"Why do you come here?" asked a teenage boy as he was petting a Therapy Dog with both hands.
"How do you feel when you pet my dog?" answered the dog's handler.
The boy smiled, "I feel good."
"That's why we come."
These short sentences reflect a true conversation that sums up exactly what visiting a shelter means.
Therapy Dogs offer victims of abuse unconditional love and warmth at a shelter. When someone flees their home due to abuse, they don't leave with any comforts of home - at most a suitcase. Many times they leave their beloved pets behind. Therapy dog handlers can sympathize with this attachment to animals and can offer our dogs to be a comforting substitute.
As women and children pet the dogs, they share their stories and emotions. Counselors are present to support the women and children, the dogs are present to offer themselves, and handlers support the dogs and lend an understanding ear. Conversations cover topics from cooking to pets to relationships, clothes, and jobs. The dogs offer a distraction from reality and a friendly paw.
Taking a dog to a shelter is not an easy thing to do, but it is a rewarding way to share your dog and help others feel good.