2016-11-17 / Local & State

Kindly Canines Therapy Dogs Serve Local Community


Members of Kindly Canines therapy dogs meet and greet before a visit to the Franklin Learning Center in Chambersburg. Members of Kindly Canines therapy dogs meet and greet before a visit to the Franklin Learning Center in Chambersburg. It’s early Thursday morning and, Copper, a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, wearing his “Therapy Dog” vest, eagerly waits to head out to the Franklin Learning Center in Chambersburg for his monthly visit with the children. At the school Copper and his fellow therapy dogs from Kindly Canines enter classrooms with tails wagging to the sounds of happy greetings from the kids. According to Copper’s handler and owner Joanne Minnich, “Our visits provide a chance for some children to just pet and hold a furry friend, while other children look forward to reading the dogs a favorite story. Whatever the case, it’s heartwarming to see the happiness these dogs bring.”

Kindly Canines is a Chambersburg based therapy dog organization whose members volunteer at local schools, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, and other facilities. Therapy dog teams consist of a handler (their owner) and a dog of any size or breed. Goldens, boxers, labs, beagles, spaniels, and mixed breed are just a few of the many breeds in Kindly Canines. The most important trait of a therapy dog is its temperament. All Kindly Canines therapy dogs have passed therapy dog testing and are registered and insured with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national therapy dog organization.

“These dogs are friendly, gentle, patient and comfortable with strangers. They enjoy human contact, love being petted and are at ease in a variety of settings and situations – from being around medical equipment, to riding in elevators, to being exposed to loud noises,” states Minnich.

Studies have shown the many physical and mental benefits of therapy dogs include reduced stress, a decrease in blood pressure and reduced depression, to name a few. Also referred to as ‘comfort dogs,’ the benefits of visiting with a therapy dog are the same regardless of age. Whether it’s an adult receiving a cancer treatment, a veteran suffering PTSD, or a child that must testify in court, the calming presence of one of these special dogs always seems to make things better.

Every ‘human’ member of Kindly Canines has experienced the overwhelming joy of seeing their canine partner make a difference in someone’s day. Therapy dogs are often described as better than any medicine, and they instinctively seem to know when someone needs their loving attention. “Thank you, you’ve made my day,” is a common remark heard at the end of a visit.

Currently, the requests for the services of Kindly Canines far outweigh what this all-volunteer organization can meet. “We welcome new members and have many volunteer opportunities available,” continues Minnich. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the love, comfort and happiness your dog can bring to someone,” she concludes.

Anyone interested in joining or simply getting more information can visit Kindly Canines on the Web at www.kindlycanines.org or email kindlycanines2003@hotmail.com.

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