Cowboy the Dog

Meet Cowboy

At The Meadows Ranch, it’s hard not to notice that one member of our clinical team is a little, well, “hairier” than the rest. That’s Cowboy, our facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence. While he may look just like a sweet family pet, facility dogs are expertly trained canines that partner with a facilitator working in a professional setting (in this case that’s handler Cheryl Musick, TMR’s Wellness Coordinator). Canine Companions facility dogs are trustworthy in a professional setting and can perform over 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire patients.

Therapy or Facility Dog, What’s the Difference?

Any pet that has permission to enter a facility such as a hospital to provide comfort or joy to patients or clients can be classified as a therapy dog. These animals are sometimes associated with a therapy dog organization that requires some class work or passing a basic obedience test before entering a facility, but there are no national standards for the training of therapy dogs. While both types of dogs provide comfort, facility dogs are bred and extensively trained to play a very specific service role. 


Canine Companions

Facility Dog Fast Facts:

  • Specially bred for this line of work
  • When on campus, Cowboy is required to wear his vest to identify him as a working facility dog
  • Skills include walking safely on a leash near assistive or medical devices
  • Partnered with a facilitator who directly serves clients with special needs
  • Tasks they are trained to perform are used to help motivate/rehabilitate clients
  • Certified by Assistance Dogs international
  • Facility dogs undergo a two-year specialized training program
  • Knows over 40 unique commands
  • Facility dog handlers have gone through a full-time, two-week training program
  • Facility dogs are expected to maintain the same standards as service dogs
  • Facility dogs are never allowed to roam the facility unattended
  • Facility dogs are working, even when they may not look like they are
Cheryl and Cowboy

Cowboy On Campus

Cowboy lives with his handler, Wellness Coordinator Cheryl Musick, who is responsible for his care, including food, grooming, veterinarian visits, and ongoing training. Facility dogs like Cowboy can help patients learn communication skills, experience anxiety reduction, stress management, and improved mood.

Patients can request a private session with Cowboy through their primary therapist. He is also present during many Expressive Art sessions and Games & Activities groups. Between sessions, he can be found resting in the Facility Dog Suite (aka the wellness coordinator’s office) located in the Mountain View building.


Get Answers to Your Questions

If you or a loved one would like to know more about eating disorder treatment at The Meadows Ranch, give us a call to speak to one of our trained intake coordinators. We’re here to help.

Call 866-390-5100