Maddi, therapy dog extraordinaire, is part of The Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon. Under Dr. Donna Shuurman, CEO of the center, this is a space for kids, teens, and their families to be surrounded by their peers and plenty of empathy. The Dougy Center is for children ages three through 18, young adults, and their families. It’s a space where nobody tries to “make it all better,” but instead listens, empathizes, and allows everyone to follow their own grief journey. There are many activities and resources to help with healing, including a thriving art therapy program. However, perhaps one of the most effective and simplest of all is “dog therapy” with this loving white Labrador.
Maddi primarily works with teens. She says hello to the teen group, and every time she’s attracted to the person who needs her most. It just flows, and those who are holding in emotions can’t hold them anymore when petting this dog. Studies have shown that petting a dog lowers your blood pressure. It helps you process, can bring in laughter, and can help release some energy. This is especially important with kids. Those who have suffered a great loss tend to hold back emotions, but nobody can resist Maddi’s affection.
Not all children and teens have the ability to have a pet at home. However, Maddi is very much a “community pet” and loves her work. She’s an integral part of the center and has a knack for knowing who needs a little extra TLC. Pet therapy is a rich, thriving field.
For anyone who could use a furry friend, The Dougy Center is the place to be. An established, nationally renowned program, you’ll find everything you need to help along your grief journey here—including a furry friend.