Meet Abbey, a trained 4-year-old Maltese therapy dog and her owner/handlers, Roslyn Lindeman and Jennifer Town who live in Destin. Once a week, Abbey and the ladies help make the day a little better and brighter for child victims receiving services at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) in Niceville.

Both ladies worked together with accomplished careers as registered nurses, Town, a captain in the Navy Nurse Corps, and Lindeman, in Civil Service. Along with Abbey, the ladies completed 15 weeks of Basic, Advanced and Urbvan Pet and Handler Training at Pawtopia in San Diego, Calif. Abbey successfully passed the test as AKC Canine Good Citizen and became certified in February 2017.

Shortly thereafter, Abbey and her owners joined the Armed Forces YMCA Pet Therapy Program at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, visiting both inpatients and outpatients of all ages and illnesses. Per Naval records, Abbey and the ladies collectively registered 168 hours of Animal Assisted Therapy with an impressive estimated 7,500 staff, patient and visitor interactions for 2017.

All three retired to the Destin area last year and have become quite immersed in the caring world of volunteering to help others. According to the ladies, “We truly believe that Abbey was born to be a Therapy/Comfort Dog. Her disposition is such that just seeing, touching or being around her makes people comfortable and happy. No matter how young, how old, how happy or how sad they are, she seems to know exactly what to do.”

Currently Abbey visits and "works" at the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center in Niceville three hours a week. She is also part of the Pet Therapy Program at FWB/Valparaiso Airport where she meets and greets travelers. In her spare time, she is the local "ambassador" for tourists and residents alike in and around their home in Destin.

A total of nine therapy dogs and their owner/handlers are helping the kids at both centers. ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton Counties and restore the lives and futures of these impacted children and their families. For further information, visit www.eccac.org. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.