Pictured: Pearl the Newfoundland puppy snuggles with handler Kelly Myers at Casa Pacifica. Submitted. 

by Kimberly Rivers

Meet Pearl, a 10-week-old Newfoundland puppy who is joining Camarillo-based Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families as a trainee in its therapy dog program. Currently she weighs about 23 pounds but when fully grown will be 100-120 pounds.

Known as “gentle giants”, these large, usually black dogs have a calm nature and were originally bred for water rescues and other work requiring swimming in the icy waters surrounding Newfoundland, a large island off the East Coast of Canada.

Pearl is spending the first part of her training with handler Kelly Myers in the center’s

The troupe of Newfies with their donors: Cheryl and John Broome (Tess), Dianna Baker (Baker), Mary Tesoro (Archie) and Bettina Chandler (Otis).

intake area, greeting kids as they come and go and providing therapeutic support as needed. Myers said Pearl is settling in well, “It’s like she’s always been here.” Pearl is the fifth Newfoundland at Casa Pacifica, a trend that started in 2007 when Mary and Tony Tesoro donated the first therapy dog, a “Newfie” named Archie.

“As we continue to bring Newfoundlands onto campus to work with our youth, we strive to learn new ways to increase the human-animal bond and promote resilience and healing in non-traditional formats,” said Dr. Josh Lepore, clinical director.

Pearl is named after The Perlman Family Foundation, which recently provided funds to Casa Pacifica, some of which were used to purchase Pearl.

Casa Pacifica provides crisis-care and in-residence treatment for foster or at-risk children in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. For more information, call 805-445-7800 or visit www.casapacifica.org.