text and photograph by Juli Leonard
Currituck, a 9-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever that works as a therapy dog, has a special kind of power. With his golden brown eyes, soft coat, and gentle nature, the dog has a soothing presence that calms and enchants young children. The impact he has is more than extra-curricular.
“Once a teacher cried after hearing a student read to Currituck,” says proud owner Linda Sparrow, who trained him. “She had never even heard the student speak before.”
Currituck is currently a regular at Raleigh’s Root Elementary, visiting students in kindergarten through third grade, and he does various other events when called upon. “He does a happy dance when his therapy vest comes out,” Sparrow says. “When we get to school, the tail is just wagging with anticipation.”
As a member of a family with nine grandchildren, he “loves a crowd of children,” Sparrow says. The family has had a number of Chesapeakes over the years, but Currituck is the first to become a therapy dog.
“We named him after the county where he is from, and the name means ‘wild geese,’ ” she says, but the only thing he hunts is the newspaper each morning.
“He is beloved, a treasure.”