The importance of having a dog in memory care can be seen immediately. The moment a wagging tail walks through the door, smiles plaster on our residents’ faces. Having the ability to pet the dog, cuddle, & even play, brings back powerful memories. Those are the moments that are treasured. A dog truly does leave footprints on our hearts.
It was such a wonderful visit! Just taking the dogs to the office, we were stopped multiple times by students and adults in the building who just lit up and asked to pet them. The students were so excited to see the dogs and were so amazed that we were able to have them in the school for them.
One young man said “This is the only time you will see my sensitive side – when I am with animals, I am happy.” Another student came back to our office upset later in the day and said she had been having a really rough day but when she came during lunch and saw the dogs, they made her feel calm and happy and she was okay to make it through most of her day. Our staff members said it was like a gift for them to have the dogs in the office during the day – they said they thought is meant as much to them as it did to the students. Our principal said she wants the dogs here all of the time!
I have such a strong connection to these animals and I truly believe they positively affect people of all ages. They seem to have an innate sense and so many of our students truly come alive when interacting with the dogs. They truly are furry little healers. Thank you again for coming to our school and sharing. So many students came to my office to tell me how much they loved the program and how hearing Kenny’s story moved them. Keep doing what you are doing. It helps so many.
We love having the AIR therapy dogs visiting our community. The dogs bring moments of pure joy and peace to our residents. The ability to connect to another warm, living being is priceless and definitely improves the emotional well-being of our residents. We love working with your organization.
It is I who should be thanking you! The presentation brought a few students to Guidance, all of whom decided it was time to talk. We took it one step further with one senior girl who is having suicide ideations. She will be getting treatment immediately.
During my time as Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma, I personally witnessed the power of the AIR program, and its positive impact on young people. It was palpable, it was real, and there is no doubt in my mind that it made a difference in the lives of every participant, not just students, but parents and faculty as well.
Acting Director of the NJ Governor's Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse; Former Executive Director of the NJ Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma