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Making a Difference: Friends, neighbors rally around ailing Sun Prairie therapy dog

The therapy dog gets therapy of his own
Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 6:00 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 8:51 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Service runs in the family for the Beamers of Sun Prairie. Jan and her husband Brian are veterans of the U.S. Navy, and their son serves in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Japan. Even their dog, Max, serves others as a therapy dog with Go Team Therapy Dogs Madison Chapter.

From kids going through a rough time, to lonely seniors, to first responders at the Sun Prairie explosion site, Max (a 6-year-old Rottweiler) has been a gentle friend. Jan said, “With Max, he’s a loving dog. He loves people…he loves to comfort people.”

She said a trainer spotted his “special personality” early on, and that counselors marvel at his ability to pick people out of a crowd who might need some comforting. Jan said, “It’s so neat to watch him work and to see the reactions that people have to him. You would have never thought that your dog could make that big a difference… until it’s your dog and you see they’re making a difference in many peoples’ lives.”

She said Max has made more than one thousand visits to people throughout his therapy dog career. She added, “Just watching him—observing him with people—if we would have the gentleness he has when we deal with people, it would make a big difference.”

For example, in the days after the Sun Prairie explosion, “Max would just go right up to the police officers, right up to the firefighters and just lean into them.”

As much as people enjoy seeing Max, he also loves seeing people. Since COVID, he hasn’t really been able to do his job. According to Jan, “When COVID hit, he started to mope around because he couldn’t go to see his friends.” He misses his visits to schools, counseling offices, and senior centers.

Then, last year Jan and Brian noticed Max limping, took him to the vet and discovered the bad news that the Rottweiler has bone cancer. He had a leg amputated and is now undergoing chemotherapy.

People are stepping up to help this dog who’s helped so many people over the years. Jan said, “After Max had his leg amputated, the neighbor kids started coming over and reading to Max because they thought HE needed cheering up. He loves it. His tail starts thumping. He just starts to smile and he’s just happy that he gets to read books again.”

This dog who has comforted so many others, is now the one being comforted. Jan added, “The therapy dog needed therapy.”

In addition to the neighbor kids coming over to read to Max, friends have set up a GoFundMe for Max’s medical care. The Beamers have received cards, messages, prayers and meals…and friends offer to watch or check in on Max when Jan and Brian are at work.

“We are amazed at the outreach people have had for Max. He’s helped so many people, and to see the people turn around and help Max has been unbelievable.”

Click here for information on Go Team Therapy Dogs of Madison.

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