Party time for a special dog


As July begins, many Rhode Island residents look forward to upcoming summer festivities; however, it’s not only people that have important celebrations to prepare for.

Sahara the dog, owned by Jacqie Lyman of Warwick, will be celebrating her 11th birthday this upcoming July 28. Lyman called the Beacon saying she wanted to do something special for Sahara and the Beacon suggested they stop in for an interview. As part of an annual tradition, Sahara will have a birthday party with her dog friends, complete with birthday gifts, outfits and special cupcakes prepared for canine consumption.

As at past parties, Sahara and her friends will enjoy playing and frolicking at Lyman’s residence, as well as watching Sahara eagerly bury her face into gift bags filled with treats. Over 10 other dogs attended the party last year, each receiving their own “pupcake” to celebrate.

Sahara is known to enjoy wearing costumes for special occasions. At her last birthday party, Sahara wore a bandana and crown to celebrate. She will again be donning a birthday outfit that expresses her excitement for the event, which Lyman selects for her each year.

Sahara will also be visiting the beach, one of her favorite places besides the local dog park. Though she is a Yellow Labrador, Sahara does not enjoy swimming as most members of her breed; instead, she simply prefers walking on the beach or lying down in the shallow water, according to Lyman.

Throwing parties isn’t all that Sahara does, though. She’s also a certified therapy dog that works with patients all over the state.

Lyman, a Toll Gate graduate of 2012, took upon Sahara’s training as part of her senior project. Sahara works with the Windwalker Humane Coalition, a pet therapy group stationed in Rhode Island that trains service animals and provides animal-assisted therapy to people all over the state.

As part of her job as a service dog, Sahara visits nursing homes to be brushed by residents, which encourages them to move and stretch their arms. Sahara also visits Butler Hospital to cheer up patients. Lyman, as a psychology major at URI, finds it fits well with her career choice.

Sahara also visits local libraries so children can read out loud to her, allowing them to improve their reading skills without the stress of reading to another person.

Lyman adopted Sahara when she was a puppy, after overhearing Sahara’s previous owners at a local park. When they said they would have to send the dog to the pound because they couldn’t care for it any longer, Lyman offered to take the dog in herself. The two have been inseparable ever since.

“She’s my best friend in the entire world,” wrote Lyman in an email.

Sahara does not bark often. However, any observer can tell she’s excited through her constantly wagging tail and energetic nature. All of her future birthdays will certainly be exciting, with her boundless enthusiasm and canine friends contributing to an unforgettable party.


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