Those of us who see these dogs do their “work”, don’t really understand exactly how they do what they do. Maybe it’s in the way they wag their tail and act happy when they see you… Maybe it’s the way they snuggle up against you to get closer when they sense that you want to hug them… Maybe they gently kiss you because they feel your tenderness… They react to you, as you react to them, with no conditions nor demands for their love. Maybe it’s all of these things together. Whatever “it” is, it has been proven that it can make a profound difference for someone when such a connection is made.
If you think back to your childhood days, you may remember a certain stuffed teddy bear or a special blanket that helped you feel warm and secure when you hugged them. Therapy dogs are that teddy bear or blanket… warm and real, and when you hug them, they hug you back…..
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December is a very busy month for our dogs. In addition to their regularly scheduled monthly visits to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, drop in centers, schools, libraries and hospitals, our dogs and handlers make a special effort to attend "De-Stress Exam Days" at local colleges, Easter Seals parties, cancer support groups. and scout meetings.
Lehigh Valley Therapy Dogs were available for that special human/dog interaction as walkers gathered to participate in the Greater Lehigh Valley 'Out of the Darkness' Community Walk. The annual walk raises awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy and support survivors of suicide loss.
Throughout the year we receive many invitations to speak at Girl Scout and Boy Scout meetings. At the meetings we talk about the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs as well as the requirements for a pet to become a therapy dog. Of course, at the end of the presentation our dogs love spending some "therapy" time with the scouts!
Our dogs are invited to area colleges and universities for their de-stress days. These days provide the students an opportunity to relax and interact with the dogs thus helping the students to take their minds off upcoming tests, the dogs they left at home and life in general. Our dogs have visited Cedar Crest College, De Sales University, Kutztown University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College.
Reading to dogs is fun! Dogs are wonderful listeners and they create a relaxed atmosphere where children can practice their oral reading skills while petting a friendly dog. Our dogs and their handlers have been invited to many public libraries throughout the Lehigh Valley. Some are located in Allentown, Easton, Emmaus, Kutztown and Parkland.