Therapeutic Dogs Help Seniors and More

A Yakima non-profit is using dogs as a way to give people therapeutic relief.  Love on a Leash is an organization that has been around since 1984 starting in California. This January the organization added a new chapter in Yakima that's trying to spread love to everyone.

"Well see I've had dogs all my life until I got here... And I lost two of them..."

Edith Thornton-- or Cookie as her friends call her-- has been a dog lover all her life.

"That's my picture--and my grandfather bought me that one years ago when i was about that age," said Thornton.

Cookie has been living at Willow Springs assisted living center for eight and a half years-- she used to own two dogs, four cats and a goat before moving to the center where they won’t allow residents to own pets. Some of Cookie's pets used to have certifications as therapy animals and thinks this type of mental relaxation is important to people like her.

"Somebody can bring their dog in just to make them happy and you know what that can really make a difference in how you are or how you feel," said Thornton

Cookie was just one of many seniors on Monday that got a chance to pet one of the dogs brought by Love on a Leash. The Yakima chapter of the non-profit organization is being sponsored by Acme Canine Center in Union Gap. The Canine Center caters to normal training and obedience classes for dog owners. Now with the addition of Love on a Leash they have added night time training sessions especially for dogs training to be therapy animals. There are two tests the dog will need to pass to be able to work as a therapy animal.

After the dogs complete the tests they then have to do ten hours of work showing they will be capable of behaving as a therapy dog before being certified. Don't be confused by the title--these are not service dogs. 

"The easiest way to explain it therapy dogs are more of a generalist they're just for the general population. A service dog is more of a specialist they serve one person and they are trained to do that, to do that one service for them," said Wendy Neet, Acme Canine Center.

The general population may be seeing more of these therapy dogs around Yakima in the near future. Since Love on a Leash is still in its beginning stages here in Yakima-- their goal now is to get as many well trained dogs as possible to rotate events in the valley.

Sandi Riley, Love on a Leash said, "As many people that want to join that love their dog and they have great dogs and want to spend time making people happy,"

People like cookie..

"There's a lot of people here that like dogs .. I mean no they don't like them.. they love them. And you have to love them because they're really able to do a service for us and when they wear this tag that she made.. that's what they do.."

So far there are 50 Love on a Leash chapters in 20 states. The non-profit includes over 1,900 volunteers nationwide. New classes are starting Tuesday night at Acme Canine Center to prepare more therapeutic dogs for the Yakima area.