Laurie has over 18 years’ experience in the field of Social Work. Her background includes extensive work in aging and in hospice care where she provided end of life support to patients of all ages in a variety of settings. For 10 years Laurie founded and served as the Executive Director of COPE Eldercare, the areas only nonprofit 501 (c) (3) charity providing geriatric care management. She has provided Caregiver and Bereavement support groups as well as a variety of presentations on a variety of topics. She provided training and certification in Pet Therapy through COPE Enrichment for over 7 years, and now with PEP. Laurie has volunteered to provide Pet Therapy in hospitals, adult day care, retirement communities, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing facilities, and also a local college for bi-annual stress buster events.

Laurie's educational background includes undergraduate degrees in Business Management, Social Work, and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. She is recognized by the Social Work Certification and Licensure Board of North Carolina as a Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW). Laurie has earned an important and valuable designation through the National Association of Social Workers as a Certified-Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM), and recently became certified as an Options Counselor for Wake County. She has earned the Certificate in Nonprofit management from Duke and the Certificate in Aging from Boston University. Laurie has provided field education to many local BSW and MSW students.


After retirement from a medical career as a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Sherry Dodson began Start Them Right, Inc. in June 2000. At that time, the incorporation and development of her business was the culmination of over 23 years of working with dogs in a number of different capacities. Sherry has trained dogs in obedience, tracking, field work and agility. Since 1985, she has served in a volunteer capacity as Area Coordinator for the North Carolina Puppy Raising Program of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. In addition to the responsibilities of Area Coordinator, she has raised four puppies for Guiding Eyes. Sherry has been teaching Puppy Kindergarten, Beginner Classes, Canine Good Citizen and Advanced classes at Northwoods Animal Hospital since 1991 and continues to teach there and at other animal hospitals in the area. Therapy Dog classes is the latest addition in conjunction with COPE Eldercare. She currently has three active therapy dogs. Sherry is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

She and her husband live on a small farm where their lives are blessed with 6 dogs, 1 cat and 2 horses. Sherry firmly believes that a deep, positive, trusting relationship with our dogs, and really all animals, is the cornerstone of any training. They enrich our lives so much and she feels it is essential that we do all we can to understand and train them.


“It is the intuitive power of animals that can help us heal hurts, lessen stress, feel needed, and express our caring side.”

- Marty Becker, DVM

Welcome to PEP, Pets Engaging People; People Engaging Pets. PEP is an all volunteer pet therapy group dedicated to bringing smiles and comfort to people of all ages in our communities. Our therapy teams volunteer in the following settings:

  • Retirement communities

  • Assisted living and skilled nursing settings

  • Hospitals

  • Adult day care

  • Child day care

  • Local schools

  • Local colleges

  • Private individuals

  • Hospice care

Although most our therapy teams consist of dogs as partners, we welcome all qualified animals that are registered for pet therapy.