By Ashley McCardia
As a really big superhero buff, I am pretty excited to share a special kind of dynamic duo. I’m talking about a team made up of an adorable Labrador Retriever named Chief and his special person, Yvonne. Their days are spent helping this community. Anyone involved in their “quiet counsel” will agree. They are real deal superheroes!
A married mother of two adult daughters, Yvonne McAlpin is a bubbly, open and sincere woman with a sincere heart for service. You can hear the pride in her voice when speaking about Chief and what they do together. A conversation with Yvonne leaves one feeling inspired to do good, as her passion is infectious. As a Wish Granter for Make a Wish and a dog therapy volunteer, Yvonne provides comfort to people in her community with help from her companion of 3 years, Chief.
A playful puppy with tons of love to give, Yvonne saw early on that Chief would be a great therapy dog candidate. He began training at six months old. Now a pro at his job of comforting and encouraging, while Chief does enjoy a good swim or game of fetch in his down time, he is laser focused on the needs of his kids. Much like the high schoolers they serve, Yvonne and Chief are up with the sun, going to class on time and socializing during passing periods. Chief enjoys lunch in the courtyard where he meets new friends and spreads his puppy love. Humble, yet so proud of her companion, Yvonne jokes that she is essentially Chief’s manager. He is the star and she is simply his chauffeur and chef. “I don’t take the credit for it,” she says. “I dont do the work. I am just his handler and he does the magic.”
The pair are spending the majority of their time lately at MSD. After the terrifying event on February 14th, many on campus were left shaken and unnerved. The students are in need of solace; so Yvonne and Chief have made it their mission to comfort them. Therapy dog teams like Chief and Yvonne have become sort of a staple at the school, even winning a collective award from the City of Parkland! Students who are suffering can request a dog through their school counselor. Having Chief around has provided children another avenue for coping and moving forward.
Yvonne’s focus has always been to enhance the lives of the people around her, but what happened in Parkland only grew her desire to do something positive. Much like our favorite superheroes, Yvonne saw hurting people and ran toward them, ready to help. When asked if that day changed her focus regarding the duo’s therapy services, she replied, “Because every day is a gift, I want to do whatever possible to brighten someone’s day.” Her enthusiasm and optimism are an encouragement to everyone around her. Yvonne’s heart paired with Chief’s undeniable love for humans is making an impact every day.
If you would like to contact Yvonne with questions regarding therapy dogs feel free to email her at [email protected]