Little brown rescue puppy to become CAPS' first therapy dog

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Maya is the newest member of the CAPS therapy team. Her owner, therapist Avery Cook, has started providing sessions to clients that utilize the nearly one-year-old dog for therapy.

Maya is a rescue puppy being trained to be a therapy dog and she’s already had some experience with clients. Depending on the need, she can sit with a client and provide comfort, or she can provide pressure if someone is feeling anxious or stressed.

“That’s her job,” said Avery Cook, clinical coordinator at CAPS and Maya’s owner. “She’s more of a therapeutic tool that can be used in session.”

But Maya was not adopted with the intention of putting her to work — that came later.

“She had such a good temperament and was so good with people that I thought she might do a really good job with the therapy dog training,” Cook said. “So we started with the training and have been bringing her in here to see how she does and she’s doing a great job.”

Dr. Allen O’Barr, director of CAPS, said he is excited about having Maya at CAPS and that they have been needing therapy animals for a long time.

“Occasionally if somebody has been traumatized, an animal can really provide a level of security and comfort that is really hard to get to otherwise,” O’Barr said.

Cook said animals, especially dogs, can be important in therapy.

“A dog can bring a calm, even energy into the room,” she said. “That can be really helpful for someone who’s experiencing a lot of sadness or grief or any sort of strong emotion. A dog can be soothing in a way a person can’t.”

Ann Quigley, a dog trainer at Off Leash K9 Training, has been giving Maya therapy dog training. Not every dog is suited to be a therapy dog, she said, but Maya has been excelling.

“Maya just has a very natural calming energy about her that makes it really easy to do the work,” she said.

Quigley said when training a dog to be a therapy dog, the owner must be willing to put in time and energy to work with it in order for it to succeed. She said Cook has been doing a fantastic job with this.

“Maya in particular has a very natural inclination to therapy work,” she said. “But it wouldn’t be without Avery’s hard work and dedication to provide the training that she would be as far as she is today and she would be as successful.”

Danielle Zohrob, a psychology intern and therapist at CAPS, has brought Maya into some of her individual sessions and said the response from students has been great.

“It’s been very comforting to have her in and I think students are returning to see her and love seeing her just roaming the halls here,” she said. “We’re excited to incorporate her into more work here at CAPS with the students.”

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