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Meet Harvey, Chicago’s Most Lovable Therapy Dog

February 3rd, 2021

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Harvey is a six-year-old Goldendoodle and a therapy dog. He is loved and adored by many not just for his dashing good looks, but for many other reasons. We will try our best to list them all, but that would be quite a long read!

Harvey’s main service is to provide psychological and physiological therapy to people in times of stress and support them in all the ways he knows how. Harvey has a soft spot for children. Working with kids makes him happy, which he shows with his charming smile. He also helps people from all age groups build and practice social and communication skills. Soothing those who suffer from physical, sexual, and, or psychological trauma is his specialty.

Chicago therapy dog

Harvey has worked with Michael Altobelli, for years now. During this time, Michael has seen incredible progress with his patients as a result of Harvey’s loving companionship and his intelligence.

“I have seen numerous positive impacts on his and my patients, such as improving child development, and improving communication and social skills,” he said. “Harvey is also extremely well-trained when it comes to helping trauma victims. The trauma victims struggle with intense emotions, and while they process the trauma, discomforting emotions often arise.”

What’s his secret? How do you properly support victims of abuse and trauma? The answer might sound simple, but it means so much to the patients. And it might be how dogs earned their nickname: man’s best friend.

“Harvey is able to quickly calm them down throughout the therapy process by grounding them and nurturing them with unconditional love and affection, which allows the patients to stay in the present and attend to their emotions,” Michael says.

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Harvey (right) and his owner Michael Altobelli (left)

Harvey is also quite the foodie. He loves all treats, particularly whimsies, jerky, all things peanut butter, dog biscuits, and natural bones. His favorite, however, is anything Dad and Mom (Michael and his wife) eat! That is, of course, as long as it’s food Harvey can safely have.

It has been an unforgettable journey for Michael ever since he first met Harvey and brought him home.

“Harvey met my wife and me 6 years ago at Knapp Kennel in Xenia, Illinois,” he said. “My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was on the waiting list to provide a loving home to a lucky Goldendoodle puppy.

It was a beautiful warm winter day on January 24, 2015, when we took the drive down to pick out our new puppy. My wife and I walked up to the litter of pups filled with Harv’s brothers and sister, and Harvey was the first puppy to climb the gate to play and tug on my jeans.

I picked him up to cuddle and play with him. The connection was instantaneous. Right there and then my wife and I both agreed that he was the pup for us.

Little did we know the dramatic impact Harvey would have on our lives and our relationship. He made us a family and helped my wife and I see that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Harvey’s support is undoubtedly crucial for Michael’s patients. But his work doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s refined right at home.

“Harvey was there when my wife and I moved in together to our townhome in Hanover Park,” said Michael. “He was there through my darkest days when he and my wife nurtured me back to health after I broke my back in a freak ladder accident; he was my physical therapy companion and helped me walk again; he was there to keep my spirits up and my mind sharp through grad school; he was there to celebrate my proposal to my wife and to tie the knot at the wedding, and he was there when we bought our first home this past March. I can’t wait for him to be there for the birth of my first child, my daughter, and help us in welcoming his new sister home!

One story does not do justice in explaining the special connection I have with my best friend, it’s the life we’ve shared together. He is the best friend anyone could ask for.”

Therapy Dog

Harvey is also a social butterfly who loves meeting new people and his fellow canines. He very much enjoys the outdoors and loves to swim in the summer and run around in the snow during the winter. While he awaits the arrival of his new baby sister, Harvey has been preparing in the most “dog" way possible… by stealing and cuddling her stuffed animals.

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