With the wag of a tail and a happy pant, Sojourner Shelter's most friendly visitors make their presence known. Visits from trained and licensed therapy dogs have happened for a few years now but we've recently increased these visits to nearly every week. Families can spend time petting the dogs, watching them do tricks, taking them for indoor walks and enjoying the lightness that dogs bring with them. Some of the benefits of therapy dogs include: decreased anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, diminished physical pain, lower levels of stress hormones and a decreased sense of isolation.* The children at the shelter are often particularly happy to see the dogs, their eyes bright with excitement and curiosity at meeting this new creature.
Many victims of domestic violence are unable to bring their precious pets with them when they leave their abusers. This reality can be a barrier for victims as they try to escape the abuse. Recently, a young boy staying at Sojourner cried and told his mom how much he missed their dog Lucy. His mother comforted him and invited him to get as much time in with the therapy dog as possible until they were able to reunite with their dog. Advocates found a stuffed animal dog for him to “take care of” and sleep with while he stayed at the shelter.
At Sojourner Shelter, we go beyond the basic needs of food and physical safety and provide experiences that encourage a sense of normalcy in an abnormal environment. We’re grateful to all our incredible volunteers who give of their time and energy and make this possible. As we move through our 40th Anniversary year and look beyond, we will continue to find creative ways to serve our clients and find moments of joy during challenging times.