Today our little Miki turns 12. This little dog has been a part of our journey for all of his life. I remember Kenny saying, we don’t need another dog (Miki was dog 4)…but soon changed to, “Miki is a cool little dog.”
After Kenny died, Miki was in tune with my grief and knew when I needed his support. I remember when I could not get out of bed, Miki would lick my eyelids until I could get the strength to get up.
I started bringing Miki everywhere with me, so I didn’t feel the loneliness in my car. As a result, Miki was at the start of AIR, attending our outdoor events. This little dog broke down the barriers of stigma and started so many conversations about good mental health. He walked alongside us at suicide prevention walks.
In 2011 Miki was recognized by the American Kennel Club with the Award of Canine Excellence ACE. Miki shared our message of HOPE on national television. This award started us bringing Miki along with our school programs. In the beginning, schools were hesitant about dogs in school, but it didn’t take long before we were receiving hundreds of invitations because of the dogs.
Seeing the need, AIR Therapy Dogs: Paws for Minds was born. With a focus on mental wellness, dogs and their handlers are certified to help humans through therapy visits. Interacting with a dog releases good de-stressing brain chemicals. The program continues to grow and AIR Dogs is now certifying facility dogs, dogs that will work on school property and be incorporated into healing programs. AIR has educated over 90,000 students and have impacted hundreds of thousands of humans. Each interaction, a dog is involved. And it all began with one little Pomeranian named Miki.