Dog Day Afternoon For Royal Palm Beach Summer Campers

Officer Tania Heatherly introduces RPB campers to therapy dog Reggie.

The Royal Palm Beach Parks & Recreation Program’s Summer Camp has been keeping 72 young residents busy, entertained and safe with a variety of activities and events this summer.

Campers between the ages of 5 and 13 participate in a variety of sports, games, arts & crafts, and attend interactive programs that include dance, a magic show, science, pottery and game shows.

On Friday, July 16, however, the entire summer camp population went to the dogs. Well, perhaps it was more the dogs went to them, when a contingent of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office canines visited with the campers.

The PBSO’s therapy dog program brought an interactive show to the campers in Royal Palm Beach.

“They have community-oriented programs and presented a program of about an hour-and-a-half where they showed the campers how they trained dogs to overcome anxiety and to help people in need,” Camp Director Shawn Och said. “The dogs provide comfort and support to victims of trauma. They ended the program by letting the kids interact with and pet the dogs.”

Four therapy dogs attended the visit. There were three goldendoodles: Reggie (a one-year-old), Griffin (a two-year-old) and Willow (just eight months and still in training). One was a Catahoula leopard dog named Daya who is a year-and-a-half-old. They were all under the direction of PBSO therapy dog handlers Bill Feaman and Tania Heatherly.

“These same animals had been on standby to help with the Surfside condominium tragedy,” Och said. “The kids were very enthusiastic and excited to learn about the dogs. It was a genuine experience. You could see the excitement in their eyes.”

The dog team of Reggie, Griffin and Daya have successfully completed their 400-plus hours of training at the Paws & Stripes College in Brevard. The trio were all sworn in as official PBSO therapy dogs just two days previous to the presentation in a ceremony overseen by Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.