Sally, the ‘dog no one wanted,’ touches lives: Send us your pet stories

BRUNSWICK, Ohio — Joe Dacey and his pet, Sally, have been offering dog therapy for about 10 years now. Sally is an 11-year-old husky, Australian shepherd and border collie mix. She is a certified therapy dog ​​and has done over 1,130 visits.

“I’m just the deadweight on the end of the leash,” Dacey often says.

Dacey rescued Sally.

“She was the one no one wanted,” he shared.

Something most people wouldn’t know about Sally by looking at her is that she has Crohn’s disease. She had been on multiple medications in the past, but Dacey came up with a specialized diet for her over the years and she no longer needs medication.

Joe Dacey and his dog Sally work with Best Paws Forward Dog Therapy. (Photo Courtesy of Grace Cifranic)

The reason she was “the one no one wanted” was because of her disease. A dog with Crohn’s is hard to potty train due to the fact that they can’t really control their bowels.

Sally was rejected three times by previous owners until Dacey found her.

The two haven’t always worked in dog therapy. They used to do agility competitions, as well. Sally is a very gifted and loving dog, so when she first started with agility, she passed with flying colors.

She got better and better until she was helping other dogs go through agility courses and testing them into the program. Dacey and Sally even worked with a show trainer for a while.

Sally has received a gold medal from the American Kennel Club. She has also been given the master level in a program called Rally-o, a dog sport based on obedience.

One day, a friend of Dacey’s brought up how loving Sally is and how she would be perfect for a dog therapy role. So in 2012, the two started training.

Dacey believes that Sally “enjoys therapy much more, because she loves people.”

Dacey and Sally are a part of a group called Best Paws Forward. Together, they visit facilities like nursing homes, assisted living, hospitals and juvenile detention centers.

“Our goal is to help anyone who needs it,” Dacey explained.

Dacey and Sally want to make people happy. Sally does this by being gentle and adorable. She soothes patients just by letting them pet her.

“People would rather see dogs than humans,” said Dacey.

He believes that Sally was his inspiration to venture into dog therapy. “She sees the good in anyone. She shows unconditional love,” he said.

If you have a dog who is great with people and other dogs, you can also become certified in dog therapy. All you need is basic to advanced training with your dog and to have the desire to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Elderly people in our community living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities need people who care. In this case, it would be a dog and their handler making visits to them and showing them unconditional love.

If you are interested in the therapy dog ​​community or scheduling a therapy dog ​​visit, go to the Best Paws Forward Dog Therapy website at

View Grace Cifranic’s NewsBEAT interview with Dacey and Sally at:

Grace Cifranic, an eighth-grader at Brunswick Middle School, is one of over 50 student “backpack journalists” (grades 6-12) in the award-winning BEAT Video Program.

Do you share your life with an animal that is near and dear to you? Tell us something about your pet – all species are welcome – and send along a photo of the two of you. Be sure to tell us which Greater Cleveland community you live in. Send everything to Ann Norman at

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