After the study, you may wish to continue getting therapy dog visits or you may be thinking about getting your own 24/7 therapy dog. We are involved with the group A.I.R. that takes shelter dogs and trains them to work as emotional support dogs to be placed with a family. Read the article below about their AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds program: From: http://www.princetonol.com/Groups/polAnnouncements.cfm?doctype_code=NONPRF%20ANNOUNCE&doc_id=7809
Local Advocacy Group Announces AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds – Rescues ‘Throw Away’ Dogs and Transforms Them into ‘Working’ Emotional Support Dogs
October 17, 2012
Attitudes In Reverse (A.I.R.), the nonprofit Plainsboro-based group which strives to promote empathy and understanding of mental illness, has announced the next step in advancing their mission – the AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds program. Through AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds, trained volunteers seek out appropriate dogs through shelters and rescues, and match them with people who would benefit from having an emotional support or therapy dog in their life.
“We are looking for those bullet-proof dogs,” said A.I.R. co-founder and certified dog-trainer Tricia Baker. Baker was inspired to start the AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds program by the emotional support her own dog Miki the Pomeranian provided her in the wake of the tragedy of her son Kenny’s death by suicide in 2009 after his long battle with anxiety and depression. “I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without that little dog,” she said.
Although newly formed, AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds has already successfully placed two dogs.
Adrienne Carson, an A.I.R. Board Member, and senior dog trainer and behaviorist, discovered Oliver, also known as ‘the other Pomeranian’ in a northern New Jersey shelter and knew he was AIR Dog material. Oliver was teamed up with Stacey Lambros of East Windsor after she met A.I.R. co-founder Kurt Baker at Cranbury Day in Cranbury, N.J.
When Lambros and Oliver met, it was love at first sight. Diagnosed with a mood disorder more than a decade ago, Lambros continues to struggle with anxiety and depression, but she said there has been a profound difference in her life since Oliver came into it. “When I sigh out of anxiety, Oliver licks my face and relaxes me. I’m not so lonely any more. I don’t make friends easily, and I don’t talk to a lot of people. Oliver is showing me a lot of love and that helps me with my anxiety. It’s like a little miracle,” Lambros said.
Shortly after Oliver’s placement, Carson found another shelter gem – Roxie the Frengle, a mix of French Bulldog and Beagle.
Matthew, 10, of Lawrenceville, met Carson at the first annual Miki & Friends Walk & Run for AIR in May at Mercer County Park. Matthew had been asking his parents for a dog ever since he could talk. But Matthew struggles with anxiety, depression and a pervasive developmental disorder, and his parents knew they needed just the right dog for him. Having Roxie has worked magic on Matthew, unleashing a sense of joy in a boy who found little happiness in life, and has opened a window of conversation.
“One of the good things for me about having a dog is Roxie gives me something to talk about when I find myself in a social situation. She also helps relax me and helps me get exercise,” Matthew said.
“So many people have told us how much they depend on their dogs for their mental well-being,” Baker said. “It’s ironic to think that Oliver and Roxie were considered throwaway dogs from a shelter, and so many people with mental illness are considered throwaway people. Our hope is that with more training with Stacey and Oliver, and Matthew and Roxie, we’ll be able to turn them into working service dogs. Then they would be able to take their dogs places like restaurants and hotels, given the same kind of access that service dogs like Seeing Eye dogs may have,” Baker said.
AIR Dogs will also advance A.I.R.’s efforts to educate the community about mental illness and mental health through attendance at community and advocacy group events, as well as collaboration with various mental health agencies.
Businesses throughout the region are showing their support for AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds with an outpouring of donations. Among the AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds sponsors are Michael Tokiwa, DVM, of The Animal Hospital at Kingston and Blawenburg, CC Cartier of Maverick Pet Partners, Ashley Rutherford of Curbside Cuts, and Stephanie Kowalewksi of Heavenly Hounds Dog Training School. Baker said she is thankful for their generosity and support, and hopes additional sponsorship will enable AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds to grow and assist more people as they strive for wellness. .