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Horizon Therapy Dogs Bring Joy and Hope to Horizon Clients & Staff

dakotaandhopeIf you haven’t heard or seen two new adorable faces around Horizon — We are pleased to share that Horizon Health Services has recently acquired a therapy dog program at Horizon Village and within their outpatient clinics in order to enhance the recovery process.

The program was started by two incredibly dedicated mothers who support Horizon Village and the WNY community.  They have a therapy dog program which they created themselves and began bringing the dogs to visit the Village residents over the last year and a half.  These women have made it their routine to bring their therapy dogs to Horizon Village twice a month to work with residents.  Since the dogs had elicited an overwhelming response, Horizon Village along with their outpatient clinics, have now invested in two therapy dogs.

Horizon’s new therapy dogs are Golden Retrievers; they were bred by Colleen Babcock and born on June 30, 2013.

Horizon Village employees, Diane and Bill Bly, are the owners of one of the therapy dogs, Dakota.  Diane and Bill have been busy training and care for the dog at home, as well as bringing her to Horizon Village Tuesday through Saturday every week. “Dakota has an area set up in the wellness center near my office, as well as a common area at Horizon Village,” stated Diane.  There are set times for interested clients to visit with the dog, as well as group activities including the residents and Dakota.

The second therapy dog, Hope, has been adopted by Erin Ryan, Chief Financial Officer of Horizon Health Services.  Erin’s dog works predominantly at Horizon’s PROs program, which shares the building with the administrative offices at Horizon, where Erin works.  PROs is a day program for consumers with severe and persistent mental illness.  Hope’s duty is to participate in group therapy sessions in order to offer support as clients work through challenging issues.

About Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to patients.  They fulfill an emotional void that is often drained by the disease of addiction. Therapy dogs can be found in many breeds and sizes; however, Golden Retrievers are often used due to their calm demeanor and patient disposition. Research shows that interaction with therapy dogs increases the release of bonding and happiness hormones and decreases stress. Cindy Goss expresses her confidence in the benefits of the therapy dog program, “Dogs are so non-judgmental and love us regardless of our background [and] previous mistakes.” Horizon’s adoption of a therapy dog program continues to improve and enhance practices, maintaining Horizon’s high quality treatment and recovery programs.