“Volunteering Just Leads To More Volunteering”
“I have three huskies. The red-and-white one is Sandy. The other red-and-white one – with one blue eye and one brown eye – is Maui. Then this is Taylor; I got her from Husky Camp, a rescue organization I work with.
“Taylor is a therapy dog. We’re very involved with the OCSPCA, the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. They have a program there called PAWS, which stands for Pets Are Wonderful Support.
“Basically, Taylor and I do therapy work with all kinds of organizations. We’ll visit battered-women shelters, helping the kids there. We go to senior living homes and spend time with the Alzheimer’s patients. We’ll visit children down at the autism center. Everyone loves to see a dog – and their presence can be very soothing and beneficial, comforting in the face of whatever people are going through.
“Just recently, we started participating in a new program called PANDA which stands for ‘PAWS Assisting the Needs of the District Attorney.’ We’re part of the first fifteen dogs assigned to the program. Honestly, it’s very sad but meaningful work.
“What we do is we assist the District Attorney’s office by providing dog therapy to sexual abuse victims. These are usually minors and while they are going through their court cases – dealing with court prep, going down to the courthouse and basically having to relive something profoundly traumatic they’d rather just forget – our dogs can help make the whole process less traumatic, more relaxing and more comfortable.
“Anything we can do to help bring comfort to these kids is worth the effort. A lot of these kids have been removed from their home, removed from their own pets – or maybe they never had one.
“Having a dog around, as support, doesn’t just help the kids feel better. Kids will open up to a dog, talk to a dog. They can just be themselves around the dog and it helps them find that comfort level to tell their story – so the D.A. can get the information they need to try the case and see that justice is done.
“Sometimes I look back and think how amazing it is that we’ve ended up here, doing this work. But then, that’s how it goes when you start giving back. Volunteering just kind of leads to more volunteering.”
– Ann Carruthers, Member of Urban Mushing, Fairview Park, Costa Mesa