Lucy the six-inch-tall therapist: world’s smallest working dogPetzolo Team
Meet Lucy, the world’s smallest therapist.
The adorable Mini Yorkshire terrier stands at just 5.7in tall, is only 7.5in long and 2.9lbs in weight.
Together with owner Sally Montufar, a college teacher from Vineland, New Jersey, she visits the vulnerable, sick and disabled in the area. They claim a cuddle with her makes their problems temporarily go away, and insist that she even knows when something is wrong.
The tiny fluff ball travels around South Jersey to visit the vulnerable, sick and disabled-a welcome distraction in their lives
Sally said: ‘Lucy is a wonderful therapy dog because she seems to have some kind of empathetic disposition. She is calm, she is sweet, she will cuddle and she’ll sense when something is wrong. ‘We go to lots of schools, children’s hospitals and nursing homes and rehab hospitals. If someone asks we’ll go.
Whether they are students with anxiety, in the hospital, rehab, or a nursing home, she just shows up and they get calm and comfortable and that’s what her superpower is!’ One student whom the four legged therapist has helped is 22-year-old student, Dino. Suffering from anxiety issues since a teenager, Dino meets regularly with Lucy and Sally.
Dino said: ‘A lot of times when I have my anxiety attacks I can’t really concentrate and when I’m with Lucy I’m able to rethink things and keep a calm, collected mood.
‘When I’m holding Lucy, I feel that all of my problems just go away. It’s kind of like I’m in a dream. It’s a very specific feeling – kind of like taking medicine.’
Hitching a ride? Lucy plays with Cooper the Great Dane-a dog therapy colleague. The record holder for tallest dog was a Great Dane called Zeus, who died in September 2014, that measured 111.8 cm
The Yorkshire Terrier at home in Vineland next to a can of juice. Her diminutive stature is all the more evident when stood next to objects. Owner Sally, 60, believes Lucy’s diminutive size makes her more approachable than other dogs.
She said: ‘Children that are not afraid of dogs won’t be afraid of Lucy because she is so little. She is very unintimidating. She’s helped a lot of people.
‘She just shows up and they get calm and comfortable and that’s what her superpower is!’
Sally recalls a young girl with selective mutism who used to be so afraid of Lucy she would stand as far away as possible from the dinky dog.
She said: ‘Little by little she came closer and closer and she started to speak to us and after a long time, she got very close and started to pet Lucy and then she started to take Lucy’s leash and walk her around the school.
Sally Montufar and her minuscule pet. Sally gave Lucy a home after a animal rescue volunteer came into the shop in which she worked with a bag of puppies
‘I feel that all of my problems just go away. It’s kind of like I’m in a dream,’ said patient Dino on visits by Lucy ‘The last time I saw her she was bringing other children with similar problems over and she held her. That was a high point for me.’
On visits, Sally dresses up her pet pooch in bows, collars and tutus – and she’s also taught Lucy a dance routine.
She explained: ‘She twirls, she lays down she walks like a turtle, she jumps, she goes through leap holes, she goes through tunnels – anything to entertain you.
‘However, Lucy has what I call “Yorkitude”. There are times she refuses, and that gets the biggest laugh from the audience.’
As well as her solo visits Lucy also partners up with fellow pet therapy dog Cooper – a Great Dane five times bigger than little Lucy.
Cooper towers above his canine colleague and the two cause quite a stir when together – especially when Lucy sits on his back.
And even when off-duty, Lucy catches people’s attention wherever she goes.
Lucy the Yorkshire Terrier with a Chihuahua-the smallest breed of dog on average. A fully grown male rarely reaches over 25cm in height
Sally said: ‘Lucy stops traffic. I can’t walk anywhere without people saying ‘she’s so little, I’ve never seen a dog that small!’
Smaller than the family cat, Lucy is even dwarfed by a watermelon and is a similar height to a soda can.
Sally first laid eyes on Lucy when an animal rescue volunteer came into the shop she worked in with puppies and she spotted Lucy’s small nose sticking out of a carrier bag.
Sally said: ‘When I first saw her she looked pretty pitiful. She was skinny, dirty and a bit lethargic. Her tongue was hanging out and she had been homeless for a bit. I just thought who else is going to take her?’
Now in good health, Lucy has to take medication daily because of her size and must also have plenty of rest.
Sally explained: ‘She sleeps a lot when we’re not working. She’s so tiny that she really needs a lot of sleep and you can find her in a ray of sunshine just sleeping or she’ll cuddle with the cat.’
Stand proud. Lucy with her Guinness World Records certificate for the world’s smallest working dog
Sally makes all the visits with Lucy on a voluntary basis, on top of teaching at a college and caring for her husband Frank, who has multiple sclerosis, and her daughter Robyn who suffers chronic health issues.
Sally said: ‘Lucy is big time therapy for me. She helps other people a lot but in my own family I’ve had some challenges and Lucy has helped immeasurably.
‘My husband has MS and my daughter has had a chronic illness. To have a daughter in her twenties be hit with something like that is so difficult and I didn’t take it very well and I was unable to really understand why it happened.
‘When I’m starting to feel a little panicked, a little sad about my husband and daughter I have Lucy and it’s terrific!
‘Lucy is extremely unusual – there is just something about her that’s just very different.’