Therapy dogs helping communities

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“It’s nice to see people smile and relax after a long day.”

Sarah Atwood

Biffy, age 6

Gayle Yarick is a therapy dog owner. Her dog, Biffy, is a 6-year-old smooth collie. Biffy has been a therapy dog for almost three years after passing the Therapy Dogs International Test. Yarick has been working with therapy dogs for several years, and Biffy is her most recent trainee. “Training is different for each dog. Some dogs take longer, some dogs need more time interacting with other dogs.” Yarick has trained three collies.

At the Holt-Delhi library, people with therapy dogs can bring them in on specific days so children can practice reading to them. In addition to Yarick, another woman, Marion Miller, brings her 6-year-old labradoodle, Kiva. “I work at the library part time, so I met with the kids in the park during the summer,” Miller explained that to have your dog certified you do not need to take a specific class, but test through Therapy Dogs International.

“I take my dogs to a lot of events. Therapy Dogs International actually sends out emails about events that they need dogs for.” Yarick explains. In addition to visiting the library, she takes her dogs to the MSU library and to the Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.

Samantha Beauchamp is a mom of two daughters, ages 6 and 3. She has noticed a change in her oldest daughter’s reading confidence after taking her to read to the therapy dogs. “This is definitely beneficial. And for my youngest who can’t read yet, it’s good for her to be around other kids and play with the dogs.”

“I used to take Kiva to T.J. Maxx and Michaels where the workers are stressed.” Miller said, “I call it random acts of kindness. You’d be surprised at how many people will stop what they’re doing and get on the ground to pet a dog.”

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