and draw comfort from rubbing a soft ear or petting her warm cushy coat,” Christian says.
Having worked as a therapy dog for a little more than a year, it’s obvious Mia graduated with honors. Therapy dogs are trained not to react to being pulled, pushed, poked or stepped on. It takes patience and understanding and Mia demonstrates she understands the importance of her role. She also draws on her maturity to teach new behavior skills to the children she serves.
“She’s a role model for coping skills,” Christian says.
As a part time employee, Mia has a canine partner who works on her days off. Next Monday meet Kori. The pair have totally different traits and the duo’s personalities compliment each other in ways that show the pair was meant to work together.

If you have or know of a dog or cat or other pet that works a people job let us know. Send an email to yournews@ardmoreite.com with the animal’s name, the name of the owner and where the special dog or cat works and contact information.