Dogs that have been paralyzed by traumatic accidents find new purpose providing comfort to those who in need. And in turn, they’re getting all the love and affection they could dream of.
Dharma Rescue’s therapy dogs are wheelchair-bound, but that’s not stopping them from bringing comfort to students like Chloe Lara.
“It makes me excited and happy to see them. Even if it’s a bad day, it just helps,” Lara said.
Lara came to the Switzer Learning Center three years ago when she was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Other students on campus face similar challenges.
“I was experiencing things that I felt like I was going crazy. I was hearing voices and I was seeing things,” Lara said.
Switching schools has helped Lara make new friends and work through her challenges. Especially on Thursdays.
That’s when Dharma Rescue’s Dharma DAWGS, Disabled Animals Who Generously Serve, visits the school. The program gives paralyzed dogs a second chance at life by providing comfort as therapy dogs.
Audrey McCabe is the co-founder of the rescue. She said the dogs have made an impact on each student.
“We love these kids and we come here because we see what these animals do to these children. And it brings out a lot of their emotions, emotions and they kind of open up and talk to them and they talk to each other,” said McCabe.
Lara said seeing Mavis, Lovie, and all the other therapy dogs help her work through a bad day.
“It’s where we can all relate in a way and also the dogs do help,” Lara said.
Felicia Bookchin, the clinical director at the Switzer Learning Center said it’s brought calm to other students with behavioral issues.
“There’s a feeling of joy when the dogs are here,” Bookchin said.
For Lara, it’s a feeling of comfort that goes full circle.
“We have experience with the dogs and when they come in they automatically run to us and they know who we are. They are not scared anymore when they first come in. So in a way I think we are helping them too,” Lara said.
That’s why the next time Lara has a bad day, she knows she has something to look forward to – a little joy that comes from seeing her furry friends.