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About the Golden Horde


The Golden Horde Therapy Dogs is a free service (though love offerings to offset mileage expenses are accepted) provided to K-12 schools, colleges and universities, professional conventions, medical facilities, civic, and business organizations for the purpose of sharing the human-animal bond with all those who are interested.

All dogs are AKC registered, obedience trained, and certified by professional organizations as legal therapy animals.

Therapy dogs are not service dogs and do not have access as afforded under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All use of therapy dogs is by invitation only.

Learn how to request and schedule a visit below.

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  Therapy dog service is not what most people think about when they hear the word "therapy."  

Here's what it is and what it isn't.

Most interaction with a certified therapy dog is through what is called animal assisted activities (AAA). The activities are designed to encourage positive interactions between the human and the animal and strengthen the bond between the two.

This is very different from true animal assisted therapy (AAT) in which animals are used with a licensed therapist to help a client achieve a specific type of diagnostic goal. The animal is a critical element and increases the chances of success of the therapy designed by the therapist.



Credit: John Cross/Mankato Free Press

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Photo Credit: John Cross Mankato Free Press

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Classroom presentations allow participants the opportunity to learn about the work of therapy dogs, the difference between therapy and service dogs, and basic dog safety. This is particularly important for younger audiences. Elementary students enjoy reading to therapy dogs. Those who choose to and are allowed may have direct interaction time with the dogs.

Professional conference presentations focus on the origins of the use of animals as agents in the mental health process along with the pros and cons of such use in therapeutic settings. Members of the Golden Horde are available to "share the hair" when possible.

All presentations and interactions with therapy dogs are educational in nature, not therapeutic.

Interactions are animal assisted activities, not animal assisted therapy.


The Golden Horde has served the American Red Cross in a variety of capacities.  Murphy the Magnificent and Prairie of the First Generation Golden Horde served as respondents during disasters with the Southwest Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Currently, Tchoupitoulas Rose serves  as Lead Ambassador for the Southern Missouri Chapter and Missouri-Arkansas Region American Red Cross and its Animal Visitation Program. She is a regular visitor with the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Program.



Walter and Laurie Roberts are professional educators who retired in 2018 to return to their roots in the Ozarks Mountains of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Laurie was a classroom elementary teacher of grades K-5 in the public schools of Minnesota. Her specialty was teaching reading to students who found themselves struggling, in addition to providing educational assistance to immigrants in their efforts to meet the requirements for American citizenship.

Walter is a licensed mental health professional (LPCC Minnesota) who worked in both K-12 and university settings. His work revolved around violence prevention in organizational environments and crisis intervention. He has served as a disaster mental health responder with the American Red Cross since 2005.

History of the Golden Horde Therapy Dogs

     The First Generation


                                                                                                           The First Generation of the Golden Horde

                                                                                                     Therapy Dogs began with the rescue and

                                                                                                     adoption of Murphy the Magnificent in 2007.

                                                                                                     Heartworm positive and near death, Murphy

                                                                                                     recovered to earn his therapy dog

                                                                                                     certification in 2009. In 2010, Prairie (aka,

                                                                                                     Prairie Dog) joined the family. Another

                                                                                                     rescue, Prairie was a survivor of a puppy mill

                                                                                                     where he had been terribly abused. As a

                                                                                                     result, he suffered PTSD throughout the

                                                                                                     remainder of his life. Both Murphy and Prairie

                                                                                                     were two years of age at the time of their


                                                                                                          In 2012, Tchoupitoulas Rose ("Choppy" for short) came to the Golden Horde as a puppy. She was not a rescue. We wanted to have the opportunity to raise a future therapy dog who had not been exposed to hunger, abuse, or fear. Each member of the First Generation of the Golden Horde had a different personality based on their past experiences. Murphy was goofy and never met a person he didn't like. Prairie was the most obedient dog we have ever known and was always cautious due to his previous mistreatment. And Tchoupi? She's the Queen Diva of the House of Dog, having never known any of the ills that impacted her two brothers.

     In 2019, Murphy and Prairie died within five months of each other, both from old age. Murphy was 14 1/2. Prairie was 12. Suddenly, Tchoupitoulas Rose became the sole surviving member of the Golden Horde.


                                         The Second Generation

     After an extensive search for a new Golden Retriever to

rescue following the death of Murphy, fate took a strange and

wonderful turn. A vet tech at the veterinarian's office of the

Golden Horde knew of two 3 1/2 year old sibling Golden

Retrievers who would be available in the fall of 2019. As a

direct result of that connection, Minnie the Bear (aka

Little Bear) and Molly the Mischievous were adopted, marking

the beginning of the Second Generation of the Golden Horde.

Minnie and Molly are inseparable and are known by many

nicknames--the Golden Girls, the GGs, and, of course, M & M.

Both Minnie and Molly are currently in the process of

undergoing basic obedience training which will lead to their

AKC Canine Good Citizen test, the first step toward eventual

therapy dog certification.

     In the meantime, Tchoupitoulas Rose carries on the Golden

Horde tradition while the GGs meet the requirements they will

need in order to become full-fledged therapy dogs.

                                                                                    The Big News!

                                                                                      We are excited to announce that Miss Molly the                                                                                               Mischievous passed her full therapy dog                                                                                                                 certification exams in July of 2021 and is now joining                                                                                       the Grand Diva of All Dogs, Miss Tchoupitoulas Rose,                                                                                       in our Golden Horde Therapy Dogs visits. We are                                                                                               thrilled that Miss Molly has passed her tests and                                                                                                 look forward to the love she will be sharing with                                                                                                 everyone as we continue our work.

                                                                                      We have made the decision that Miss Minnie, our                                                                                           Little Bear, will likely not certify for therapy dog work                                                                                       due to her anxiety levels and will not be asked to go                                                                                         through the rigorous testing process. While                                                                                                         disappointed, we know that this is in Miss Minnie's                                                                                             best interest. Sometimes a dog just needs to be                                                                                               nothing but a dog. It's always important to recognize                                                                                       and respect what is best for our furry family                                                                                                         members, even when we would like it to be                                                                                                           otherwise. 

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             I had the pleasure of interacting with the Golden Horde a variety of times. I was so moved by their work. I truly believe that therapy dogs have the unique skill of speaking directly to a person's heart and responding to their emotions. I was so inspired by the Golden Horde that I decided to involve myself with therapy dog work. I am so grateful for the Golden Horde.

Samantha Gribben Ward

Licensed School Counselor

Elementary Grades

             The personality of those who are fortunate enough to become therapy pets is key to providing the sense of calm and connection that is vital to those under, sometimes unimaginable, stress.  The personality of the therapy pet handlers serves as the foundation upon which therapy animals learn to give comfort where needed.  You couldn’t find a more compassionate and empathetic pair than the handlers of the Golden Horde, Walter and Laurie Roberts.  From their careers in teaching (elementary school as well as higher education) through their volunteer work with the American Red Cross, the Roberts have dedicated their lives to help those in need.  And they have passed that duty to serve onto their own children, as well as to all the students whose lives they have touched. Their approach is student/patient centered. They have been a genuine

source for good in the world.

                                                   Judie Bjorling

Administrative Staff

Minnesota State University Mankato


          As a teacher of students with significant emotional and behavioral problems, I was so grateful to have the opportunity of Murphy and Prairie's classroom visits. My students were able to learn about empathy, compassion, perseverance, trust, and love. These experiences allowed them to practice their social skills and feel successful. 

        Even on days when the dogs weren’t there, we would refer to them to help the students think about how their choices would make others feel. Some students also kept the cards with the dogs’ picture as a calming tool to look at. I often prompted my students with “how would that make Murphy feel?” By referring to the dogs, students were more easily able to talk about difficult situations they encounter.

       Walter and Laurie are amazing to work with and their love for children is evident. Their dogs truly bring joy to students who unfortunately have had to endure many negative experiences. I will always be grateful for the time my class was able to spend with Murphy and Prairie.

Emily Seppman

Professional Educator

Elementary Grades


             I have had the honor of working beside the Golden Horde. They showed my dogs the ropes. Whether they were doing assisted living visits or calming anxious travelers at the airport, they see with their hearts and love everyone they come in contact with.

Margo McKay

Licensed School Counselor

High School Grades

Who Has Invited the Golden Horde to Be a Part of Their Lives?

This is a partial list of places that have invited the Golden Horde to visit through the years.

This is not a list of endorsements.

We will be glad to give you the contact information for individuals within any of these organizations who are familiar with the work of the Golden Horde if you have any need of references.

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If you are interested in a potential visit from the Golden Horde, send an email to

Please indicate the name of your organization, potential dates of desired visit, the nature of the work of your group, and the number of participants that are likely to attend.

Want to keep up with the daily happenings with the Golden Horde?

Murphy the Magnificent's Legacy provides the latest updates on life in the Dog House.

Click on the Facebook link or icon below and come join the fun!

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