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The Original Golden Horde
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, Canine Good Citizenship obedience trained, and certified by professional therapy dog organizations.

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.

We follow the medical protocol of all visiting facilities.

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 the Golden Horde 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.

Tchoupitoulas Rose served  as Lead Animal Ambassador for the Southern Missouri Chapter and Missouri-Arkansas Region American Red Cross and its Animal Visitation Program from 2020 until her passing in 2023. She was a regular visitor with the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Program. Today, Miss Molly has taken on the ambassadorship responsibilities and is working to establish a region-wide Animal Visitation Program for the SAF unit of the Missouri-Arkansas Red Cross.



Walter and Laurie Roberts are professional educators with decades of experience who retired in 2018 to return to their roots in the Ozark 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  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.

Who We Are:
A 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 ("Miss Choppy" for short) came to the Golden Horde as a puppy from a small breeder in Minnesota. 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 was 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 and Lead Dog 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 passed Canine Good Citizenship basic

obedience training in 2020. 

     In the meantime, Tchoupitoulas Rose carried on the Golden

Horde tradition while the GGs worked to meet the

requirements they would need in order to become full-fledged

therapy dogs.

                                                                                    The Big News!

                                                                                      Miss Molly the Mischievous passed her full therapy    d                                                                                dog certification exams in July of 2021 and joined  the                                                                                     Grand Diva of All Dogs, Miss Tchoupitoulas Rose,                                                                                               in our Golden Horde Therapy Dogs visits. We were                                                                                             thrilled when Miss Molly passed her tests, particularly                                                                                     in light of her past mistreatment. She remains shy in                                                                                       her interactions with people, but is a shining example                                                                                     of how it is possible to overcome challenges with hard                                                                          work and the support of a loving family.


                                                                                        The decision was made not to test Miss Minnie, our                                                                                     Little Bear, for therapy certification due to her                                                                                                   anxiety level. While we were disappointed, we knew

                                                                                   then, and are even more convinced now, that it was in                                                                                     Miss Minnie's best interest. Sometimes a dog just                                                                                               needs to be a dog and nothing else! It's always                                                                                                     important to recognize and respect what is best for our                                                                                     furry family members, even when we would like                                                                                                 things otherwise. 

                                                                     Sad and Unexpected Changes

     The following is an excerpt from a tribute by the American Red Cross of Missouri-Arkansas on the unexpected passing of the Divine Diva of All Dogs...

      A shining star has left us.

      Because many of you in the Missouri and Arkansas Red Cross Region had the chance to meet and interact with her, we wanted to share that Miss Tchoupitoulas Rose (“Miss Choppy”), the Divine Diva of All Dogs, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on Friday, February 24, after a rapid onset of the final stages of hemangiosarcoma. To say we were caught off guard is an understatement. Her symptoms came on suddenly and without other clues which is common with the cancer. In a week, she was gone. Mercifully, she felt no pain during her final days as she made preparations to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.


     Miss Choppy is the last of the original three Golden Horde Therapy Dogs. She served a total of seven years as a Red Cross volunteer, four years in Missouri and Arkansas, and three years while she lived in Minnesota.

     A prankster, she relished the attention when the vest came on to go to work. It was one of the few times she agreed to show off what few tricks she knew. Miss Choppy gave the Red Cross tremendous service in multiple states, particularly with our Service to the Armed Forces initiatives. She made goodwill visits to veterans’ homes, stand downs, resource events, resilience education, blood drives, and was lead dog in helping to regenerate the Missouri-Arkansas Region’s Animal Visitation Program. Patients and staff loved her hospital work, too, especially in the cancer treatment center and emergency room. She was one of the inaugural dogs in the establishment of the therapy dog program at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Miss Choppy had a special bond with kids, the younger the better. Trips to schools, pediatric dentists, and the Ronald McDonald House were her favorites. To say she interacted with thousands of people is not an exaggeration.

     Miss Choppy never met a stranger. She never growled or barked in anger. She never had a fight with another dog, not even when they tried to get her to do so. She was pure love. Pure. Love. We miss her greatly but find solace in the knowledge that she is now back with rescued Golden brothers Murphy the Magnificent and Prairie Dog, chasing squirrels and each other through the clouds. We are fortunate to have her Golden rescued sisters, Minnie the Bear and Molly the Mischievous, here with us to help ease the loss, but they, too, understand the meaning of Miss Choppy’s empty vest and collar hanging in its place by the steps.

     We want to thank all of you who had the opportunity to meet and share your love with Miss Choppy over her nearly ten years in Minnesota and Missouri. Miss Molly now steps up to carry her legacy forward in service....

                                                                  The Birth of the Third Generation

     Totally caught off guard by the passing of Tchoupitoulas Rose, the Lead Dog responsibility fell to Miss Molly who struggled to understand her responsibilities as a solo on therapy visits. Quite frankly, she was depressed and struggled for nine months to find her place. There were also some medical challenges that she had to overcome. It was a struggle for all of us. Because of her prior mistreatment before rescue, she retreated to her "shy stance" in presentations. But fate had other plans for Miss Molly and the future of the Golden Horde.

     In spite of the intention to take time out to focus on assisting Miss Molly to move into her new Lead Dog position and search for another rescue Golden option, shortly after Miss Choppy's journey across the Rainbow Bridge a rare opportunity developed when a one-time-only litter of AKC Golden puppies became available with a local family. And just like that, the Third Generation of the Golden Horde began when Jocko and Iko came into our lives. Round-the-clock training began immediately upon their arrival in hopes of therapy certification by 2024. In August of 2023, the pair passed their AKC Canine Good Citizenship tests. 

      The inspiration of Jocko and Iko inspired Miss Molly so that she gradually emerged from her sadness and confusion over the disappearance of Miss Choppy. Today, while still cautious, she continues to recover and has regained and shown signs of recovering the puppyhood she never had in her interactions with Jocko, Iko, and Minnie the Bear.


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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

Retired 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.

It 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.

Home: Testimonials

Golden Horde Therapy Dogs LLC understands the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts on families, children, and pets. We strongly support the efforts of the Purina Purple Leash Project and Red Rover Crisis Centers.
For Help, Call the Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.

Home: Contact


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

Please place Therapy Dog Visit in the subject line, 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.

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