Dutchess is a Golden Retriever who works with people with autism. Born in 2003, a hereditary illness claimed her
eyesight in 2011. Her loving owner Mark Condon is grateful that her gregarious personality remained unchanged
and she is able to continue her therapy work.

Winner 2013 Family Choice Award                         


Q & A

How old is Dutchess?

Dutchess was born on January 28, 2003.

How did Dutchess lose her vision?

In the summer of 2010, Dutchess began having difficulty with her eyesight. A visit to Dr. Cory Mosunic, veterinary ophthalmologist, confirmed that she had pigmentary uveitis, an inherited disease that involves inflammation of both eyes. It eventually becomes painful, and when prescription drops are no longer effective, removal of the eyes is the only way to alleviate the pain. Dutchess had her eyes removed on February 1, 2011. Except for catching a tennis ball in mid-air, there is nothing that she did before her vision loss that she cannot do now. She was delighted to return to her therapy dog work just three weeks after her surgery, and she is still the same happy, loving dog that she has always been.

Why does Dutchess’ paw print have three toes instead of four?

When Dutchess was a six-week-old puppy, she suffered a spider bite on a toe of her left front paw. The spider’s venom caused tissue damage that required surgery, leaving her toe “pulled up”. This is why the pad of that toe does not touch the ground when she walks.

What does Dutchess do as a therapy dog?

Dutchess works with children and adults with autism. In some cases, she visits classrooms and becomes part of a child’s reading class, assisting with speech goals or other academic endeavors. In other cases, she serves as a positive, calming element, soaking up the attention—and treats—that people give her, helping them ground their static energy and stress. Depending on the individual’s needs, a visit from Dutchess might involve walking, brushing, petting, and feeding her, reading to her, playing fetch with her, or just sitting quietly and enjoying her peaceful demeanor. Her friends with autism have not treated Dutchess any differently since her vision loss; likewise, she treats them with the same warm affection that she shares with everyone else that she meets. Here is a video of Dutchess and some of her canine friends at work.

What are Dutchess’ favorite pastimes?

Like many dogs, Dutchess loves playing fetch. Despite her blindness, she still relishes chasing and retrieving tennis balls in the yard. She uses her keen hearing and superb sense of smell to track down balls that are thrown for her. Here is a video of her playing fetch just one week after her surgery. She also enjoys the sport of K9 Nose Work. She has passed her first “ORT” (odor recognition test), and will be competing in her first trial in November, 2012. Her other favorite pastimes include eating, sleeping, meeting new people, and being showered with attention. She lives with one human and three cats in upstate New York.

Author Mark Condon
Mark Condon is an animal lover, New Jersey native, yoga aficionado, aspiring cellist, and professor of biology at Dutchess Community College. His research manuscripts have been published in various journals including Clinical Cancer Research and Molecular Carcinogenesis. He is co-founder and board president of the therapy dog organization Canine Link, and proud sponsor of a duck at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York. Mark and Dutchess live with three cats in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Dutchess the Dog
Dutchess has worked as a therapy dog in various settings including hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. She is especially fond of her work with individuals with autism. An inherited condition required the surgical removal of Dutchess’ eyes when she was eight years old. But her blindness has done nothing to dampen her joyful, gregarious personality, and she continues to relish her work as a therapy dog. Dutchess is also an advocate for animal rescue, serving as an ambassador for HeARTsSpeak™ and attending many adoption-related fundraising events. She is a certified member of Dog Scouts of America (troop #223, the Hudson Valley Howlers), and enjoys participating in the sport of K9 Nose Work®. In her spare time, Dutchess enjoys chasing tennis balls, taking walks around the neighborhood, eating, and sleeping. You can connect with Dutchess on Facebook (Dutchess the Dog), on Instagram (DutchessTheTherapyDog), and on Twitter (@DutchessTheDog).

Illustrator Sammy Schreiber
Sammy Schreiber graduated from Marist College with a B.S. in digital media. She is an avid dog lover, working professionally at a local dog boutique. She spends much of her free time with her dogs, Riley and Charlie.

Dutchess will make an appearance at the following!
Click on paw for more information.

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Saturday, October 5
Paws in the Park
Bowdoin Park, Poughkeepsie, NY

This is an annual event hosted by the Dutchess County SPCA. Come for the dog walk, vendors, and a day of fun for dogs and their humans, all for a good cause!

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Click on paws to view articles/videos!

Pawsh Magazine (March, 2013) article about Dutchess overcoming blindnes to continue her work as a therapy dog       
Yahoo News Story about Dutchess and Other Therapy Dogs Visiting Newtown, CT: 
Article in Bark Magazine March-May 2012:  
New York Times article featuring Dutchess and her work at The Anderson Center for Autism:  

Videos about The Anderson Center for Autism's therapy dog program:
Video 1: Therapy Dogs' Work at Anderson Center for Autism  
Video 2:
More of Dutchess' Work at Anderson Center for Autism  

Video 3: YNN News Story: Dutchess Helps College Students De-stress During Final Exam Week:  
American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology newsletter (see page 5): 
Article--and Dutchess' favorite cookie recipe--in The Whole Pet Diet newsletter: 



E-mail Dutchess at DutchessTheDog@earthlink.net

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