Listening carefully

A Valley View Elementary School students reads to therapy dog Turbo Thursday afternoon at the school. Turbo is set to make his network television debut in the NBC drama Chase. The episode airs Monday, his owner and trainer Pat Crawford said.

Photo by Delania Trigg
Gainesville Daily Register

Viewers of the NBC series Chase may notice a familiar face on the criminal procedure drama Monday night. Turbo, a 5-year-old therapy dog from the Valley View area, is set to appear as the personal pet of the character Annie played by former All My Children actress Kelli Giddish.

Chase is a Jerry Bruckheimer series about a group of U.S. Marshals who hunt down American’s most wanted criminals. The show premiered in early September.

Turbo’s owner Pat Crawford said a local animal talent agent contacted her about a part for Turbo in the series which is filmed in Texas.

“They (the show’s producers) were looking for a Rottweiler that had Turbo’s level of obedience and was a therapy dog,” Crawford said.

Even before he earned a part in a television show, Turbo was no stranger to the limelight.

He’s an award-winning dog who has won multiple Best in Shows and in 2009 was ranked in the top 10 confirmation for males in the U.S.

He also has the highest level obedience titles the American Kennel Club offers, she said.

But it isn’t his pedigree that impresses the hundreds of children and adults whose lives Turbo has touched.

His work as a therapy dog includes stints at local nursing homes where he provided companionship to the elderly and the disabled.

For the past three years, Turbo has visited students at Valley View Elementary School.

He spends time in classrooms interacting with students who read to Turbo in small groups. The program is designed to help develop kids’ reading skills, to teach the children how to behave around dogs and to help build the students’ self esteem.

Crawford said Turbo often has a positive effect on even reluctant readers.

Turbo visited several Valley View classrooms Thursday. When he walks in, students inevitably look up and smile. Some approach him and pet him. Others feed him little treats.

“What happens here at the school, in the beginning of the year, is you usually have one student who doesn’t want to read to Turbo,” Crawford said. “The student stays by himself and doesn’t want to read in front of his peers. But you gently work with that student and by the end of the day, he’s usually reading to Turbo. One little boy who didn’t want to read to Turbo ending up reading five books to him.”

Starring in a television show is the latest in a distinguished career for Turbo who is trained in obedience, carting (pulling a small cart) and water education.

In 2008, he was inducted into the Texas Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hall of Fame for his companion dog work. Valley View ISD hosted the event.

Turbo also got the key to the city when Valley View Mayor Carl Kemper recognized him for his good works.

Turbo is also, perhaps, the only dog in Cooke County to receive a proclamation in his honor from the Cooke County Commissioner’s Court. He was cited for his therapy dog work.

“He got to sit in Judge Freeman’s chair,” Crawford noted.

Viewers may be seeing more of Turbo on television.

“We hope this will be a recurring role for Turbo on “Chase,” Crawford said.

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