Therapy dogs have been used for years in hospitals and nursing homes to comfort and reduce stress among those who are ill and distressed. In recent years, response groups have added crisis dog teams for local and national disaster relief and in response to human made crises. Our dogs provide an emotional bridge. They don’t know about the disaster or other things that create pain but they do know how to interact with people and help the healing process begin. Our dogs are initially certified in their home communities with a therapy dog organization. They are then trained to respond positively to human grief, strong emotions and challenging environments such as emergency shelters, health facilities and large crowds. Our handlers are trained to assist individuals through psychological first aid and critical incident stress management.
MEET THE TEAM
Bella (or Bella Sue), a Labrador/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix was rescued through the Grand Island Human Society for the NOAH’s Service Dog Program. After a year of work in service, her person’s health failed and Bella was adopted by her new handler, Darcy, to work as a therapy dog. She and Darcy also do demonstrations for schools and organizations interested in the work of service dogs and in NOAH’s overall. When she is not working, Bella likes to play with her BFF, Gordy, keep track of bunnies on her acreage, distribute toys and bones around her home, and bring love and happiness to her family and anyone she meets.
Gemma comes from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was selected for her temperament and passed her basic and advanced testing at 8 months of age and was certified on her 1st birthday. Gemma lives with her person on an acreage in Iowa along with 5 other canine best friends, 4 of which were rescued. She especially enjoys being with large groups of kids and epitomizes the Wire-haired Dachshund’s reputation as the ultimate canine comedian!
Mya, a Lab/Great Pyrenees Mix, was found roaming the streets of Lincoln, NE and taken to the humane society where she was deemed unadoptable due to being too shy. Mya came to live with Melissa and her pack and learned to be a dog. She now loves people, especially children! When Mya isn’t visiting people and helping, she loves being on squirrel patrol in her backyard. She loves frolicking outside. Mya lives with 2 other labs and a cat friend.
Wrigley, a Yellow Lab, came to the NOAH’s program from a farm in Plattsmouth, NE. Some people call him Wiggly because he’s always moving. Renea and Wrigley live on an acreage in Nebraska. When he’s not helping provide comfort and mental health support or cross-training for Search and Rescue, Wrigley loves food, playing ball, food, search and rescue work, food, his 2 cats, and his dog friends (esp. Atticus & Scout).
Scout, a Plott Hound, was rescued through All-Aboard Pet Rescue in Fort Collins, CO. Scout is a very active dog who needs to work in therapy, crisis, and search and rescue to keep her body and mind busy. In addition to crisis and therapy dog work, she and her partners train twice a week in Search and Rescue. Scout loves to vocalize, as hounds do, and she loves to watch for squirrels and rabbits, run, twirl, and toss her toys–especially when she has her dog friends, her cats, and her favorite people in tow.
Atticus, a Shepweiler (Shepherd/Rottweiler), was rescued from a shelter in Texas for the NOAH’s program. He first trained as a psychiatric service dog. His trainer called him “high drive” which is another way of saying he’s a playboy obsessed with ball games. He and Lisa live in Seward, NE with his dog sister, Scout. When he’s not helping provide comfort and mental health support, Atticus likes to hang out with his best bud, Wrigley, Scout, cats and kids.
Team members, Homer, Molly and Nestle died this past year. They were valuable members of the NOAH’s team before leaving us.
They join other great crisis team members including Sadie, Wrigley, Hannah, Toby, Archie and Gus in ministering to the angels. Hannah’s person, Hallie, continues to be a valuable part of our team. Sadie and Crosby’s people are now training new canine members of the team.