ISHPEMING — Some say a dog is a man’s best friend, this is especially true for a local volunteer who’s mission is to share joy with others through his dogs.

Cliff Heliste and his team of two Golden–Doodles volunteer for Pet Partners, an international organization that offers pet therapy to those who need it.

Heliste says, “Most people know that it’s voluntary, but someone’ll ask me, ‘So what do you get paid to do this?’ and I just go a smile. Just a smile, that’s what it’s all about.”

Therapy pets focus on interacting with others compared to service dogs, whose mission is to assist the owner. Pet owners can start the certification process for an initial fee when their pet is one–year–old.

Pet Partner Handle and Evaluator, Patty Cornish says, “What we’re looking for in a skills test is basic obedience, does the dog behave, and situational aptitude, meaning if I have five people come up to pet Bijou is he going to enjoy that interaction, and how is he going to behave?”

There is still room in the next Handler’s class, which is next Saturday, August 8th.

More information on SuperiorLand Pet Partners click here.