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My name is Sheila Parker. I have been employed with Childhelp since May, 2017 at the Alice C. Tyler Village as a Community Liaison, as well as, providing case management. I would like to tell you about Nelli and Cody. Nelli is a 9-year-old Golden Retriever. She was adopted when she was three months old and cared for by a lady who provided unconditional love and the best of care for Nelli and all of her animals. Nelli was special from the get go having been born on 12-12-12. Unfortunately, her owner passed away in early January 2020. The lady’s family was not interested in caring for Nelli and another dog, and should a home not be found for them, they were going to have them put to sleep. A mutual acquaintance shared this information with my husband and I and we decided to give them both a home.

To my knowledge, Nelli never received any formal training. She is naturally a sweet, smart and loving dog who wants nothing more than to be with people and be “loved” on. I knew that Nelli would be a perfect therapy dog. Therefore, I did my research and on June 18, 2022, Nelli was evaluated and passed her AKC Good Dog Citizenship assessment with ease.

Two weeks later, I started taking Nelli, one day a week, to the Village. In consulting with our Medical Director, Dr. Ralph Chester, he informed me of the children that would most benefit from spending time with Nelli. Our educational team also indicated which children that would benefit reading to Nelli in order to improve their reading skills. One of the children that was recommended was Cody.

Cody is 10-years-old and has been in the foster care system for a number of years and is in need of a forever home. Although his parents’ parental rights have been terminated, Cody has insisted that he was going to return to live with them and he did not want another mom or dad. Cody has sabotaged any prospective foster to adopt home situation introduced to him as a result. As Cody’s Childhelp case manager, I was familiar with Cody and his situation. Cody would rarely speak more than a few words at a time with me. When I introduced him to Nelli, he began petting her and asking me general questions about Nelli. When he came the question of where did I get her, a light clicked on within me. I told him that I had adopted Nelli after her previous owner had passed away and that if a home was not found, she would have been put to sleep. I told him that felt that every dog should have a home where someone could provide a roof over their head, feed them and take care of them. I told him that he was just like Nelli, in that he needs a family that could provide him with the same things and that he should think of having a family in that way. He agreed to do that. Since then, he has been open to finding his forever home.

Whether it was due this conversation or not, I believe Nelli is the reason for his change of heart. Each week when I visit, Cody makes sure he pets Nelli, even for just a few seconds, and to say hello. Nelli certainly knows how to share her love of a child.