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Honoring Canine Ambassador

August 31, 2020

Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara announces the passing of Sandy, one of its beloved therapy dogs and the matriarch of the organization. She was 14-1/2 years old.

“During her long and wonderful life, Sandy brought joy and smiles to thousands of children, young adults, and the elderly in our community and we will be forever grateful for the tremendous love and loyalty of this sweet soul,” said Karen Lee Stevens, Founder and Executive Director of Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara. After Sandy, a Labrador Retriever, accepted a position as the organization’s first certified therapy dog, she began lending a helping paw during classroom visits, enthusiastically introducing herself to children of all ages and happily accepting treats and tummy rubs from kids and adults alike. During her free time, Sandy enjoyed swimming in the ocean, chasing tennis balls, camping, backpacking and lounging under a giant oak tree in her backyard.

Sandy was also the main character in the popular children’s book, Animals Have Feelings, Too!, which was published by the organization in 2011. “Our book takes readers on a journey through the alphabet and shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we’ve been able to give away thousands of copies of our book to children in Santa Barbara County,” said Stevens.

In loving memory of Sandy, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara is giving away hundreds of copies of Animals Have Feelings, Too! Beginning today, volunteers will start distributing autographed copies of the book to every Little Free Library in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria. At the request of Sandy’s extended family, please pick up a copy of “The Sandy Book” for a youngster in your life and give your own dog a hug, belly rub, and an extra treat.

For the past 23 years, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara has been dedicated to empowering people to live more fulfilling lives through the human-animal bond.

The organization’s signature program, ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), inspires children to become better readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs. Its newest program, MindfulKidsSB gives children the skills they need to reduce stress and anxiety and increase focus and resilience.

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