ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The names Tom and Rose are well known for brightening the days of those at Anna Marie's Alliance, a nonprofit which helps women and children who have been hurt by domestic abuse.
Tom Harlander and his certified therapy dog, Rose, have made more than 200 trips in six years to visit children at the shelter.
"Tom is just so wonderful," said Kim Salitros, manager of volunteer services at Anna Marie's Alliance.
By the time Harlander goes to sign in at the front desk, Rose is usually trying to walk back to the small room she has visited kids in so many times.
Working at Anna Marie's is a difficult job, said Sandy Nadeau, director of development and communications, and it is good to have someone come in who can bring so much joy, St. Cloud Times reported.
"When I hear Rose, I just perk up," Salitros said.
Employees keep treats in their offices just for Rose. When Rose was unable to visit after a hip surgery, staff made her a get-well card.
Harlander, who also volunteers to drive women and children to the organization's holiday party, said the staff, the kids and the shelter all make volunteering great.
Harlander began bringing Rose to the nonprofit in July 2013.
As an 11-year-old Kuvasz, a Hungarian livestock dog, Rose weighs a little more than 80 pounds and can stand as tall Harlander.
Rose enjoys her visits so much, Harlander said, she always knows when it is Friday and "herds" him to leave the house.
Harlander can tell when the kids have had a rough day, he said, because she will go home and sleep.
"She just kind of feels it," he said. Harlander can see how the visits affect children.
One time Harlander brought Rose in and a child with autism was visiting with her. The child had never spoken much, he said, but when he saw Rose, he became excited and verbal.
It is one of Harlander's favorite moments from volunteering. "Rose brought out the best in him," he said.
Harlander spends between 10 minutes and an hour at each visit, or as long as the kids are interested. He teaches kids how to approach dogs, ask to pet them and interact with them.
"It's a learning experience for the kids," Harlander said. Rose is the first therapy dog he has had.
But Rose is great working with children.
Kids enjoy being able to walk underneath her, he said. Sometimes they want to touch her tongue or be close to her face. Rose is never phased, and the kids get excited when they see her.
Even at 11 — she had a pink cupcake to celebrate her birthday last month — Rose continues to enjoy the visits, Harlander said. He will continue to to bring her to the shelter as long as she is comfortable doing so.
"She steals your heart, doesn't she?" Nadeau said.
An AP Member Exchange shared by the St. Cloud Times.