Dog days of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring    By: Angela Oriti Brainard Copyright, 2016 All rights reserved There are many different kinds of “therapies” out there to assist people in need. I chose animal therapy. You may wonder what led me into “animal therapy.” Six years ago, I lost my job. Within days of that happening, I found myself at Fieldstone Therapeutic Riding Center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio by the urge of my husband and my love for horses. When I entered the doors for the first time, I knew and felt I was meant to be there. Volunteering at Fieldstone brings a calmness to my being. About a month after that, my husband and I decided we needed a canine member in the household. We had wanted a dog for a couple years because we both love animals, and it seemed the time was right. Juneau (Chesapeake Bay Retriever) came in to our lives right after Christmas of that year. Then, it wasn’t until I stepped into a Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center one day that my eyes were really opened to yet another therapy…dog therapy. A “canine greeter” approached me that day and I immediately thought “Juneau could do this.” The following week Juneau and I were at the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus for an interview. We have been at CCF Family Health Center for over 2 years now. Juneau has since added additional positions to her resume which are Nursing Home weekly visits (Alzheimer Unit) and Tail Wagg’in Tutor Program (reading program for kids). During this time, Juneau also blessed us with Kona, a puppy from her first litter.. Kona is almost 2 years old and is a working canine. Making our weekly visits to the various facilities gives me a sense of accomplishment. I feel I am putting a smile on many faces. Somebody giving the dog a simple pat on the head or scratch behind the ears seems to de-stress them or “make their day.” I’ve been told by individuals that the dog just calms them. They feel at peace. Juneau and Kona know when they’re on their way to work. It shows in their demeanor. They seem to go into a “zen” moment. Both dogs love to be around people and enjoy the attention and accolades. Having animal therapy in my life benefits me, because it’s a way of my giving back. I feel people receive so much comfort in their presence that I feel elated for them. I treasure my animal therapies immensely. I am meant to bring joy to people through animals. Training a canine for certification isn’t arduous at all. A calm, well mannered pup is all you need. Juneau is a Certified Therapy Dog and received her training at the Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village in Novelty, Ohio. Also, an on-line test had to be passed given by TDI (Therapy Dog International). Kona is not yet certified, but 2 of the facilities we visit do not require certification. Juneau, Kona and I visit various facilities year round on a volunteer basis. I plan on continuing my good works with dogs and horses, and I certainly hope that I do not have to search for a paying position anytime soon. I feel very blessed to serve in this capacity. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~Dalai Lama
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