Dog lovers join forces to shine the light on pet therapy
BY ELIZABETH RAHE
There’s something about dog people…an immediate connection, an instant understanding. This common ground is bringing together two dog lovers, Delray Beach philanthropist Arthur Benjamin and Maxine King of King Jewelers, Aventura, for Doggies & Diamonds Sept. 16, an event to raise awareness and funds for Canine Assisted Therapy, as well as the Humane Society of Greater Miami. Fort Lauderdale-based Canine Assisted Therapy recruits and trains volunteers and their dogs to provide companionship and comfort to children and adults in need.
Pet therapy has a special meaning to Benjamin. His teacup poodle Buddy was a constant companion to his wife, Gail, during her cancer battle. Buddy could even predict Gail’s seizures in her final days. “Animals relate to people on another level. It’s emotional and intuitive as opposed to cerebral and logical. I’m doing this event in memory of Buddy,” says Benjamin, an entrepreneur who is Vice Chairman of American Institute schools and Chairman and CEO of Results Weight Loss Inc. His philanthropy has always been driven by causes close to his heart, including young adult education, women in breast cancer recovery and, of course, pets. He founded American Dog Rescue to fund animal shelters, promote animal activism and help rescue pets following natural disasters.
His personal dog rescue efforts have focused on pets with special needs, including Holly, an epileptic poodle, and three boxers with various maladies who have found a home with him. These are fortunate dogs, indeed, but Benjamin says he is grateful for the love his pets share with him. “There’s truly a magical connection between dogs and humanity,” he says.
Maxine King also has experienced this magic, much to her surprise. After refusing to have a dog for years because of her concern about germs, her son, David, brought home Andre, a boxer, and she fell hard. Andre, now 10 years old, is a member of the family and a fixture at King Jewelers. “People come in just to see Andre,” says King, who will host the Doggies & Diamonds event in her Aventura showroom.
“It’s amazing how much dogs really are like children. You look into their eyes, and it’s like looking into a person’s eyes,” she says.
That connection is how Canine Assisted Therapy dogs spread joy and comfort to the people they encounter. Wearing purple C.A.T. coats, the specially trained animals visit the elderly, disabled people, hospice patients. They even serve as non-judgmental listeners for young children practicing their reading skills.
“It’s a great cause,” King says. “Canine Assisted Therapy helps people open up. There is an understanding, a connection with the dogs.”
Doggies & Diamonds will feature live entertainment, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, a silent auction, fashionable pet accessories and more. King notes that the event is for two-legged patrons only – except for one beloved boxer, that is. “This is Andre’s domain,” she adds.
DOGGIES & DIAMONDS Pet Therapy Awareness Fundraiser, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 16, King Jewelers, 18265 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, tickets $75 or by VIP invitation. Hosted by King Jewelers and American Dog Rescue (www.americandogrescue.org). Proceeds benefit Canine Assisted Therapy (www.catdogs.org) and the Humane Society of Greater Miami (www.humanesocietymiami.org). Contact: 305-935-4900, www.kings1912.com.