As wildfires continue to rage along the West Coast, firefighters have been working hard to combat them. Battling fires is a physically and mentally exhausting task. These dedicated workers also spend weeks away from their families. If anyone could use the love and support of a therapy dog, it’s these brave firefighters.
Two very special Golden Retrievers are doing the important work of providing these hard workers emotional support. First responders often suffer from PTSD and other mental health conditions as a result of their work. Therapy dogs can reduce anxiety levels and combat depression. Even heroes need their own heroes, and Probie and Kerith are those heroes.
Probie, a 13-month old Golden retriever, works a comfort dog for Sublimity Fire. His mom, Amber Cross, works with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office. Together, the two visit fire crews to bring them some encouragement. Cross told Fox12:
“It has been very, very busy. We were up first thing in the morning, saying good morning to the crews, brightening up their day, seeing how they’re doing. It’s been impactful.”
Jozee Plouffe, who has been on the front lines of the Beachie Creek Fire, shared how good it felt to see Probie. The devastation of the communities can be tough to deal with emotionally.
“It’s nice to have that kind of refreshing interaction with someone so lively and calm and happy.”
Probie and Cross continue to bring comfort and smiles to first responders and 9-1-1 dispatchers.
Initially, Kerith the Golden Retriever trained to be a seeing-eye dog for the visually impaired. Since she has such a bubbly, infectious personality, she eventually found her calling as a therapy dog. Her mom, Heidi Carman told Pop Sugar:
“Kerith loves people more than other dogs or anything else. It was clear to me from an early age that she would be an excellent therapy dog because of her love and devotion to people.”
Kerith started her career volunteering at a local hospital in California. She then bonded with the firefighters, who requested visits from her at the station.
So far, Kerith and Hedi have visited two places heavily impacted by fires: the Woodward Fire base camp in Marin County and the Creek Fire base camp in Fresno County. Just like Probie and her person, Kerith and Heidi arrive early, around 6 am.
“Kerith matches people’s energy. If a firefighter is super excited and lays on the ground so Kerith can roll around and play with them, then Kerith will be higher energy and silly with them. If a firefighter is calm, stressed, and withdrawn, Kerith will be calm as well. She’ll sit closely to the individual, sometimes sit on their feet and lean into their body in a way that says, ‘I am here for you as long as you need me.’”
You can donate to the GoFundMe page for Kerith so she and Heidi can keep reducing the stigma around mental health for first responders.
Therapy dogs are so important, and it’s great they’re out there supporting our nation’s heroes.
Please SHARE to pass on this story to a friend or family member.