Meridian Star

April 28, 2013

Disney the Whippet brings joy to patients

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Among the many tail waggers on hand for the East Central Mississippi Kennel Club's Dog Fest 13 on Saturday was a 7-year-old Whippet named Disney, so named for a couple of spots on his side that kind of look like Mickey Mouse ears.

    But it's Disney's own ears and heart that make him special to his owner Jean Orcutt, who said Disney is a good listener, is faithful and friendly, which makes him a perfect therapy dog. In January, Disney began visiting patients at Bedford Care Home in Marion.

    "He has had at least two breakthrough experiences where he has gotten a response from patients that have been unresponsive to humans," Orcutt said. "He stands there and wags his tail and if they want to pet him, he will come up to their face and give them all the kisses they can handle."

    Orcutt said Disney reads the patients' emotions.

    "He can tell who may be a little afraid of him and those who want to reach out and want him in their face. He's just a natural at it."

    She said Disney works for about 30 minutes and when he gets tired, he plays with one of his toys for a while. English dog breeders bred the Whippet line from Greyhounds so they would have the Greyhound body on a smaller scale. Disney weighs 35 pounds, which is about average for an adult male Whippet, Orcutt said.

    "He'll go into the building and say 'woof'' and then he won't say anything else, but his tail will be wagging," Orcutt said. "A Whippet is a lot like a cat. They are very nice to live with and very quiet, very friendly."