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Emotional Support


By Carol VanSant

One therapy dog job that almost everyone is familiar with is to help people manage grief. It doesn’t matter whether it is a large tragedy or an individual personal loss, therapy dogs help alleviate the pain. If you have done any reading about the benefits of therapy dogs, you may know that petting a dog lowers your blood pressure and naturally releases endorphins to help you feel better. This benefit is especially helpful when dealing with grief. As a handler volunteering for Nor’wester Therapy Dogs, you don’t expect to encounter grief during your visits to your assigned classroom. It does happen, though.

My therapy dog, Violet, had the privilege of helping Sydney, one of her fourth grade students, through the very personal loss of her family’s dog. One of the ways Violet helped was by having surgery herself. Sydney’s expression of her feelings in the get well card she wrote to Violet illustrates the importance of a therapy dog’s presence during this time in her life. I’d like to share the get well card Sydney wrote with you. I’d also like to thank Sydney for helping me feel better!