Stormy Bear – Project Pup, handler Kim
Adopted at age four in 2013, Stormy continues to amaze his Mom with his calm demeanor. “I was looking for a volunteer opportunity for myself and discovered Project Pup – how perfect that I could spend time with my rescue dog and help others at the same time,” reports Kim. “Stormy Bear joined my family five years ago after my Bullmastiff, Ringo, died suddenly from cancer. My black lab mix, Lily, stopped eating. When I told Dr. Julie White that I wasn’t ready for another dog since I was still heartbroken, she told me some dogs NEED a buddy and Lily was one of them. With that, she called GRRMF and the rest, as they say, is history! Fast Forward five years- Stormy Bear is my cuddle buddy, my best friend, and my baby boy.
Stormy is a true Golden- in that he enjoys attention- once you start petting him you can’t just stop…he will use his paw to hit your hand or nuzzle his head under your elbow until you give in. He’s super playful at home but very relaxed in public. He turns heads wherever we go since he’s “different.” In public, he’s on his best behavior unless there’s food involved and then all bets are sadly off the table. Stormy loves other dogs, too, especially my parents’ rescued Golden, Gunner. They have play dates often and when Gunner spends the night I sometimes have to separate them because they just don’t stop playing!
Stormy loves when people talk to him, which is part of the reason we visit nursing homes. He’s so calm – you can pull his tail, tap his nose, play with his ears and his tail never stops wagging. Because of his easy-going demeanor, Stormy needed no extra training to become certified with Project Pup – he’s a natural born therapist! Every Sunday somehow Stormy knows it’s his work day at Arden Courts of Seminole, a memory care center. He wakes up extra early and tap dances around with his paws until he sees me get his leash. Watching the residents’ faces light up when he prances in week after week is priceless. One resident used to be a veterinarian and it’s really touching to see her examine his eyes, ears and teeth like it’s second nature to her. When Stormy and I missed one week, a resident who used to give him tight hugs and laugh with him, looked at me and said, “where were you – I missed the dog.” That same day her daughter showed up and saw Stormy and was so surprised to learn that he really existed. Her mom had gone on and on about petting a dog and she had no idea Stormy was her mom’s new best friend! The joy that Stormy brought to her each week is the reason we love visiting. The staff is amazing and we always leave smiling.
During exam week, Stormy does therapy visits at the University of South Florida and University of Tampa campuses providing stress relief and even befriended Pete the Therapy Llama with a golden kiss at the last Paws & Relax event. He is also a member of the Golden Gang, a group of goldens who make holiday visits to Regal Palms in Largo. Stormy LOVES making people smile so much that I sometimes have to bribe him to get my car when it’s time to go!
Stormy is somewhat famous – anyone want a Paw-To-Graph?? He was featured in a few National Ashley Furniture Black Friday commercials this year and their online campaign. In one, he’s at the “tail end” literally jumping off the bed and running towards the camera. Funny thing is, that was the first take and he was supposed to stay on the bed for beauty shots. Check him out jumping off the bed in the Ashley Commercial! In the other he’s “stealing” a present- which by the way smelled like the hot dogs inside… It certainly wasn’t acting- he just had to look adorable and play with the present!
“Here’s my Public Service Announcement – if you don’t have insurance, get it. Stormy is my poster child for pet insurance. I used to have a mango tree and Stormy loved eating mangoes, until the massive pits lodged in his intestines and nearly killed him. Emergency surgery cost $4,900. Nationwide pet insurance paid $3,500. Then there was the time when he got into the medicine cabinet and nearly poisoned himself. That was a $2k stay at the Animal ER.”