‘Lewis County Director of Fluff’: Meet Clyde, the Lewis County Veterans Service Office’s new therapy dog in training


Lewis County staff members knew Clyde was a special dog from the moment they met him. 

He was originally picked up as a stray puppy, rescued on Twin Peaks Drive in Toledo last January along with his mother.

With his incredibly docile nature and relaxed disposition, the young puppy caught the attention of the Lewis County Veterans Service Office. Members of the office are now Clyde's handlers. They plan to have him trained as an official therapy dog. 

His mother, a Great Pyrenees, has since been adopted. While Clyde’s exact breed is still unknown, it is believed he is a Great Pyrenees and poodle mix. 

For now, he’s the “Lewis County Director of Fluff.”

The affable canine is currently undergoing basic command training and socialization with county staff and veterans every week at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis.  

The Chronicle first met Clyde last month in Randle at a Veterans Stand Down organized by the county to better provide East Lewis County veterans access to benefits and services, and caught up with Clyde again at the museum in Chehalis on Wednesday, April 10. 

One of Clyde’s handlers — Lewis County Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Heidi Palmer — explained despite the pup’s calm demeanor, he is still too young to enter the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen training and therapy dog certification. 

“Then he will get all of the training and certification and be certified to do what he already does now naturally on his own,” Palmer said. “Being 5 months old, it’s extremely impressive for a dog, especially one that came from our animal shelter that was roaming the streets of Toledo … He’s a gem.” 

Clyde is effective at bringing his own calmness and peace to those around him, Palmer said. A U.S. Army veteran herself along with being a VSO for the county, Palmer said Clyde makes for the perfect companion to the many who she councils in her office. 

“I always make sure to ask if they’re afraid or nervous around dogs first, and if they are fine with him, he’ll just lay down at their feet and you can see their demeanor just change as they go, ‘I’m OK, I’m alright,’” Palmer said. “And then Clyde will go over and give them a lot of kisses, if they allow it.” 

As part of his basic training, Clyde spends every Wednesday around lunch time at the Veterans Memorial Museum with veterans who meet there as an “unofficial” USO lounge to have lunch and congregate with each other, the museum’s Executive Director Chip Duncan said. 

Additionally on Wednesdays, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mobile Medical Unit is at the museum providing care for veterans, meaning there are plenty of veterans around for Clyde to socialize with.

“He makes a great little icebreaker,” Duncan said. “... Today, they were here at 10 (a.m.), waiting for Clyde.” 

“Watching him navigate around the tables and the chairs, doing his Hoover duties, getting all the dropped scraps, but also just bringing smiles everywhere,” Palmer added. 

She said originally the county wasn’t even looking for a therapy dog. 

“He just happened to fit right in and be that perfect missing piece that we didn’t know was missing,” Palmer said. 

One veteran at the museum on Wednesday, Mike Cheek, of Bucoda, said he offered to pay $1,000 to buy Clyde for himself. Cheek retired from the U.S. Air Force after being in the service for more than 20 years. 

“After my last dog, I said I would never have another dog,” Cheek said. “But I would have this dog.” 

The Veterans Memorial Museum is located at 100 SW Veterans Way in Chehalis and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

For more information, follow the museum on Facebook or visit https://www.veteransmuseum.org/