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Truffles, a pet therapy dog, helps people who may be experiencing lonliness, personal turmoil, even young victims of abuse. Photo courtesy of Nancy Stanley
Rancho Santa Fe Lead Story

Therapy dog Truffles is a ‘pillow with a heart’

CARLSBAD — Truffles, a therapy dog, sneezes on command when his handler asks if he has a cold. An impressive trick to the average dog owner, but for Nancy Stanley, it’s one of many she has taught Truffles over the years.

Truffles and Stanley recently visited the San Diego Fox 5 News Station to keep viewers up to date on their book signings and future plans, but most of all, it was an opportunity to talk about their teamwork to help those in need.

“Mainly, our interview was to talk about how Truffles and I have grown,” said Stanley, a Carlsbad resident.

Over the years, she and Truffles have visited with people experiencing loneliness or personal turmoil, even young victims of abuse.

Stanley has seen firsthand how pet therapy can change the direction of someone’s life. By showing love, she said, they will receive love in return instead of physical harm.

Nancy Stanley’s book, “Pillow With a Heartbeat,” is now in its third printing. Photo courtesy of Nancy Stanley

Nancy Stanley’s book, “Pillow With a Heartbeat,” is now in its third printing. Photo courtesy of Nancy Stanley

“I’m trying to help change the cycle for these children who are abused,” Stanley said. “I believe that showing them how to gently hold and pet an animal gets the message across to them that their life doesn’t have to be one of abuse but one of love and respect for life.”

Although Truffles is only six pounds, as far as Stanley is concerned, he has a big heart. She’s certain that he can sense and understand how people feel.

Micki Robins became fast friends with Stanley and Truffles when she met them at one of their book signings.

“Nancy has this wonderful ability to get beneath the skin of a situation, and Truffles is just a little bubble of love,” Robins said. “You can see that this human and this dog love and respect each other so much, and when they are around somebody who needs this, it is just there and passed on.”

While on the Fox 5 set, Truffles didn’t have an ounce of stage front. In fact, Stanley called him a ham. While sneezing on cue, he also sat up with his paws airborne and launched some “high fives.”

“He is a natural and he makes me more secure in front of a camera,” she said, adding how he is her own personal therapy dog.

Stanley, who has owned Truffles since he was a puppy, taught him every trick that he knows. He has a vocabulary of about 120 words.

Stanely, who introduced animal therapy back in 1982, has been referred to by many as one of the modern day Animal Therapy Pioneers. She founded the nonprofit, Tender Loving Zoo with her first therapy dog, another toy poodle named Freeway. The duo would visit children with extreme special needs and the elderly in convalescent hospitals.

Truffles is her second therapy dog.

Today, Stanley and Truffles dedicate four therapy days per month on their calendar. She is also a wish grantor for The Make-A-Wish Foundation and brings Truffles when approved.

Stanley and her trusty pup have also been busy this year with their book tour. Her book, “Pillow With a Heartbeat,” is now in its third reprint.

Stanley said the inspiration from her book actually came from a child she was a wish grantor for.

“Truffles and I were on Fox last year talking about my book,” she said. “This time we were also talking about how I’m trying to raise enough money with my book, and down the road a film, so I can form a foundation that will fund charities.”

For more information on Stanley and Truffles visit or call (760) 420-7517. A percentage of book sales go to charity.