Lonely Therapy Dogs

July 6, 2020

On Friday, March 13, my dog Jonah and I were visiting a local elementary school shortly after classes had started. Jonah is a registered therapy dog and, until then, regularly visited several area classrooms each month as a reading dog. Ordinarily both staff and students welcome us with smiles and enthusiasm.

But on that day the staff members in the classroom were frantically trying to put together two-week packets of instructional materials for each child to take home, in case classes were canceled.

Jonah sat with each of the students who chose to read with him, especially Luke, who had developed a particularly close bond with Jonah. Little did we know, it would be our last day visiting school.

Jonah has been a registered therapy dog for over four years. He has participated in a number of programs working with children of different ages and in different settings. We have visited library children’s hour and evening school literacy events, and helped in the Humane Education programs at the Animal Welfare Society.

He also took part in a series of six-week programs at the Animal Welfare Society called “Jumping for Joy.” This program paired high school students on the autism spectrum with individual therapy dogs and together they worked on agility training classes. Jonah loved working with a new friend during each program. Outside of school settings, Jonah has also been a regular visitor at area assisted living facilities.

The times that we are experiencing affect us in many different ways. For Jonah it has been an alteration that he does not understand, and that I cannot explain to him.

Just about every morning he gives me the look. “Are we going to visit today?” People who are dog lovers know the sad-eyed look! And Jonah’s loss is my loss.

I have often said to people who thank me for bringing Jonah to visit a classroom or a facility that I derive as much joy from our visits as do the children and adults we visit. It reaffirms the importance of connecting with others, the kindness and gentleness that we do not always see enough of these days. And my dog Jonah is that connection.

  • Most Recent News

    Firefighters battling California wildfires visited by Kerith the therapy dog

    October 29, 2020

    Battling wildfires can take an emotional and physical toll on firefighters, but a two-year-old golden retriever has come to rescue, relieving stress and providing comfort to firefighters on the front lines. Kerith is a certified crisis response therapy animal through a nonprofit organization, Pet Partners. Kerith and her handler, Heidi Carman, started volunteering at MarinHealth […]

    Read more

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    More Recent News