Tala and Twillow are two of the most popular volunteers at The Mustard Seed shelter.
They are gentle, friendly, long-haired German Shepherds (Shiloh Shepherds) that come to visit the guests once a month.
The dogs and their owner, Straja Linder King, take over a meeting room and guests go in one at a time to hang out with the dogs.
James was one of the first people to sign up for a visit when the dogs arrived. He had a dog when he was a boy and says, “when it comes to animals, I love them to pieces.”
As soon as James saw the dogs, he got down on the floor to stroke their fur, play with them and feel their warmth. Many guests in the shelter are under stress, and wrapping their arms around the dogs can be a calming experience.
Research shows that therapy dogs can lower stress levels, blood pressure and provide comfort to humans, and James agrees. “What it does for me is it makes me feel better if I’m depressed,” he says.
Straja has been offering animal-assisted therapy at The Mustard Seed for a couple of years. She says the power of pet therapy is that, “people want to fix you, but animals accept you where you are at.”
“A therapy dog does not talk back and listens better than most humans because they don’t interrupt!” adds Straja.
James says it’s really very simple, “they (the dogs) make me feel good.”
Volunteers at The Mustard Seed come in all ages, stages of life, and species, and each one has a profound impact on the people we serve.
Thank you to all our volunteers.