Bandit Earns Certification As Therapy Dog
By Gerry Ashley


OCEANSIDE, CA - It's long been known that the company of a pet is, by itself, some of the best therapy available when it comes to cheering up patients of all ages. But there are numerous concerns regarding exposure to animals that prevent owners from having pets available to them while in hospitals. There are now programs, however, to certify special dogs who meet certain stringent qualifications in order to legally visit  hospitals, acting as "Ambassadors of Good Cheer" for thousands of patients. The latest dog to be certified as such an Ambassador? San Diego's own "Bandit The Biker Dog."

"One of the things I've wanted to do for some time is get Bandit certified like this so we could visit kids in hospitals," says Mark Shaffer, Bandit's human companion. "I can't imagine anything more sad than a child who is confined to a hospital. Everywhere I go, little kids love to see Bandit whether he's on my Harley or just walking down the street with me dressed in his biker gear. So I figured, 'why not try to get Bandit certified to bring some joy to these kids who are stuck in a hospital?' I mean, if it puts a smile on their face, even for just a little while, it takes their mind off of their problems. And later, when they think back to meeting Bandit, it puts a smile on their faces. So I signed Bandit up for the certification course and after going through the course, Bandit passed with flying colors. So now we hope to work with local hospitals and nursing homes to bring a little joy into people's lives."

Shaffer added he's got some unique ideas he hopes to implement as part of Bandit's visits. "Bandit has his own little Harley that he rides and I'd love for him to be able to actually ride his little Harley into some of the places to visit kids if we can arrange that. I think that should bring a smile to just about anyone."  Be sure to check upcoming editions of Biker Dog News for new developments regarding Bandit and his "No Child Without A Smile" project." 

"Not only will Bandit be visiting children at hospitals", says Shaffer, "Bandit is currently making weekly visits on Sunday afternoons to the San Diego Hospice, located in Hillcrest." 

San Diego Hospice

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