Puppy Love and Professional Thera-pets

I worked for seven years in residential treatment with adolescent females – sounds excruciating, I know.  And some days, it was.  Most days it was amazing.  Those kids were some of the strongest, most resilient, and beautiful human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Part of our therapeutic milieu programming included a weekly visit from therapy dogs – up until this point, I had never heard of a therapy dog. I wasn’t aware that dogs provided professional therapeutic services. What were their qualifications?   Every dog I’d ever met was simply free lancing.  Amateur therapists.  

Some of us take pets for granted as a part of every day life.  Not these kids.  Many of them had never had a pet of their own, or had any experience being around dogs or pets.  Frankly, many of these kids had never really had much time to be kids at all.  Watching them every week with the therapy dogs, getting over their fears, learning to trust these animals and build a relationship, and just having fun and laughing – forgetting the things that were weighing them down, for just an hour – I’ll never forget it.   

So, when we were searching for a new charitable pet organization to support, my mind immediately went to therapy dogs.  It made so much sense.  An organization that combines our passion for pets and improving mental health.  Perfect! Our search led us to several pet therapy organizations, and then to just the right one.

According to their website, “The Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to training, evaluating and qualifying people and their well-behaved dogs as therapy dog teams. Founded in 1999 and authorized in all 50 states, Bright & Beautiful has certified more than 14,000 members and dogs.

Our therapy dog teams provide unconditional love, offer friendship, boost self-esteem, provide solace and relieve loneliness and boredom for children, adults, and senior citizens in a wide variety of circumstances.”

Anyone who has ever loved a dog knows exactly how much of a therapeutic presence they are in your life.  We are so proud to support an organization that gives people who truly need, and may not always have access to, the love of a dog in their lives a chance to experience that feeling. 

-Shannon

Photo: The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc.

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