Albert was found wandering on the streets of Livermore one evening in August 2002. Pat Wheeler had been out doing some errands and was heading home when she saw him in the street about half a mile from her house. At first, she thought it was her Black Lab, Lawrence, and was wondering how on earth he got out of the house. She pulled over and opened the back of her car. Albert dashed over, jumped in, and started licking Pat’s face. No one nearby knew to whom he belonged, and he only had a rabies tag. So Pat took him home to call Animal Control and the veterinarian’s office where he got his rabies tag. As soon as she walked into the house with him, he and her dog, Lawrence, were best buddies.
Pat left a message for the veterinarian. Animal Control said they had no one available to pick him up now and asked if she would keep him until someone could come by to get him next week. The next morning, she got a call from the veterinarian’s office. Albert’s temporary owners were out of town and the pet sitter lost track of all their animals (they had, as Pat recalls, four other dogs and four cats). The pet sitter came to pick him up, and she saw how sad both he and Lawrence looked as she put Albert into her car.
The next evening, the owners arrived home. They called Pat and said they had been trying to find a home for Albert. While camping on the north coast of California, they had been given Albert by a homeless family that couldn’t afford to keep him. Pat instantly agreed to come and pick him up. Lawrence and he became the best of buddies, and Albert brought lots of joy to her household.
Albert started as therapy dog at the VA in Livermore in May 2005. By 2010, he had given 750 hours of service at the VA and was promoted to “Captain” by Navy veterans for these hours of service and for helping Lawrence oversee the “Petting Officers” and their handlers. By July 2013, he had over 1,000 hours at the VA.
In February 2006, he was welcomed as the first therapy dog ever at Shepherd’s Gate in Livermore. This is a shelter for battered and homeless women and children. At the end of his first year, Albert earned the “Volunteer of the Year” award at Shepherd’s Gate.
Starting in September 2006, Albert went to Easy Living Care Home sites two or three times a month, participated in parades (e.g., Livermore Rodeo Parade, Veterans Day Parade), and attended Welcome Home Celebrations and other military events. He also went to the Amador Tri-Valley Center, the Castro Valley Healthcare Center, and Livermore Valley Senior Living. He participated in several Welcome Home Celebrations for our troops and other military events and visited the children at Camp Arroyo.
Albert passed away on January 4, 2014, two weeks after his good buddy Lawrence died. When Lawrence went to Doggie Heaven, Albert stopped eating. Although Albert had cancer, Pat had hoped he would keep going for a while. But that was not to be. Albert so badly wanted to be with Lawrence again. Albert was by Lawrence’s side when he died and having been through many experiences with people dying, Albert apparently knew what was happening.
Albert was an AKC Canine Good Citizen, AKC Canine Partner, and AKC Therapy Dog. His favorite command was WORK. He wouldn’t wake from a sound sleep to the words “treat” or “walk,” but jumped up instantly at the word “work.” We think Albert was a Border Collie/Black Lab mix, born in the spring of 2001. The Border Collie in him sure made him focus on work. He did a fabulous job as a therapy dog. When not working, he loved to watch out the window keeping an eye on everything, to chase squirrels, and to go for walks with Pat’s granddaughters.
For more on Albert, go to this site—
Based on Albert’s bio in Successful Tails: The Wonders of Therapy Dogs by Patricia H. Wheeler, p. 303-304.