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Working Like A Dog: Therapy Dog Troupe Performed The Nutcracker


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As the Christmas season comes close, in many places it is possible to enjoy the Nutcracker performed by countless ballet companies. However, last weekend, at Herrick Middle School in Downers Grove IL located in the outskirts of Chicago, a special production with 29 dogs of different breeds delighted the audience during all of its three presentations. 

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The performers are part of the PAWSitive Therapy Troupe, a group of trained therapy dogs who volunteers in both health care and educational institutions. They assist with physical therapy and provide solace to those affected by illness, loneliness or  tragedy. This initiative started in 2000 and was repeated every year thereafter increasing its success to the point of selling all its 1,950 tickets in only a few hours in 2011, and becoming quickly sold out for all shows this year.

Therapy dogs are essentially family pets with a volunteer mission. They are not professional animals performers. In the case of the PAWSitive troupe, they add the task of dressing up are wearing different costumes as well as rehearsing The Nutcracker to their routine of comforting those in need. The money raised is used to pay the training that PAWSitive offers to its future four-legged therapists to work in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health centers, and schools.

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The canine ├ętoiles were Gracie, a Sheltie who plays Sugar Plum Fairy, Bailey, a Shih Tzu as the Nutcracker Prince, Sam, a Golden Retriever who plays the role of the Mouse King, and Lily, a Pug interpreting Clara. The rest of the troupers were, among others, a Maltese, a Chihuahua, a Border Collie, and a Cocker Spaniel. Together with their human partners, all of the sweeties made this Nutcracker version possible and allowed the public to enjoy watching their adventures in The Land of Sweets.
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