Kol sat motionless on the lawn of the juvenile rehabilitation center, looking into the eyes of the troubled girl, who suddenly began telling the dog about her problem-filled past.
“This girl hadn’t been willing to talk to therapists, but for the last month she’d been building a relationship with Kol, training the dog daily as part of her rehabilitation,” says Kol’s owner Donna McDermott, a breeder in Seattle and president of the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America. “Kol’s story is not an unusual one, though. Icelandic Sheepdogs make great therapy dogs because they bond so strongly with people. They’re very sensitive to people’s emotions and needs.”
A hardy, agile herding breed, the Icelandic Sheepdog arrived in Iceland with Viking settlers during the ninth and 10th centuries. The dogs’ ability to drive, herd, and protect livestock — jobs they performed by barking — made them a vital tool for farmers.
Want to read the full story? Pick up the January 2009 issue of DOG FANCY today, or subscribe to get 12 months of articles just like this.