Luray therapy dogs ready to serve

Health News is sponsored by: Bluestone Orthodontics

Don's Therapy Dogs

~ Article submitted by Don Feliciano

LURAY — Even dogs graduate from school. Don Feliciano of Luray is pleased to announce that his dog, Josie, recently passed her therapy dog certification training at PetSmart and now joins her older sibling, Bella, as the second therapy dog in Page County trained to provide visits and support services at local facilities. Both dogs have been certified through the national Alliance of Therapy Dogs, which provides liability insurance when they visit facilities. Both dogs also have achieved American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen certification.

For those not familiar with therapy dogs, owners and their dogs visit nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, special needs schools, special hospitals, schools, preschools, domestic abuse shelters, homebound residents, and detention centers. Even though these facilities provide wonderful care, support, and treatment of adults and children, the elderly, and people with diseases, disabilities, and other problems; these places can be stressful at times, lonely, and even scary to those being cared for. Specially trained therapy dogs like Bella and Josie simply provide friendship and comfort to strangers. Therapy dog services are free. The dogs are not aggressive and do not bite. They are different than service, emotional or medical support dogs.

Over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, therapy dog visits have been curtailed under Virginia’s health restrictions. As these restrictions are now being lifted, Feliciano is optimistic that he and his dogs will be allowed to do visits again. Dogs are not considered to be carriers of the coronavirus.

Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide affection, companionship, emotional support, and just plain comfort to patients, students and residents. Studies have found that therapy dog visits help improve people’s spirits and morale, promote healing and rehabilitation, and reduce fear and anxiety. Many major hospitals in the U.S. have therapy dog visitation programs; even Dulles Airport uses therapy dogs to comfort nervous fliers.

Bella and Josie simply provide comfort and interest to all they meet. It’s amazing how a simple visit with a dog can provide a pleasant break from daily routines and reduce loneliness, grief, and illness. Many physicians, nurses and hospital staffs have welcomed hugging therapy dogs during the pandemic’s many stresses. 

Some of the local clients of Don’s therapy dog services over the years include the Page County Senior Center, all three of the town’s assisted living centers, the Choices domestic abuse shelter, and Springfield Elementary School.

Dog lovers understand that a canine’s unconditional love can make life a little more tolerable during these stressful times.

If you would like to arrange for a therapy dog visit, call Don Feliciano at (908) 361-2976.



Page County reports 60th COVID death

Page County among lowest vaccination rates in Virginia

Two Valley Health medical practices merge in Luray

Top Post Ad

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.