My friend Holly was never a dog person, until, suddenly, she was. His name was Zeus, and he was a Bernese mountain dog who weighed 120 pounds by the time he was fully grown. She was crazy about him. One day, shopping for his food in the pet store, she saw a flier describing a pet therapy program in the schools of Hillsborough, N.C., near where she lives: people willing to bring their animals into the classroom. Holly and Zeus signed up.
The program required a high level of obedience training. Zeus had to get certified — training and evaluation to make sure he was gentle and unflappable. Holly was trained and tested, too, to demonstrate that she understood how to handle Zeus in the classroom. Finally they were ready to go into the schools.