Dogs are hard workers. From herding livestock to sniffing out bombs, dogs and their super senses have provided humans with crucial assistance for centuries. Research shows that cuddles from those canines provide a range of important health benefits, too.
In fact, these benefits are so powerful that individuals and organizations are turning to therapy dogs for extra support and comfort. Studies show that interacting with specially trained dogs offers a variety of benefits that include lowering blood pressure, diminishing pain and increasing communication and confidence while also decreasing stress hormones, anxiety and depression. Therapy dogs particularly benefit individuals suffering from chronic pain or mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Inspiration to launch
A couple years ago, after facing spine issues that largely confined her to a wheelchair, along with diagnoses of PTSD and bipolar disorder, Findlay resident Michele Franks realized she’d benefit from a service dog. The process to get a service dog, however, was long, expensive and impractical. By working with trainers both in person and virtually, Franks learned the skills to train her own dog. The process inspired her to launch Pawsible Angels, an organization dedicated to training both service as well as therapy dogs.
“When I was in the hospital, there were therapy dogs that came and visited. I saw how happy they made people and recognized that power,” Franks says. “In the future, I hope Pawsible will have its own therapy dog certification and club.”
Some of the dogs currently training with Frank will serve Blanchard Valley Hospitals, Century Health, Riverdale and Van Buren schools. One team trained by Franks already serves at the Veteran Services Office. Findlay City Schools and the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library also utilize therapy dogs.
Lori Hunt, the counselor at Jefferson and Chamberlin Hill, brings 2-year-old therapy dog, Molly, to school. “Molly greets the students in the morning and says goodbye in the afternoons. Molly helps students who are having a rough day or are experiencing difficult times. Students who are experiencing grief, anxiety or are just sad, love to pet or brush her,” Hunt says.
Along with providing emotional support and a listening ear, dogs can be trained as reading dogs, like Gibbs at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library. These dogs, Franks explains, “provide a safe space for kids to practice reading without fear or judgment.” Sometimes all we need is love— especially that of a well-trained, loving dog.
For more information, find “Pawsible Angels” on Facebook or visit pawsibleangels.org.